Saturday, July 6, 2013

Modern Metal Production (And Why I Hate It! Part One)

Its been asked by friends and others why I don't listen to a lot of modern albums. For awhile, I looked at it as just a sign of being jaded after hearing literally thousands of albums, having been a long time veteran of the Metal scene, etc. But as I dug deeper and deeper into self-analysis on this subject, something became clear. I found that the problem I have with a lot of modern Metal isn't neccesarily because of stylistic permutations or lack of songwriting skills (though sometimes this is a culprit), its been because the production on a lot of modern albums are lacking. What does "lacking" mean? Well its not some "necro black metal" trend of production or anything of that matter. As a matter of fact, I am a big fan of the mid-nineties Black Metal scene, and did not like some of the commercial derivations of that, including bands like Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir. Emeperor, Mayhem, or Satyricon may have sounded raw but their production had dynamics that were still exciting and entertained the listener. And it is well known my love for early punk and hardcore. So its not the rawness of a production that turns me off, and at the converse end its not a "slick" production either. Even if its lacking in songwriting power compared to their first four, I still find Metallica's Black Album to have a lushly sheen and very dynamic and full range of sounds. If you hear songs from it on "Solid Rock" or hard rock radio, it stands against the Shinedowns or Five Finger Death Punches which sound flat in comparison. And therein lies the problem. Many bands choose compression over dynamics, and "loudness" over quality in production. In this series I'll explore the history of the phenomenon and my theories on why it has permeated the music industry.

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