Avenged Sevenfold lead singer M. Shadows – the rock singer presumably in the final stages of completing his metal band’s anticipated eighth studio album – recently felt that the “pop” production had helped ” downfall of rock and metal”.
The musician said in a Tweeter Wednesday (July 13), “Hot take: sampled percussion and the ‘sound war’ were major contributors to rock and metal’s downfall. The listener does not need to know exactly what it is to feel it unconsciously. Rock shouldn’t have a “pop” production. (See below.)
After stating his case, Shadows engaged in subsequent comments from his Twitter followers. Avenged Sevenfold fans who follow him know that the group is working on a new album, the sequel to 2016 The scene, for several years. Shadows previously said it should be released later this year or early next.
Mr. Shadows vs. the Loudness Wars
Was the musician in the mastering studio putting the finishing touches on the effort by writing the tweet? This may explain a feeling of exhaustion with the “volume wars”, the tendency to increase audio levels in recorded music to be perceived by the ear as louder. Unfortunately, the method can also decrease fidelity.
Drum sampling is the digital method of copying and pasting previously recorded drum hits over a drummer’s actual playing live in the studio to achieve better consistency.
But are these and other modern recording techniques really detrimental to rock and metal? Looking back, the sonic tussle with volume has continued since the earliest days of recorded music.
A bit of history on the Loudness Wars
“The ‘sound wars’ date back to the days of [vinyl single] 45s,” veteran mastering engineer Bob Ludwig told NPR in 2009. “When I got into the business and was doing a lot of cutting vinyl records, one producer after another just wanted his 45 to sound stronger than that of the neighbour.”
That way, “when the program director of the Top 40 radio station was going through his pile of 45s to decide which two or three he was going to add that week,” Ludwig added, “that the record would kind of skip to the program director, at least at the auditory level.”
However, Shadows doesn’t seem explicitly against pop production on its own merits. “A perfect example of a brilliantly produced and mastered ‘pop’ record is Daft Punk Random access memories,” the singer added in the follow-up tweet.
Still, the Avenged Sevenfold lead singer stuck to his idea overall. “If the drums have been replaced with samples and you can’t hear the room…and the master levels have been pushed to extract all the dynamics…those records are screwed,” he later replied. Shadows also lamented that the approach is “kind of becoming the norm”.
The Avenged Sevenfold frontman has plenty of other outspoken perspectives on rock and metal music. In the past few months alone, he’s remarked on where streaming services fit in the music industry, how Kanye West has influenced new music from Avenged Sevenfold, and which Guns N’ Roses album deserves more credit.