Ryan Adams is to release a heavy metal album.

The alternative rock and country singer announced the surprising move - which also marks the end of his year-long musical hiatus - on his website.

He wrote: "We're going to begin pressing 'Orion' - my most legit METAL record - on vinyl next week. Have a listen to the song below and let us know if you'd be interested in purchasing one."

Joking about a particular make of guitar favoured by heavy metal musicians, he wrote underneath: "P.S. Not a single B.C. Rich was hurt in the making of this record."

As well as posting the track, called 'Electrosnake', the singer asked fans to vote whether they would buy the full album, prompting speculation it could be part of an elaborate joke.

After 70,000 voted over last weekend to indicate they would buy the album, Ryan then posted a message on his facebook page.

He wrote: "Unreal, 69,567 people want a copy. That's too many, but still... It's so cool getting to figure out what the manufacture numbers are before you go to press. The future, y'all!"

Since announcing his retirement from music last year - citing problems with his inner ear and being tired of the "soul-destroying" nature of celebrity - Ryan has released two books of poetry and short fiction.