Thursday, September 25, 2008


So, I've been meaning to write about Metallica's Death Magnetic for a while. I think it's a good album, very solid, I'd give it a "B." It's not a classic on the level of Kill 'Em All, Ride The Lightning, Master Of Puppets and ...and Justice For All. I think it's as good as "The Black Album" (although lacking in singles that are as catchy) and definitely better than Load, Reload and especially St. Anger

But there's been a lot of controversy around the album's sound... that is, the way it was mastered. Oddly enough, I remember complaints like this when Justice came out: the drums sounded awful and there was no bass. This time, it's actually that the album is "too loud." Meaning that there's little dynamic space between the loud parts of the album and the quiet parts.  I wrote a bit about this in May, citing an article in England's Telegraph. That hi fidelity is dying because of mp3s and ipods. 

In the past few weeks, there's been controversy about Death Magnetic, with people saying that the album sounds better on Guitar Hero than it sounds on CD, and allegations that the guy who mastered the album, Ted Jensen, didn't like the way it came out.  Here's a story about this from the Wall Street Journal - which Metallica and producer Rick Rubin declined to comment on. 

It's a shame that artists are catering their albums toward such a low fidelity format. I wonder if I'll listen to Death Magnetic the way I listen to the first four Metallica albums ten years from now. And if I don't, I wonder if it's because it gives me ear fatigue due to the lack of dynamics. 

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