Metallica,’Death Magnetic’, Guitar Hero and the loudness debate
Metallica are an American heavy metal band that formed in 1981 in Los Angeles. They are arguably the biggest rock acts of all time and have an army of devoted followers.
‘Death Magnetic’ Metallica’s latest album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 490,000 copies in just three days of availability. It is the band’s fifth consecutive studio album to debut at number one, making Metallica the first and only band with the most consecutive studio releases to open at number one. The album also had the highest first week sales of any Metallica album since 1996’s Load.
However this release has been the subject of great debate amongst the fans regarding its production, sound quality and more specifically the mastering process. The debate even has even gone as far as coverage on BBC Radio 6, The Guardian and leading Rolling Stone to cite a petition from fans to remix or remaster the album!
Death Magnetic is the ninth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica, released on September 12, 2008 by Warner Bros. Records. It is the band’s first studio album to feature current bassist Robert Trujillo, as well as the first to be produced by Rick Rubin. Death Magnetic is also the band’s first studio album released through Warner Bros., although they still remain with Warner Music Group, which also owns Elektra Records, their previous label (internationally they remain on Vertigo Records). The album is the band’s fifth consecutive studio album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 in the United States, making Metallica the first band ever to achieve five consecutive number one debut
The album has been criticized for having compromised sound quality and being compressed “past the point of distortion”. Sean Michaels of The Guardian explains that “the sound issues are a result of the “loudness war” - an ongoing industry effort to make recordings as loud as possible”.
Comparison of the CD and Guitar Hero versions. Is the CD modern and loud or digital compressed noise??
A Rolling Stone article states that Rick Rubin was “overseeing mixes in Los Angeles while the band is in Europe, headlining shows” and only communicated with him by conference calls.Fans have noted that these sonic problems are not present in the Guitar Hero version of the album, where the tracks are present separately because of the game mechanics. MusicRadar and Rolling Stone attribute a quote to the album’s mastering engineer Ted Jensen in which he claims that “mixes were already brick-walled before they arrived” for mastering and cite a petition from fans to remix or remaster the album.
Metallica and Rick Rubin initially declined to comment on the issue, while the band’s co-manager Cliff Burnstein stated that complainers were in a minority and that response to the album had otherwise been “overwhelmingly positive”.Lars Ulrich later confirmed in an interview with Blender, that some creative control regarding the album’s production had indeed been transferred to Rubin but also stressed his satisfaction with the final product.
Analysis of the levels in the tracks shows it is VERY loud. Great-sounding albums typically average an RMS loudness of -16 to -12 dBFS, however i recent years louder albums have pushed much higher, for example -8 or -6 dBFS.
CD manufacturers seemingly are distorting sounds to make them seem louder. Sound quality clearly suffers.
The video was made with image editing software and a screen capture program for the visuals, and a DAW (Digital Performer 4.5) to process the audio.
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