At first sight there’s something deliciously ironic about the fact that fans of Heavy Metal music – in particular the “Death” and “Thrash” varieties – are the ones who complain most bitterly about the loudness wars.
Most notable of course is Metallica’s infamous Death Magnetic, but consistently I see more and more comments by fans of the loudest, most aggressive styles of music who hate the damage done by excessive compression and brick-wall limiting.
But why is this ? These people are all deaf to begin with from attending too many loud gigs and constant head-banging, right !?!
Well, no. In fact, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense, because without quiet, there can be no loud. And the whole point about metal is that it should be played – and listened to – loud. (Well, one of the points, anyway !)
But a recording that has no dynamic contrast left in it doesn’t sound loud (ie. punchy, hard-hitting, aggressive) when it’s been crushed to death – it just sounds “wimpy loud” instead.
I didn’t make the video above, but it illustrates the point perfectly, and proves yet again that there’s more to metal (and metal fans) than just moshing and \m/ emoticons.
Hats off to them, and let’s hope the bands, labels and producers are listening…
(And, if you’re making music and want to know how to make your recordings sound loud without crushing it to death, click here.)