The heavy metal titans have confirmed they will headline the British festival next year, where they will give a special performance which will include their 22 million selling self titled fifth album – affectionately known as The Black Album, after its almost completely dark cover – on June 9 next year.
Referring to the last time the band played at the festival’s iconic Donington park site, drummer Lars Ulrich said: "Six years is way too long to be away from the hallowed grounds of Donington Park.
"We are beyond psyched and feel privileged to come back once again to soak up the energy and vibe of the most legendary of festival sites."
Enter Sandman rockers Metallica have previously played at the Donington Monsters of Rock and Download festivals eight times, their first in 1985, and their last headlining in 2006.
The band last played in England earlier this year as part of The Big Four – alongside Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth – headlining the Sonisphere festival.
Download 2012 will take place at Donington Park from 8-10 June, with tickets on sale from November 18.
Further line up announcements are expected to follow.