It was, perhaps, only to be expected: Metallica might have embraced digital downloads to promote the new album, but not to any great quality:
"My name is Benjamin. I work in fan support for Mission: Metallica.
"I am sorry for the bulk e-mail, but we've heard from quite a few of you regarding the sound quality on the single release of 'The Day That Never Comes'.
"The source of the problem, as you might imagine, goes all the way back to the creation of the track from master — but this is not how it will sound on the album.
"We've identified the source of the problem to prevent it in any subsequent singles released in advance of September 12.
"If we can have another one put together and sent out prior to that date, there may be a higher-quality release of 'The Day That Never Comes' made available, but I can't guarantee it at this time."
I love that "as you might imagine" chucked in there. The strange thing, of course, is that the fault on the track - loud distortion and clipping - appeared on the version released through iTunes and to radio. Since everyone who heard it noticed, the conclusion has to be that nobody involved with Metallica could be bothered to listen to thing all the way through, or, indeed, wanted to.