Lars Ulrich Still Not Really Into Getting Feedback From People Online

Sep 29th, 2008 // 15 Comments

Sure, even people who enjoy Metallica’s Death Magnetic have been quibbling about the sound quality on Metallica’s newest album, saying that it’s lacking in dynamics and that the version recorded for a freaking video game sounds better, but outspoken drummer Lars Ulrich is sticking his fingers in his ears and telling all the naysayers to shut up shut up shut shut shut up. “Listen,” Ulrich told Blender‘s blog, “there’s nothing up with the audio quality. It’s 2008, and that’s how we make records.” Oh, you bet he had more to say.

“[Producer] Rick Rubin’s whole thing is to try and get it to sound lively, to get it to sound loud, to get it to sound exciting, to get it to jump out of the speakers. Of course, I’ve heard that there are a few people complaining. But I’ve been listening to it the last couple of days in my car, and it sounds fuckin’ smokin’.

“Somebody told me about [people complaining that the Guitar Hero version of Death Magnetic sounds better]. Listen, what are you going to do? A lot of people say [the CD] sounds great, and a few people say it doesn’t, and that’s OK. You gotta remember, when we put out …And Justice for All, people were going, ‘What happened to these guys, this record? There’s no bass on it. It sounds like it was recorded in a fuckin’ garage on an eight-track.’ And now …And Justice for All is sort of the seminal Metallica record that supposedly influenced a whole generation of death-metal bands. The difference between back then and now is the Internet.

“The Internet gives everybody a voice, and the Internet has a tendency to give the complainers a louder voice. Listen, I can’t keep up with this shit. Part of being in Metallica is that there’s always somebody who’s got a problem with something that you’re doing: ‘James Hetfield had something for breakfast that I don’t like.’ That’s part of the ride.

“I will say that the overwhelming response to this new record has exceeded even our expectations as far as how positive it is. So I’m not gonna sit here and get caught up in whether [the sound] ‘clips’ or it doesn’t ‘clip.’ I don’t know what kind of stereos these people listen on. Me and James [Hetfield] made a deal that we would hang back a little and not get in the way of whatever Rick’s vision was. That’s not to put it on him – it’s our record, I’ll take the hit, but we wanted to roll with Rick’s vision of how Metallica would sound.”

“The difference between then and now is the Internet”??? Sounds like someone hasn’t been looking at the hard evidence. Lars, I know that things like “math” and “charts” and “dealing with the fact that you’ve been knocked down a peg by a kinda-scary mutation of how people congregate around bands they like, and are just as ready to knock them down as they are to build them up” are hard, but really.

EXCLUSIVE: Metallica Drummer Lars Ulrich Breaks Band’s Silence on Death Magnetic Loudness Controversy [Blender]

  1. Anonymous

    I don’t care how seminal it is: …and Justice for All is the sound of soggy cornflakes.

  2. Anonymous

    Seriously, what did you expect this douchebag to say?

  3. Anonymous

    Right, and other bands ARE listening to online criticisms and NOT
    making their albums loud because of what online people think? Get
    over yourselves. Yes the album is loud and that’s not a good thing,
    but it’s not like Metallica is the only band doing that thing –
    they’re just the one that people pick on because it’s, well, Metallica.

  4. nonce

    @Kodiak: Lars rocks so hard that sometimes he rocks his hair right off. He’ll have an assistant catch and reattach it before the encore.

  5. Lax Danja House

    I think he is right in the fact that most people genuinely don’t care/notice the difference. It sounds niggly to me, but I listen to an awful lot of music- most of the people I’ve talked to about it had no idea there even was a controversy.

  6. bburl

    Of course Lars doesn’t hear a difference, the guy is a heavy metal drummer whose been doing concerts for 25 years. I’d be surprised if he can hear the difference between mono and stereo.

    And he doesn’t care about the way the record sounds to other people. It’s a product, not art, and the bottom line isn’t artistic integrity, it’s sales. So if clipping, and distortion, and general sonic inferiority sell more units, then it’s all good.

    As far as the average person not knowing or caring, I’m reminded of George Carlin who said “Think of how stupid the average person is, then realize half of the population is stupider than that.” Kinda explains George Bush and death magnetic style mastering.

    What is disappointing is Metallic put out a $125 5 record set specifically for audiophiles, then used the crap cd premaster. Which basically tells the fans who want to hear it in the best possible light, ‘fu and we’re keeping your money’.

  7. T'Challa

    @bburl: Well said. And the facts of that last paragraph are just sad and really lame of Metallica. What’s worse, you know that at some point they’ll actually remaster it and release it for some inflated rate that enough people will buy to make it profitable. And Lars will be another fucking expensive painting and life goes on…

  8. Lax Danja House

    @bburl: Well it’s great that you have such a high opinion of yourself, but the fact remains: audiophiles are no more important than the band’s millions of other fans. Metallica are fully entitled to use modern technology to make their product exactly the way they want it, and it’s slightly bizarre to suggest that they should make any extra effort not to offend the sensibilities of an audiophile minority.

  9. Anonymous

    @Lax Danja House: Not sure that Metallica is making it exactly the way they want it — I’d be inclined to think their record label had quite a bit of influence on this record.

  10. Kodiak

    Where’s his hair going? :-)

  11. NeverEnough

    @Reidicus: Good point.

    I finally heard the new Metallica CD. The sound truly is awful.

  12. bburl

    @ Lax Danja House: Then why release an audiophile version that’s not audiophile if not to scam certain fans?

    And the the crux of the loudness war is degrading audio merely so it stands out during ipod shuffle play, which means a generation of audio is being created that is much less than optimal. Because to stand out today, a record has to be REALLY FUCKING L-O-U-D!!!!! Maybe one day you’ll have a nice stereo($1000 or so) and want to listen to your favourite bands and hear just what I’m talking about. It’s not about smoothed out dynamics, or compression per se (which are fine). It’s about marked degradation, clipping, continual distortion, and hyper-compression.

  13. Reidicus

    It occurs to me now, that a mid-90s song containing one of my favorite moments: the huge initial guitar wallop in Hum’s “Stars,” wouldn’t even be POSSIBLE with today’s mastering fashions. The quiet build-up would be just as loud as the big hit, rendering the whole thing punchless.

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