Rockers Judas Priest have assured fans their global farewell tour does not spell the end of the band - they have vowed to release a new album next year (12).
The heavy metal legends, who formed in 1969 and have sold more than 40 million albums, announced last December (10) they were planning to pack up their tour bus for good after one last jaunt around the world.
They kicked off the final Epitaph World Tour trek in Sweden in June (11) and will wrap up the live shows on 3 December (11) in Biloxi, Mississippi.
But Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford insists their decision to quit performing doesn't mean they won't continue recording - they plan to rock on into old age.
He tells Billboard.com, "This is not the end of Judas Priest. We're just cutting back on these big, long treks around the world that we love to do.
"But yet we're facing mortality; as a metal singer I'm still able to do the vast majority of things that have laid out before me... but I'd be the first to admit that I'm finding it more challenging now, and I don't want to get into that syndrome where you end up a little bit punch-drunk and you're not giving the performance that you want to give... We're able to continue doing selective shows in the future and, as importantly, keep recording and making new metal records."
And he reveals the band is already far along in the making of their next project.
He continues, "(We) began writing new music early on this year, before we went out on the road. We have about 12 or 14 tracks completely mapped out, four of which have been recorded and mixed and are ready to go... so the good news is that there will be a brand new Priest record next year."
Judas Priest's next release will be the band's first with new guitarist Richie Faulkner, who was drafted in to replace departing original member K.K. Downing just days before the start of their big tour.