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DreamOfDarkness
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:09 pm
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Location: Germany
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 8:46 pm 
 

I saw the discussion about modern productions in the thread on Hell's new album and thought it would be an interesting subject to discuss more about (haven't found any recent threads about this).
During the 80's and 90's albums often had a (from a technical point of view) shitty sound because the bands were low on money and good recording equipment was rare and expensive. However in the last ten years the possiblilities to record music with a computer grew incredibly to the point where even many self-produced albums sound really good. But this striving for a cleaner and more polished sound often went on to the point where bands playing music that required a raw production got a shiny, clean "modern" sound and ended up ruining the atmosphere of the album.

In my very personal opinion the production is extremely important to the impact of an album. Remember that large parts of metal originated from Black Sabbath's debut that got it's dark and gloomy atmosphere mostly because of a rushed and cheap production. In the liner notes of the reissue it is stated that the band planned a 'nicer' sound with synths maybe or "whatever was hip at the time". Looking back, this 'flaw' in the production made the album so great and important for metal.
The production also became a trademark for many black metal bands and the extreme metal movement in the 80's in general, mostly influenced by early Venom. I couldn't imagine Pleasure to Kill or Spectrum of Death with a modern production... it would just sound forced and lame.
My questions are now:

What's you opinion on the sound of old albums? Do you (always) prefer a clean, "modern" production over a raw and dirty one? How do you judge minor flaws in the performance that weren't entirely evened out?

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Minty_252
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:32 pm
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:51 pm 
 

Well for me, production is really just a means to an end. Clean sounding modern production can work if the music and atmosphere work along with it. I would say I generally prefer low-fi and darker production but thats mainly because I tend to prefer darker and more sinister sounding music, so that production aesthetic works quite well. I tend to feel that more loosely produced albums have a lot more character to them, and I think thats because there is really only a handful of ways you can make something sound "good", but there's a million different ways to make something sound bad. So, for me atleast, it stands out more.

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TheFourHorsemen666
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:04 pm 
 

Personally I think modern production (particularly the "Andy Sneap sound") sucks a lot of the life, energy and atmosphere of the music. Triggered drums also annoy me a little bit but I can get over it and understand the practicality of it.

But one of my favorite produced albums this year is Satan's Life Sentence. It's clean and very clear but it's still organic sounding. I wish more bands would record like that.
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tomcat_ha
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:07 pm 
 

To me a significant part of disliking "modern" production are just the guitar tones and the triggered everything drum sounds. A lot of modern bands have this stupid thick fat sound that sounds like you could prick through it with a pin.

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AcidWorm
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Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:37 pm
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:21 pm 
 

Here is an informative thread on the topic of modern production.
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=99223&hilit=sneap

Personally I hate it in most instances and is why I automatically dislike most metal from the latter half of the 90s through to now. Makes stuff sound flat and boring. I need dynamic range. While it is a problem in the whole music it is most noticeable with the clicking drum triggers. Speed? Who the heck cares when it sounds like shit.
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Atropus
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Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:02 pm
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Location: Canada
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:21 pm 
 

People seem to have this hatred towards atmosphere in modern metal productions, and seem to want to constantly turn the bass up louder than the guitar.

Clicky drums have always sucked, hands down..... who the hell ever thought it sounded good in the first place???

And what's with vocalists who can't sing clean without sounding like futurepop vocalists??? The guy in Ghost a prime example....

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iamntbatman
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:25 pm 
 

A bit of technical background:

Distorted electric guitars playing chords/riffs are very noisy instruments. They produce a lot of white noise/overtones across the whole audio spectrum. They also stand up extraordinarily poorly to heavy audio manipulation once they're recorded. So, in the olden days before it was possible to tweak the living shit out of every possible part of recorded music in a huge number of ways, you just kind of had to mix everything in a way that left room for every instrument in the mix. You could do stuff like put huge reverb on drum kits and vocals (which typically fattens them way, way out in the mix) and wind up with something that sounded really cool.

However, with modern mastering and compression going on, people want their guitars to be as thick and loud as possible, which basically tramples all over the whole mix. Since you can't really cut holes in your guitars for the drums and vocals to come through without totally destroying your guitar tone, you wind up having to manipulate other stuff in other ways, like adding that obnoxious high-end clicky noise to your bass drum EQ so that you can hear the bass drums that'd otherwise get muffled to hell under all those guitars roaring around.

I think slick modern production like that can work for certain stuff, but sounds awful for other things. I can't abide super clicky bass drums though. Gross stuff.
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Atropus
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:29 pm 
 

Guitars don't need to be thick n loud......

Sodom and Sarcofago had the right idea ;)

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Element_man
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:17 am 
 

I was listening to the newer Accept, Hell and Carcass albums by Sneap. The first few times I spun them, I really loved them. The sound was big and punchy in my car and I could hear everything crystal clear. After about 3 or 4 listens, the disks wore off on me. Not because I found the material lacking, I really like the songs. It's just that when I can hear everything super pristine on the first listen, I feel like I've "gotten everything out of it" after just a few spins even those there are tons of layers and fine details on those disks. Old Manilla Road, Riot, Fates Warning and Manowar albums, there's way more depth and personality to discover and enjoy. Every band sounded different. Every album that Sneap does has the same guitars, same bass/drums. They're just not fun to listen to, unless you're only listening to music as a metronome to lift weights to or something. Most of these albums sound like soft-serve ice cream to me. No danger, no bite, no teeth.
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volutetheswarth
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:08 am 
 

It depends on the band. Obviously ones that dabbled with polished production early on should stay that route as it becomes their signature sound in way, and vice versa. More often than not my main concern is the overall mix, so many bands settle on guitars being low/vocals and drums being loud it's staggering.

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IanThrash
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:52 am 
 

The production is strictly bonded to the genre and the aesthetic of a band, it plays a huge role on the quality of the songs for me.
For instance, I can't see myself liking Darkthrone (a paradigmatic band when it comes to production matters) as much as I do if it wasn't for the vintage and extra-organic production. The Underground Resistance was fucking cool not just beacuse of the great riffing, but also because of that evil old school distortion that gave the riffs soul.
I will not take this to Fenriz's levels of appreciation for old school crude productions (check that interview in which he talks about drum sounds, good stuff) as there are many records with clear and polish sound that kick so much ass, for example Candlemass "self titled" or later Grand Magus works (even if the doomy, vintage sound was way better xD).
You have to find what production suits your music the best, some bands need cleaner production work than others. I grant you that clicky weak bass drums NEVER work and they even ruin songs with goods riffs and whatnot.
I totally dislike extremely overdriven guitars, most of the bands that go for that sort of Pantera-on-drugs distortion rely solely on palm mute and breaks, good riffs are not part of their plan.
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Turner
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:19 am 
 

it's not the crystal-clearness, it's the loudness. take an album like metallica's black album - it's so unbelievably well-produced it almost hurts, but it doesn't make your ears bleed the way andy sneap production will if the volume's up high. there's definitely an art to producing well, and guys like sneap don't have it, no matter what fucking nuclear blast thinks. these blokes can produce all the big names they want, but it just blends them all into one big lump of noisy mess that i lose interest in almost instantly.

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Xpert74
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:23 am 
 

I never knew who produced it before now, but reading this thread, it makes sense that Andy Sneap produced Exodus' Tempo of the Damned. I've always hated how sterile that album's production sounded; the drums in particular sound incredibly weak, which ruins songs like Impaler. Then again I thought the drum sound on Shovel Headed Kill Machine was somewhat of an improvement, and Sneap produced that as well.

I don't always hate a super-polished production, though. Fear Factory's Demanufacture is one of my favorite albums ever, and something like later Dimmu Borgir sounds great with a polished sound. If it's done well, an album can still sound intense and hold up upon repeated listens if it has a polished sound. I still think there's room for bands like Darkthrone to sound raw though; it's really a case by case situation.
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Exigence
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:05 am 
 

I love modern production and every few years a 'sound' develops that makes the old stuff sound horribly dated. I love Andy Sneap's style and wish all power metal could be that way....so when I go back and listen to early 2000s Hammerfall or Angel Dust, it sounds shitty. This especially applies to late 90s releases. Jesus christ....they had no chance with the changing technology.

But I also agree is suits the band. I don't know what a 'triggered' drum is but I like beefy guitars that sync up with bass drum beats for a real 'chugging' sound. The last 3 Sabaton records are my absolute favorite example. But then a band like Hail of Bullets has a different approach that suits them perfectly. Still very polished though, which is a must.

A band that doesn't have clean production just sounds poor and amateur. I want an established unit of people creating songs with the absolute best means possible. If that changes by the next release, up the ante.

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xThe__Wizard
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:51 pm 
 

Someone brought up the fact that everything is too loud and I must agree. It ruins any sort of dynamic in the mix and makes everything sound sterile as fuck. The album Infected with Violence by Hellcannon is sick, but I have trouble telling the difference between the snare and the kick drum. If the snare and the bass drum sound that similar I think its shit.
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themicrulah
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:52 pm 
 

Bass drum is called a BASS drum for a reason. Take the bass out of it and you just have CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK. That's my main problem. Yeah, drummer guy, you're playing your drums real cool there, doesn't mean were going to put your bass drum at the forefront of the mix. Fuck off!
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Atropus
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:05 pm 
 

I think I just love atmospheric production in general.

To me, old school production does wonders for just about everything. For black metal, gothic rock, ambient, doom metal, etc. reverb and low-fi sounds are necessary to convey that claustrophobic ghostly sound.

For other genres of metal/punk, it adds that genuine vintage feeling of the era when substance ruled over style.

Clean production mainly works for bands who just want to club you over the head with riffs and nothing else.

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Jonpo
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:52 pm 
 

It's interesting to me how much the talking point has revolved around atmosphere via rough production.

Just not the case for me. I simply prefer (read: need) a rough production/sound. Stuff like the Nuns EP, Into Battle, Open the Gates...the production doesn't conjure atmosphere, that's for the song-writing to do, but the SOUND of those records is so appealing to me. Today's big empty guitar tones are for the birds. And there's no reason you can't get a decently clear sound in todays modern age without sounding sterile. Someone mentioned Life Sentence and I do think that's a perfect example. I also dig the tones/sounds Road has had on the last few albums. Legions of the Deep by Arkham Witch is another one which manages to sound rough around the edges without sounding like a 4-tracker demo.
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Atropus
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:56 pm 
 

Atmosphere doesn't need to come from "rough" production, but I've definitely got a soft spot for reverb..... metal or non metal

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iamntbatman
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:09 pm 
 

An example of someone who does a really fucking good job of having clear, modern production that still gives all of the instruments room to breathe and maintains a level of grit that's just completely missing from Sneapish stuff is Kurt Ballou. I'd actually love to hear the guy produce some of the more traditional heavy metal stuff Sneap's been monopolizing the past few years as it's not really lightyears apart in general approach but is generally just...well, better.

Example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_HRhZOQ9WI
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DreamOfDarkness
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:45 pm 
 

As already mentioned a huge problem with modern productions is the guitar sound. The guitarists want their guitar to sound thick and heavy, but by that they "cosume" the entire low end of the frequency spectrum so that the bass drum and the bass guitar are often drowned out. I prefer a somewhat thinner guitar tone that gives the bass guitar some room for breathing.

An album I love a lot because of its sound is Desaster's The Arts of Destruction. It has this often absent organic feel to it; still every instrument shines through:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7e-zX8RPWx0

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Riffs
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:41 pm 
 

iamntbatman wrote:
A bit of technical background:

Distorted electric guitars playing chords/riffs are very noisy instruments. They produce a lot of white noise/overtones across the whole audio spectrum. They also stand up extraordinarily poorly to heavy audio manipulation once they're recorded. So, in the olden days before it was possible to tweak the living shit out of every possible part of recorded music in a huge number of ways, you just kind of had to mix everything in a way that left room for every instrument in the mix. You could do stuff like put huge reverb on drum kits and vocals (which typically fattens them way, way out in the mix) and wind up with something that sounded really cool.

However, with modern mastering and compression going on, people want their guitars to be as thick and loud as possible, which basically tramples all over the whole mix. Since you can't really cut holes in your guitars for the drums and vocals to come through without totally destroying your guitar tone, you wind up having to manipulate other stuff in other ways, like adding that obnoxious high-end clicky noise to your bass drum EQ so that you can hear the bass drums that'd otherwise get muffled to hell under all those guitars roaring around.

I think slick modern production like that can work for certain stuff, but sounds awful for other things. I can't abide super clicky bass drums though. Gross stuff.


You've explained it more clearly than anyone else in this thread. Although I tend to be less forgiving than you are on the end result than you are. I think that, aside from a few exceptions, it sounds like shit for most things.

The loudness war is really hurting discerning music lovers. It's not like the modern tools and techniques to master records and tweak sound are inherently bad but their use has gotten so out of hand that many bands sound entirely artificial. Plus, as you alluded to, someone or something is bound to get shorthanded in the mix when you try to push everything to the max. There's a generation of listeners out there who basically equal loudness to good and are completely oblivious to the dimension of dynamics. That's a pretty key aspect of music that's been completely evacuated.

Another aspect that concerns me that you haven't mentioned is how this affects the composition process. Take that super thick, wall-to-wall guitar sound you mentioned, for instance. A guitarist's inspiration is simply gonna be different using this thick, hyper distorted tone than it would be using a warm english tone. Also, hot-rodding your sound is much like hot-rodding your car. There comes a point where you lose manoeuvrability. There are combinations and chords which simply sound awful. This leads a lot of newer guitarists to mostly chug their way into songs that aren't very recognizable. There comes a point where you lose subtleties like pick attack, fingers, etc… all the way to cool chords.

I think it's cool how some artists and engineers have pushed the sonic landscape. In metal for instance, I can live with bands like Fear Factory. Independantly of my appreciation for the band, I understand the whole sound is part of their identity, clicky bass drum, chugging guitar with inaudible bass doubling and hyper processed vocals included. It's part of their deal. But when every guitarist wants that guitar tone independently of what they were initially trying to achieve, you lose something.

Fortunately the pendulum is swinging, in part due to an appreciation for older bands, and I'm hoping more bands will try to utilize modern tools while keeping in mind things like dynamics.
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Empyreal
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:49 pm 
 

I really think it just comes down to a case-by-case thing. I'm no audiophile - far from it in fact, since I'm actually hard of hearing and so some things probably sound different to me than they do for you all. Sneap-style productions have never bothered me too much because of this - I see why they are reviled by others, but they don't personally cause my ears all that much irritation, though I'd certainly prefer a better, more full and interesting sound overall. The worst offenders for me in terms of just annoying production jobs are Death Magnetic and World Painted Blood; just shit production on any scale.

I do tend to think metal fans blow this stuff out of proportion in other cases though. I really love power metal, some bands like Kamelot, Orden Ogan, Stratovarius, Edguy, Excalion and others - stuff with overly clean, bright, loud sounding productions, nothing at all gritty or 80s-styled about them. I think these bands have the perfect sounds for what they're going for. Yes, it's not for everyone, but I see people just using generic gripes like "it sounds so soulless" when it comes to productions from these acts. I really don't think it does. It wouldn't fit with any other kind of production.

That said, 80s style production can be awesome. They really worked with guitar tones and made their shit sound unique, evil and exciting back then. Like practical effects versus digital effects in movies - they didn't have the technology back then, but albums like Ample Destruction, To Mega Therion, Don't Break the Oath and Hypertrace have perfect productions for what they were trying to do, and much more unique then the very standardized sounds a lot of bands use now.
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sourlows
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:18 pm 
 

Element_man wrote:
I feel like I've "gotten everything out of it" after just a few spins even those there are tons of layers and fine details on those disks. Old Manilla Road, Riot, Fates Warning and Manowar albums, there's way more depth and personality to discover and enjoy.

I agree with this sentiment for the most part. A lot of modern production in the Sneap-paradigm really destroys the mystique and intrigue of songs and bands for reasons already covered in this thread. I would rather listen to an album with puzzling production like Grave Upheaval's untitled album that might obscure a lot of the details of the music, but is much more interesting in a macroscopic sense. I think the error a lot of producers make is assuming that the listener needs to hear every single fucking rhythmic element of a song distilled into a compressed and as-loud-as-possible thump. There is more to extreme music than that. I do think Gorguts' album had a production that really suited their sound nicely, and Dead Congregation's album will probably forever stand of an example of how modern production can enhance death metal without interfering too much (to be fair, DC's style is very dynamic already), but I cannot stand the shit Nuclear Blast keeps commissioning and the standards that Sneap-like productions set for the popular consumption of metal.
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thrashinbatman
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:59 pm 
 

It depends. I actually love Sneap's style, especially on the Accept stuff. I do feel that super clicky kick drums are annoying, they've got to have some umph to them. But I love modern production, I like everything being clear and easily discernible. As long as the production still packs a punch then I'm down. But, not every genre. Black metal and doom would sound weird with modern production. But it works well in thrash and power metal.

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rexxz
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 7:29 pm 
 

As with anything that can be judged subjectively there are infinite factors to deliberate upon, either consciously or not, in deciding your preference (which kind of happens on its own anyway without any effort on your part). There's nothing wrong with modern or vintage production. Only your own perception can be a deciding factor in what you find to be good or bad. If it sounds like a truism, that's because it's really fucking true.

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Exigence
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 12:44 am 
 

I listen to a lot of music as playlists on my iPhone while running. Production means everything or else there is a massive volume drop. For example, I can't have tracks from King Diamobd's "them" mixed with a 2013 release. It just doesn't work. And "them" suffers because despite being awesome, it sounds like complete shit.

But it applies across the board.

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iamntbatman
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 1:05 am 
 

Empyreal wrote:
I really think it just comes down to a case-by-case thing. I'm no audiophile - far from it in fact, since I'm actually hard of hearing and so some things probably sound different to me than they do for you all. Sneap-style productions have never bothered me too much because of this - I see why they are reviled by others, but they don't personally cause my ears all that much irritation, though I'd certainly prefer a better, more full and interesting sound overall. The worst offenders for me in terms of just annoying production jobs are Death Magnetic and World Painted Blood; just shit production on any scale.


Well, bringing this back 'round to Riffs' comment about the Loudness War: Sneap is clearly a smarter producer than the ugliest examples of Loudness War shit production. The reason stuff like Death Magnetic was so fucking awful sounding was because it was compressed to fucking hell and back universally and thus had awful digital clipping and zero dynamics. Sneap's approach isn't like that - he's acutely aware of how shitty stuff sounds once compressors start smashing the hell out of the entire mix (especially the guitars) so he's careful just to get the mix to a place where subtle compression can be used in the mastering stage to bring up the volume on the whole mix without really doing much clipping at all. It's a hell of a lot less fatiguing to the ear and certainly sounds better, but as I said before it basically does make the guitars fill out huge amounts of the spectrum compared to an 80's production, so it does wind up calling for compromises in other areas (overall dynamics, drum sound, vocals).
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AndySlayer
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:22 am 
 

To the OP: The production on Sabbath's debut is basically tertiary to why that record is awesome. It's the songwriting and performances of each band member that really shine there, and this is what should be most important for every piece of music. Ever. Production is just polish, and you can't polish a turd.

As for the others, I'd just like to shine some light on the whole guitar issue. A lot of today's metal uses substantially (key word here) less gain on the guitars than, say, '80s metal. Partly due to new hi-gain amps coming out, partly due to guitar tracks being recorded in micro-fractions of 3-5 seconds. On the upside, this means that you can really focus on the tone, timbre and dynamics of each single part, which isn't really all that bad because you can get really precise with it. On the downside of course, this means that pretty much anyone can do a solid sounding record with enough time on their hands coupled with a semi-decent level of skill. But most of the distortion and fatness really does come from the guitar player's pick and fingers, even if it's in five-second bits. I guess this really lands us in quite a predicament; on one hand you've got all the tone and power coming from the player's hands where you often had shifty productions and too much gain covering sloppy playing before, on the other you've got dudes doing metal records in a similar manner a techno DJ creates their stuff.

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somefella
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:56 am 
 

iamntbatman wrote:
Empyreal wrote:
I really think it just comes down to a case-by-case thing. I'm no audiophile - far from it in fact, since I'm actually hard of hearing and so some things probably sound different to me than they do for you all. Sneap-style productions have never bothered me too much because of this - I see why they are reviled by others, but they don't personally cause my ears all that much irritation, though I'd certainly prefer a better, more full and interesting sound overall. The worst offenders for me in terms of just annoying production jobs are Death Magnetic and World Painted Blood; just shit production on any scale.


Well, bringing this back 'round to Riffs' comment about the Loudness War: Sneap is clearly a smarter producer than the ugliest examples of Loudness War shit production. The reason stuff like Death Magnetic was so fucking awful sounding was because it was compressed to fucking hell and back universally and thus had awful digital clipping and zero dynamics. Sneap's approach isn't like that - he's acutely aware of how shitty stuff sounds once compressors start smashing the hell out of the entire mix (especially the guitars) so he's careful just to get the mix to a place where subtle compression can be used in the mastering stage to bring up the volume on the whole mix without really doing much clipping at all. It's a hell of a lot less fatiguing to the ear and certainly sounds better, but as I said before it basically does make the guitars fill out huge amounts of the spectrum compared to an 80's production, so it does wind up calling for compromises in other areas (overall dynamics, drum sound, vocals).


This. However I will say that Andy Sneap's sound works for me for certain albums like Megadeth's Endgame. That 'modern' production IMO is annoying also because it seems to be so across the board, many bands sound like they used the exact same instruments, samples, EQ settings and mics in the same studio. And it's always THAT drum sample and THAT Axe-Fx mesa/engl model.
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LVB
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 11:01 am 
 

I don't really listen to much modern music, much less modern metal, but I agree that much of what I hear is too slick, polished, and usually over compressed with no breathing room to create an atmosphere. I like raw garage like productions, but I also like "good" productions if they fit the music. So many people have commented on this topic that I won't go into it further, but instead I'll think about what Metal production jobs I really love, and share some thoughts.

Mercyful Fate: Don't Break the Oath - This is certainly the best produced of the band's 80's efforts. While I like the no frills, quick and dirty approach to the EP, DBTO really shows the potential of the idea of 'studio as instrument.' The sound is clear, the guitars carry the right amount of treble and aren't too think, allowing the music to breath. But the way each instrument is mixed, also King's vocals, are very creative in the panning - a constant delight. This album sounds better than any audiophile's wet dream of whatever they deem to be sonic perfection.

Sodom: Obsessed by Cruelty - This is an example of how a raw, "bad" production can create a whole new beast. Imagine this material recorded to sound like Sepultura's Arise and make the playing tighter. And there you go - all the awesomely evil atmosphere would be gone in a flash and we'd be left with generic thrash. The badness of this recording elevates the material.

Amorphis: Privilege of Evil - This EP has what I think of THE best sound of any Scan-Death recording EVER! This is the antithesis to the Sunlight Sound. When one describes the guitars as buzzsaws, I don't think there are any better examples than this. This is so RAW that it gives the recording a sense of occult danger and fear.

At the Gates: The Red in the Sky is Ours - Okay, not so much a favorite example but a defense. I always hear the production of this album get slagged. I feel that the thin sound only serves to highlight the mysterious occult blackmetal vibe that this record has going. Listen to "Windows," on the recent live album with loud, punchy production, and then listen to the original: every thing that makes me feel the material gets dumbed down with the modern version, with no room for the sound to breath, and get under my skin.

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somefella
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 11:03 am 
 

AndySlayer wrote:
As for the others, I'd just like to shine some light on the whole guitar issue. A lot of today's metal uses substantially (key word here) less gain on the guitars than, say, '80s metal. Partly due to new hi-gain amps coming out, partly due to guitar tracks being recorded in micro-fractions of 3-5 seconds. On the upside, this means that you can really focus on the tone, timbre and dynamics of each single part, which isn't really all that bad because you can get really precise with it. On the downside of course, this means that pretty much anyone can do a solid sounding record with enough time on their hands coupled with a semi-decent level of skill. But most of the distortion and fatness really does come from the guitar player's pick and fingers, even if it's in five-second bits. I guess this really lands us in quite a predicament; on one hand you've got all the tone and power coming from the player's hands where you often had shifty productions and too much gain covering sloppy playing before, on the other you've got dudes doing metal records in a similar manner a techno DJ creates their stuff.


This too. In my band we use as little punch-ins as possible even if it ends up requiring 20 or more takes. And even then, for any parts that ARE punched in I can already hear some subtle differences between recording it the right way and I imagine those differences would contribute greatly to the sterility of the final mix, especially since like you mentioned earlier, many bands punch in and then copy+paste so much of their tracks.

I guess we can call it taste but I'll always prefer a guitar tone with just enough gain and a guitar player who fucking drags the heaviness out of the amp with a solid pick attack.
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Atropus
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 1:04 pm 
 

LVB wrote:
I don't really listen to much modern music, much less modern metal, but I agree that much of what I hear is too slick, polished, and usually over compressed with no breathing room to create an atmosphere. I like raw garage like productions, but I also like "good" productions if they fit the music. So many people have commented on this topic that I won't go into it further, but instead I'll think about what Metal production jobs I really love, and share some thoughts.

Mercyful Fate: Don't Break the Oath - This is certainly the best produced of the band's 80's efforts. While I like the no frills, quick and dirty approach to the EP, DBTO really shows the potential of the idea of 'studio as instrument.' The sound is clear, the guitars carry the right amount of treble and aren't too think, allowing the music to breath. But the way each instrument is mixed, also King's vocals, are very creative in the panning - a constant delight. This album sounds better than any audiophile's wet dream of whatever they deem to be sonic perfection.

Sodom: Obsessed by Cruelty - This is an example of how a raw, "bad" production can create a whole new beast. Imagine this material recorded to sound like Sepultura's Arise and make the playing tighter. And there you go - all the awesomely evil atmosphere would be gone in a flash and we'd be left with generic thrash. The badness of this recording elevates the material.

Amorphis: Privilege of Evil - This EP has what I think of THE best sound of any Scan-Death recording EVER! This is the antithesis to the Sunlight Sound. When one describes the guitars as buzzsaws, I don't think there are any better examples than this. This is so RAW that it gives the recording a sense of occult danger and fear.

At the Gates: The Red in the Sky is Ours - Okay, not so much a favorite example but a defense. I always hear the production of this album get slagged. I feel that the thin sound only serves to highlight the mysterious occult blackmetal vibe that this record has going. Listen to "Windows," on the recent live album with loud, punchy production, and then listen to the original: every thing that makes me feel the material gets dumbed down with the modern version, with no room for the sound to breath, and get under my skin.


TFA.... Totally Fucking Agree!!!

Especially on Privilege of Evil, my current favorite death metal release of all time!!

Also look outside of metal....... Skinny Puppy and Bauhaus also used quite primitive recording techniques in their early works. Imagining the early Puppy recordings with the production of an aggrotech album, it would sap out all of that ultra-dark chaotic energy that made them special!!!

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Kveldulfr
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 2:03 pm 
 

I made a huge as fuck post about production matters, but since my explorer crashed, I just wanna say that there's no recipe for good production in terms of tone. Clicky bass drums might work well in some instances, same as engl/mesa distortions and Steven Slate/Superior 2.0 sample libraries.

What I expect is a good mix with everything audible in a more or less same rate. I like, for example Bloodbath's NMF' production, so I love Burzum's HLTO, Death's TSOP and Borknagar's debut.
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Frank Booth
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 2:44 pm 
 

iamntbatman wrote:
An example of someone who does a really fucking good job of having clear, modern production that still gives all of the instruments room to breathe and maintains a level of grit that's just completely missing from Sneapish stuff is Kurt Ballou. I'd actually love to hear the guy produce some of the more traditional heavy metal stuff Sneap's been monopolizing the past few years as it's not really lightyears apart in general approach but is generally just...well, better.

Example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_HRhZOQ9WI


Colin Marston is another producer who is making pristine-sounding albums without brickwalling them to shit. The last Origin album was a perfect example: it was clear and clean-sounding, but it was still able to breathe and stretch itself out a little without sacrificing its underlying impact. Same goes for Colored Sands.

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CloggedUrethra
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 2:52 pm 
 

I don't care if it's an over-produced modern sound or a terribly recorded raw sound, as long as I can kind of hear everything decently enough then that's fine. It's the songwriting that matters, and recording/production quality is just make-up. But if I had to choose between an over-produced modern sound with triggered drums and 100 punch-ins, or a raw and real recording, I'd choose the raw/real one every time.
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CCSaint10
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 2:58 pm 
 

I can definitely echo all the comments about the loudness war. It's a dumb trend that has really hurt quite a lot of modern music, so when I come across an album that doesn't have it in this day and age, I'm pretty impressed. Cauldron's "Tomorrow's Lost" is leveled like an album from the late 80s/early 90s and sounds that much better for it. I'm glad that it seems that Earache is finally moving towards preserving the dynamics of recordings in their new stuff as well as their old stuff, with all those full dynamic range reissues coming out and all.

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Wrldeatr
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 3:37 pm 
 

Some albums of "old" sound pretty good. I have nothing against Scott Burns productions for instance. They're all excellent and he gave each band a unique sound. And that's a problem I see these days. Of course a hundred thousand bands can't possibly all sounds that differently. One problem with old production is the low volume. Of course these days, they're going in the opposite direction, almost too much. I'm sure it will get to some rational level in the future.

A clear and clean sound is admirable and most bands want it. That's not the problem. And neither are triggers, please. What I can't stand is weak and wimpy sound- like well, almost all death metal has. Extreme metal should sound extreme and yes, br00tal. Carcass' Surgical Steel is a fine example of how an album shouldn't sound. It's awful, way to sterile. And perhaps that's where a bit of rawness and dirt would help these producers give albums a bit more character, especially where it's appropriate. A band like Eluveitie benefits of a wilder sound like found on Slania. While Colin Richardson nearly ruined Everything Remains... with his hyper sanitized sound.

I think I would prefer for minor flaws to be left in instead of aiming and I guess these days achieving perfection by algorithmizing the musicians' performances. I look forward to the days when the pendulum will swing back to a healthy mean between clarity and character. It is doable, but I don't know why extreme metal is so stuck in its ways when it should be far more daring and visionary. Children of Bodom manage to have a fantastic sound on most of their albums, powerful, brutal, with a crunchy guitar sound, thundering bass and punchy drums. And outside of what MA considers "metal" you find producers achieving a much more balanced sound, where all instruments are distinguishable, clear, and yet powerful. Metal needs to start looking outside of the 5 or 6 obligatory producers because to me they're clearly out of ideas.

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tomcat_ha
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:59 pm 
 

This thread makes me think about the tone i want for my own band.
Right now my vision is to combine my jcm2000 with a dr. no kafuzz pedal tightened with a tubescreamerlike pedal and to have a HM2'd gravely bass cut through that.
Would that work? I can not really try anything right now as we haven't found a new guitar player yet nor do i have the pedals i need for this save the HM2.

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narsilianshard
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:46 pm 
 

To anyone interested in metal production and dynamics therein, I suggest checking out Metal-Fi. It's a great site run by super knowledgeable dudes who go into the nitty gritty details about how metal albums are produced. They even include the dynamic range "number" extracted from the music that shows how dynamic an albums sound is in specifically measured terms.
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