Metallica are closing in on their first UK number one album since 2008.

The heavy metal band's 11th studio album '72 Seasons' is said to be performing so well this week they are 26,000 sales in front of their closest chart rival The Weeknd, with his 2021 album 'The Highlights'.

A source told The Sun newspaper's Bizarre column: "Metallica are absolutely flying with '72 Seasons' and ecstatic at the reception to the record in the UK.

"This will be their first UK No1 album since 2008, so it means a lot to them."

Should the group - made up of Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo - hit the number one spot, it will be their fourth time at the summit of the UK albums chart.

The '72 Seasons' title is a reference to the band members' first 18 years of their lives - 18 springs, 18 summers, 18 autumns and 18 winters.

Metallica drummer Lars admitted last week he was a "bit of a loner" when he was 18, but that inspired him to set up a band.

He told the publication: "I was an only child and a bit of a loner.

"I wasn’t super-awkward but had issues of abandonment and of never fitting in.

"That’s why I formed a band. I was seeking the solace of being in a gang - a sense of belonging."

While the 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' hitmakers are now widely regarded as one of the most influential and successful heavy metal bands of all time, Lars insists they are "still outsiders".

He said: "We’ve spent 40 years hovering on the edges and not being truly accepted. We’re still outsiders.

"If I look at my formative years, my school experiences and my coming-of-age experiences, there are a lot of parallels between me and the other band members."