Metallica Death Magnetic Sounds Better on Guitar Hero III
Metallica is possibly the greatest rock band to do everything it can to alienate fans. The latest stain on the controversial metal act’s karma comes from questionable recording tactics on its latest album Death Magnetic. Hailed as Metallica’s best work in years, it’s simultaneously derided for featuring studio work consistent of an over-compressed TV ad.
Legendary rock producer Rick Rubin is known for taking established bands, shaking off the dust and complacency before getting them to roll up their sleeves and get back to basics. He’s done it for names like Jay-Z, Linkin Park, Slipknot, Slayer and even Johnny Cash. For Death Magnetic he brought Metallica back to the band’s breakout sound, reminiscent of …And Justice for All.
Metallica Takes the Wrong Side in the Loudness War
It’s an annoying trend in studio recording – pumping up the loudness to the point of digital clipping. It’s why TV ads sound overly loud and so, so annoying. But in the minds of many, an overly loud recording gets attention.
Sacrificing of dynamic range for an overly-loud, distorted mess is an acoustic quality one might hear emanating from a high-school parking lot, not something you’d associate with audio professionals like Metallica and Rick Rubin.
For details on this annoying trend fashionably referred to as the Loudness War our own Gene DellaSala explains in: Current Trends in the Recording Format Arena. To paraphrase Gene - in an effort to produce louder, in-your-face recordings, producers deliberately violate accepted practices. One would think that a seasoned veteran like Rubin would know better when he stepped into the studio to cut Death Magnetic with the boys from the Bay. It’s just one more symptom of the dumbing down of audio.
In an effort to cement Metallica’s latest effort as a powerhouse in rock, the CD release drives the bottom-end beyond acceptable levels. It robs the recording of dynamic range, leaving fans with a clipped and distorted mess. Any Audioholic knows where they stand on the Loudness War, what’s difficult to understand is how any recording professional can possibly be for boosting sound beyond acceptable levels. When any given recording can be compared with a re-release or on another format – the villainy of the loudness boost becomes apparent and that’s exactly what has happened with Death Magnetic.
Metallica’s latest album was also released to Activision’s Guitar Hero III. In stark contrast to the CD version, the video game features surprisingly superior sound quality. The Guitar Hero III version was released without the annoying bass-boost and features much more sonically accurate sound quality that has been charted and well documented across the Internet.
Mastering Engineer & DVD Author and blogger Ian Shepherd examined the issue closer and posted his own screen-shot of the recording levels used on the CD vs. the Guitar Hero III version. Sadly the MP3 version available on sources like iTunes uses the same crappy, distorted version of the recording as the CD. But rest assured the, ahem, file-sharing community is hard at work putting together a sonically liberated, digital version of Death Magnetic.
According to Ian’s post, Rubin and Metallica are solely to blame and not some faceless studio engineer. Sacrificing of dynamic range for an overly-loud, distorted mess is an acoustic quality one might hear emanating from a high-school parking lot, not something you’d associate with audio professionals like Metallica and Rick Rubin.
In terms of musical style, it's a very welcome return to the "Master of Puppets" and "...And Justice for All" era (easily my favourite Metal Licker albums). But, jeez, the sound quality...
The clipping and distortion are so high it's really unpleasant on the ears. If I'd gone into a music shop and listened to it on a pair of headphones, I'd have assumed the 'phones were damaged.
I saw a very good post on another forum, where a guy noted that a rock album should make you want to turn the volume up, whereas this one makes you want to turn it down. Surely that completely defeats the point of trying to make it loud during the production process.
Less "Master of Puppets" and more "Mastered by Muppets".
EDIT: Sign that petition! http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/re-mix-or-remaster-death-magnetic.html [gopetition.com]
This just hit the press (as far as I know).
Has the ritualistic cranking up of the volume of music tracks finally reached a tipping point? Now many of the fans of heavy metal outfit Metallica are complaining that the band's latest effort, Death Magnetic, is too simply loud. And yes, that's a bad thing.
Upon reading this I immediately lapsed into memory lane where Audioholics wrote:
Metallica is possibly the greatest rock band to do everything it can to alienate fans. The latest stain on the controversial metal acts karma comes from questionable recording tactics on its latest album Death Magnetic.
Congrats to Audioholics for breaking news into the news world. Let's face it, the "mainstream" (is Yahoo "mainstream":confused media is just too slow to keep up.:o
The irony in all this is Metallica actually has tailored this album to sound better on downloadable devices like ipods and little cube computer speakers than on a actual home theatre system. For a band that was so against Napster and downloadable ...
Intersting point Minus... kinda mind bloggling actually.