…And Bad Drum Production for All

Musically, Metallica’s …And Justice for All is one of my favorite albums ever. Production-wise, almost the exact opposite is true.

Tales have been told for years about the almost complete absence of bass on the album, but that’s really not even my biggest problem with it. No, my problem with it is something about which I know pretty much nothing, at least on the surface–the drum sounds. Whereas the later St. Anger (Not even Metallica’s worst album, by the way, [That would be Load] let alone “Worst album ever!” like a lot of people want you to believe…but I digress) suffered from the problem of Lars Ulrich using a wide variety of metal trash cans for a drum kit (Why do I actually hear the snare’s pitch changing on the title track?), …And Justice for All’s drums just aren’t big enough. The snare drum in particular is…tinny almost, lacking in power really. I notice it especially on “Blackened”. There just isn’t enough reverb, or EQ, or something.


    • James on August 18, 2008 at 1:13 am

    First off, a quick thought on Metallica’s song writing — the first 3 (often considered the best) albums had a great deal of input from Cliff Burton and Dave Mustaine; Adn Justice… still had influence from Mustaine plus quite a bit of “leftover” Burton material. The first album without any of their influence? The Black Album, which while commerically a hit was the beginning of the end of the classic Metallica sound IE Power chord riffs, double bass drums, strong solos, raw vocals… but I do digress.

    I was about to argue with you on And Justice… until I listened to a few songs. I think the bass drums and low end sound great but you are spot-on with the snare– it’s dry, but “studio” dry not naturally dry. There’s no pop to it and I’m guessing it was one of the unlayered tracks (it could have been just a bad sounding snare for all I know). The guitars sound incredible, from the solos to the harmonies. The vocals– cool, not overdone and balanced nicely. The bass = doesn’t exist. I consider myself a good audience of bass, even when it’s buried in tracks but you can barely hear it at all– the crunch of the guitars practically elimnates the need for a bass line that follows the guitars, so in theory it could have opened up some new avenues.

    Anyhow… RIP good Metallica (1982-1989).

    • emptyeye on August 18, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    If I have to pick a consecutive triumvirate of Metallica albums that I’d consider “the best”, I’d go Lightning/Puppets/Justice (Again, the last of these is maybe my favorite album ever from a musical perspective) before KMA/Lightning/Puppets. Kill ‘Em All is good and all, and has James Hetfield attempting to be thrash’s answer to Geddy Lee before his voice settled down a bit on the later albums, but it’s a bit one-dimensional for my taste compared to the next three (Which I guess is to be expected).

    As for the topic at hand, yeah, the snare just sounds…not good.. It could be due to any or none of a number of reasons (Bad miking, too much/not enough studio magic on it, a simple bad snare as you said), but I just don’t like it. Like I said, I find the drums as a whole to be lacking–the cymbals are almost too trebley, as is, oddly, the bass drum (Maybe done consciously to avoid some of the faster double bass sections turning into mush).

    Also, for what it is, I actually quite like the Black Album. Yes, I’m aware that gets my music credibility card revoked, but then I’m not exactly concerned about that at this point…how many times over the life of this website have I linked to a Rick Astley video now?

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