Why Metallica’s ‘Death Magnetic’ Is So Weird Mastering-Wise, Tool Engineer Explains

Tool engineer Joe Barresi opened up about Metallica’s 2008 album, ‘Death Magnetic‘ and recent studio album, ‘Hardwired… to Self-Destruct‘ during an appearance on Let There Be Talk, and apparently, the previous album has peculiar elements when it comes to mastering.

As some of you might know, Joe Barresi is a well-known record engineer and producer who previously has worked with Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Avenged Sevenfold, Slipknot, and many more over the years. Thus, he created himself a well-known name in the music industry whose opinions are valued and mattered.

Death Magnetic‘ is the ninth studio album by Metallica which was released on September 12, 2008, making the band the first to achieve five consecutive number-one studio albums on the U.S. Billboard 200 in addition to receiving positive reviews and being nominated for six Grammy Awards, winning three, including Best Metal Performance for ‘My Apocalypse.’ However, the 2008 album was also criticized due to its production which was overcompressed and cited as a product of the ‘loudness war’ which was a popular effort to make recordings as loud as possible.

Metallica’s last studio album, ‘Hardwired…to Self-Destruct’ was released as a double album on November 18, 2016, and was also produced by Greg Fidelman, who engineered and mixed the previous album, ‘Death Magnetic.’ The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 just as expected, selling 291,000 album-equivalent units in its first week, and topping the charts in 57 countries.

During a recent interview, famous record producer Joe Barresi opened up about the two latest recordings of Metallica and revealed that while the latest studio album sounds amazing, ‘Death Magnetic’ has an odd aspect when it comes to mastering since it sounds extremely loud.

Here is what Barresi said:

“The last one sounds killer! The one before that, ‘Death Magnetic’ is so weird mastering-wise. Mastering guys started doing shit where they’re mastering the instrumental version because there’s no vocal they can fuck with, they can make that punishing loud.

And then they master the vocal, and then they kind of do their own mix where they put the vocal in there. And that’s how that shit happens, you can get this kind of volume and crustiness. And there’s all the grief where they blame the mastering guy, or they blame the producer, or they blame the engineer, or the mixer… And I’ve had it happen to me where somebody tried to take a mix and put it on from the stems. But I’m like, ‘This sounds like shit, just leave the fucking mix.’

You don’t need that many options. If it’s shitty, I’ll remix it. Call me up and say, ‘It sucks and I can’t do anything with this,’ and I’ll remix it. I really like the way the last Metallica record sounds like. Greg Fidelman took it back into the realm of…”

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