Metallica have pulled out of two festival performances.

James Hetfield

James Hetfield

The heavy metal band cancelled the Australia and New Zealand legs of their tour last year after revealing in September frontman James Hetfield had returned to rehab to "work on his recovery" after "struggling with addiction for many years" - and they have now axed headline dates at Columbus' Sonic Temple festival in May and Louisville's Louder Than Life in September.

James announced the news by writing a note to Metallica fans, revealing he has "critical recovery events" taking place on those weekends that "cannot be moved".

In a post on the band's official website, he wrote: "It pains me to write this, but I have to let all of you know that I cannot make it to Sonic Temple in Columbus and Louder Than Life in Louisville this year.

"As part of my continuing effort to get and stay healthy, I have critical recovery events on those weekends that cannot be moved. I apologize to all of our fans who have bought tickets for these festivals.

"We are working with the festival promoters to provide for refunds or exchanges. My intent with this statement is saying "I apologize" to each one of you.

"The reality is that I have not prioritized my health in the past year of touring and I now know that my mental health comes first.

"That might sound like a no-brainer for most of you but I didn't want to let the Metallica team/family down and, I alone, completely compromised myself."

But the 56-year-old star admitted his therapy is "going well", and he is determined to perform other scheduled dates in 2020, including heading to South America in April.

He wrote: "Looking on the brighter side, my therapy is going well. It was absolutely necessary for me to look after my mental, physical, and spiritual health.

"I want to stress that the band will play all other announced 2020 shows.

"I am looking forward to getting back to playing and seeing all our great South American fans in April. And, of course, playing Epicenter in Charlotte, Welcome to Rockville in Daytona and Aftershock in Sacramento. We will still play two unique sets at each of these festivals.

"Beyond 2020, I am optimistic about the blessings I have been given and what the future brings. I appreciate all the great prayers and support from everyone since I went into rehab last September. Like the moth into the flame, being human in this career has its huge challenges and can be difficult. Your understanding helps the healing."