After debuting it live and posting a demo version to YouTube, Metallica has finally gotten around to releasing a single download of their new song, 'Lords of Summer.'

Although they've unleashed plenty of live and archival music since putting out their most recent album, 2008's 'Death Magnetic' -- including the EP 'Beyond Magnetic' -- this single marks Metallica's first official release in over five years; it serves as a prelude of sorts to their next full-length studio LP, reportedly due sometime after September. No word on whether 'Lords of Summer' is being earmarked for inclusion in that set, but the band's continual tinkering with the song would seem to suggest that they may not be quite finished with it yet.

The new download, dubbed the 'First Pass Version' of the track, doesn't differ substantially from previous incarnations of 'Lords of Summer,' as the band pointed out while announcing the release with a post at its official site, which reads:

Welcome to the official start of summer! Along with the longest day of the year comes the release of “Lords of Summer” on iTunes worldwide. If you joined us for a show or two in South America or on the first leg of the European tour you will recognize it as the “new song” in the set. Our friends over at ESPN heard it and decided they want to kick off their summer by spinning it on and off all day Saturday, so you just might hear it again if you’re a sports fan in the States.

Those of you with astute ears will notice some minor differences from the version we streamed on YouTube and released on… it’s still a work in progress, but we wanted to share it with you as it stands today… it most probably will change again!

Enjoy and we’ll see you out on the road kicking off at the Glastonbury Festival next week!

'Lords of Summer (First Pass Version)' is available for download at this link.