Metallica Cranks It Up to Eleven

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Metallica’s latest album Death Magnetic, released last Friday, is faring well critically in terms of its actual content. Critics are comparing the album to the heavy metal heavy hitters’ earlier releases (particularly the very successful “Black Album“) and are generally receptive and complimentary of Hetfield and Co.’s work. One aspect of Death Magnetic that is not garnering praise, however, is its sound quality (or lack thereof).

Metallica’s latest album Death Magnetic, released last Friday, is faring well critically in terms of its actual content. Critics are comparing the album to the heavy metal heavy hitters’ earlier releases (particularly the very successful “Black Album“) and are generally receptive and complimentary of Hetfield and Co.’s work. One aspect of Death Magnetic that is not garnering praise, however, is its sound quality (or lack thereof).

Everyone knows that in heavy metal, volume is king (if you weren’t aware of this fact, take the following action immediately: 1) go to your local Blockbuster 2) rent This Is Spinal Tap 3) proceed to rock out in the only way the metal gods intended: LOUD). So I”s no surprise that for their latest project, Metallica would want nothing less than to provide their fans with a true, ear-splitting metal experience.

Therein lies the issue. In order to achieve such high levels of volume, the audio aspect (not the actual file size) of songs must be compressed. The more you compress, the louder your song, and thus, the happier your customer, right? Not necessarily. Increased compression invariably leads to decreased dynamic range, making songs louder but of a significantly lower quality.

Death Magnetic is about as compressed as they come, and many fans are angry over the album’s poor sound quality. The compression is allegedly so heavy that some of the album’s songs are actually distorted, and the version of Death Magnetic released to Guitar Hero actually sounds better than a physical copy. Fans are demanding a re-mix (and no, that doesn’t involve calling in Justice, although that would make for some pretty amazing remixes…) via this petition.

Head engineer Ted Jensen sees a silver lining in it all, saying “Believe me I’m not proud to be associated with this one, and we can only hope that some good will come from this in some form of backlash against volume above all else.”

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