A2000The hype train chugs along, never stopping, always changing direction, and continuously boarding and ejecting passengers. Such is the way of the metal press; we collectively run to cling on to the sides of the cars as they pass by, only to jump from their doors days later, hit the ground rolling, dust ourselves off and search for a new ride. Recently, as you’ve probably noticed, coal has been heaped into the firebox as metal zines blow the horn for the juggernaut’s latest destination, Fallujah’s The Flesh Prevails. And, speaking as someone who is a fan of the band, I can’t really figure out why. The Harvest Wombs was an excellent debut, and the Nomadic EP saw the group embracing atmosphere and trance electronic elements with greater fervour than before, yet the praise they receive seems to outpace their actual output. But with the collective effervescent adulation that The Flesh Prevails has inspired so far, my skepticism would seem poised for destruction.

Unfortunately, the only objects, material or not, that this album poses a threat to are the traces of the reptilian jaw joint that rest in my middle ear. Fallujah have once again written and released nuanced and unique music, but I’m still standing on the side of the tracks. The Flesh Prevails exactly meets my expectations, exceeding only my prediction for volume, which “Starlit Path” blows away almost immediately. Though it’s slow, misty bass and synth intro will reassure any fan of the clarity of Fallujah’s musical direction, it takes only about twenty seconds to realize that something’s very wrong with this record’s mastering. Fallujah 2014Throughout the introduction there is a near constant crackle and spittle as the supposedly subdued guitar chords assault the upper barrier of the track’s volume levels. This is supposed to be a tranquil and moody moment, but instead of being calming, it makes me frustrated and annoyed. Fallujah has always been about sound at full saturation, but never before has the saturation chipped away at the music like this. At almost every moment free of the huge rhythm guitar sound, there’s a noticeable popping and crunching that makes the music sound like it’s been pressed onto a record made of quartzite – “Carved From Stone” indeed.

Fortunately, when one looks past the abysmal mastering job that’s become a trademark of Unique Leader releases, it’s clear that the more focused and atmospheric Nomadic sound has been built upon brilliantly in The Flesh Prevails. The drumming and basslines are just as pummelling as the guitar leads are soaring and clear, and Alex Hofmann’s monstrous voice tears through the instrumentals with ease. As much as I hate Zack Ohren’s approach to mastering, the guy’s mixing work is excellent.

The first half of The Flesh Prevails builds steam from the first moments of “Starlit Path” through “The Night Reveals” only to drop in energy for the start of fast-paced, but free title track, which repeats the melodic motif from “The Night Reveals” through warbling guitar leads, culminating in a brief, but well-earned bout of heaviness. Going into the latter half, things get a bit more diverse; Andrew Baird’s drumming becomes less uniformly blasty, the bass plays more complex and prominent lines (especially in “Levitation”) and atmospheres become wider. “Levitation’s” airy, out-of-time solo section is one of the most memorable on the album, and “Alone With You” flaunts the band’s trance influence more than ever before, sampling a murmured conversation between lovers over heavily processed electronic percussion and featuring beautiful vocals courtesy of guest vocalist Roniit Alkayam.

The other half of the band..“Sapphire” and “Chemical Cave” top off the album well, and the latter comes out as an impressive ending through its mix of more somber atmosphere, generally simpler riffing, and punk-influenced drum work. It’s without a doubt one of the album’s best songs, and also, because of its less distorted tones, the song which makes The Flesh Prevails‘constant clipping most obvious.

I was ready for this album to be one of this year’s best death metal releases – Fallujah has the creativity and potential to become a really big name, and their previous output seemed headed in the right direction – but always, I’m a little underwhelmed. The Flesh Prevails certainly has its moments, and it’s by no means a bad record, but ended up just being par for the course. It’s over-the-top, but also over-hyped and grossly over-loud. Some dynamics would do this album wonders, and a less atrociously brickwalled mastering job would help with that while also getting rid of the incessant audible clipping that renders half of this album unlistenable. Despite their unique sound and once again fantastic album art (probably the most unique cover death metal will see all year), Fallujah just hasn’t impressed me. I want to love this album and this band, but it seems I’ve missed the train once again, standing on the platform with fingers in my ears.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 3 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Unique Leader Records
Websites: FallujahOfficial | Facebook.com/Fallujah
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: 07.22.2014

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  • André Snyde Lopes

    ALL ABOARD THE HYPE TRA… DR3? Nope.

    • sssgadget

      They should just give us white noise and be done with it. Save on production and mastering costs.

      • Robert Turnbull

        Potential crushed under a wall of noise…shame

    • The music is actually fucking awesome. I’m listening to it right now and I’m really quite enjoying it.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        I don’t know, I might give it a listen but I would never buy this album simply on principle. It’s like making a sculpture out of feces: you can make the best sculpture ever, but it still smells like crap.

        • Realkman666

          Totally with you. I hope we get to infest the metal world with our zealotry.

    • markus o

      sure! DR3. this album sucks! oh, wait… it hasn’t been released yet, actually…

  • Kevin Dillon

    It’s really DR3? I mean it definitely sounds muddy on my HD650s (at least the album stream the other day did which is at @192) but it didn’t really sound any worse then other things I’ve seen rated at DR6 here.

    • Kronos

      For the most part it doesn’t sound terrible, but it’s loud and there’s just a shitton of very obvious clipping.

    • The track “Sapphire” is a DR2.

      • Kronos

        And that’s at 320 kbps.

        • Guys, remember MP3s boost the DR score. The fact is, this record is probably lower than the score listed above. Skrillex can’t have all the fun it seems.

          • So I haven’t seen the master, but I have now DR’d two masters (from .wav files) and DR’d their mp3s and they’re basically the same. Do you know how much of a difference this is supposed to make?

          • If the master is pushed hard with very little headroom, the MP3 conversion will typically raise the score a point. I think for instance the Satanist is that way (DR5 vs DR6). In reality though, they sound the same. Crappy.

          • RagE

            Think the vinyl edition of The Satainst is around DR 10. Dont know how it sounds tho, cos i still havent gotten around to buying it. (its FAR up on my vinyl want list)

          • tomasjacobi

            I have the vinyl of the Satanist and it’s obviously made from the same master as the other versions. It’s less loud but all the artifacts of the compression are still there. You can’t trust the DR number you get from vinyl rips…

          • Atte Loikkanen

            I have it too. It is indeed pretty hard on the ears, unfortunately.

            The music is really interesting still!

          • tomasjacobi

            Behemoth is a great band and the Satanist is a great album. I’m happy I bought the vinyl. It’s just that it could have sounded better (on all formats) is all…

          • RagE

            You are crushing my dreams man! Why are you crushing my dreams?! Let me believe!

            fuck it, i’ll just apply massive amounts of doublethink. And soma. Delicious soma.

            Next you are gonna tell me the songs sound like shit live too, right? RIGHT?!

  • Yikes!

  • This music on here is way better than a 3/5 imo. These guys are extremely talented. It’s just a fucking shame about the mastering job, but I agree with Dillion. This doesn’t sound much ‘worse’ than a lot of DR6’s I’ve heard. But I haven’t used the cans yet, and am only on my second listen.

    • My setup is a modest ATH-M50’s with a FIIO E5 miniamp and the clipping is very noticeable in the only song available on grooveshark. The obviously triggered battery sounds like a glorified mexican “güiro”.

      • The drum tone is the drum tone, it is what it is.

        But the writing on this record is superb, so it’s a shame that every time they get a clean tone it fuzzes out like some kind of angry bug.

        • It is good music, the track on grooveshark is “Carved on stone” and the guitar work sounds great but everything else detracts from my enjoyment.

          • Yeah, that’s why the hyperbolic reviews about this record kinda drive me nuts. How does one not hear the peaking and the non-existent dynamics?

    • Kronos

      I totally agree. It really deserves higher but I’m probably going to listen to it minimally because it’s so frustrating to go through, so I gave it what I gave it.

    • I posted above about this, but simply reading the “DR” ratings of this compared to other music is an absolutely futile thing to do. Not saying that in defense in any way, I just really hate when people get caught up in a numbers game like “holy shit this thing is -6RMS?!?!”. Material is vitally important to the equation. Listen to a dubstep record(for example skrillex or something). That stuff won’t show up as high on the loudness readings but it will sound almost twice as loud as this album for example. In fact easily the “loudest” master I’ve ever done is one I did for Navene-k “microcosm” and it doesn’t even begin to technically touch the loudness levels of this or other superfast dense death metal records. With material like this with natural drums in a huge room, layers and layers and layers of guitar/synth/bass, there’s no chance you can get stuff nearly as perceived loud without distortion yet it’ll read much much higher.

      • Zack, c’mon now…I mean c’mon…where to even begin…

        How does loud equal dense exactly? They are orthogonal mastering concepts and the fact is, the use of compression on this album is lazy. There are other ways to go about it without destroying the natural dynamics the band created in the studio.

        We all agree with you that the DR score doesn’t tell the whole story, but at DR2/3 it certainly reveals what your top priority was when you mastered it? Hint: It wasn’t fidelity.

        There are plenty of “Superfast dense death metal records” that don’t need this level of compression to sound big. Did Origin need it? How about Gorguts? I think these two bands know a thing or two about technical death metal.

        I’m sorry Zach, but very few engineers I know would agree with you that these masters sound good. They sound compressed – plain and simple.

        Btw Zach, a Skrillex CD for the record, has more dynamics than this one (he hovers around DR4).

        That’s silly on so many levels it’s not even funny…

        EDIT: I would level match the CD master vs the vinyl one for the band. I’d be curious what their ears say too.

        • I think in regards to Skrillex you entirely missed my point. I was saying it WOULD have a more dynamic score, yet sound louder to the ear. I’m actually surprised it’s 4(not 5 or 6). If you don’t understand what I’m saying when I say that more dense material will yield a lower(or higher or whatever you want to call it) DR score I’ll try to make a visual to explain it to you I guess… or find one.

          I think it’s important to remember I recorded, mixed, and mastered this record. So it’s just kind of funny to even imply i ruined the intentions of the dynamics in mastering or anything of that sort. How do you know I didn’t just mix it super shitty in your opinion haha? I mean really? And to call it lazy? I promise there was nothing lazy in the making of this record. If you don’t like it then go ahead and don’t like it, or grab the vinyl. Don’t make assumptions about stuff though. Everything done on this particular record was done with a purpose in mind.

          • Noctus

            You can claim ‘opinions’ all you want but it doesn’t change the fact that the dynamic range this record has is 3 notches away from literally being solid clipping static and there are plenty of huge, heavy and fantastic sounding metal records that don’t even come close to that. How can it be argued that the compression didn’t adversely affect the sound? I mean it’s good that there are several masters of this but one that clocks in at DR3 serves absolutely no purpose. It doesn’t sound better on anything. It sounds undynamic and makes the record all blur into one, plus it severely affects the impact of the drums.

            Denser music yields lower results, yes. We take that into account already – on every other website anything below a DR10 is considered non-dynamic but we praise much lower than that because metal in itself is much denser than most genres of music – DR8 and DR7 are decent scores for metal but not for any other genre. But 3 notches away from literal clipping static noise? Come on, that’s ridiculous.

        • Sorry my first reply here was pre-edit. The band has 1. several masters of the CD including the one that I believe goes on sale tomorrow, 2. the vinyl, 3. the entirely un-loudness enhanced version. They are also pretty good on the audio engineering side and can level match stuff themselves. If you want to ask them go right ahead.

          • Level match it for them. That’s the only way. I’d be surprised if they thought DR2 sounds even remotely better than its high dynamic counterpart.

          • I think you’re missing my point, I DID work with this level matched at pretty much all times with them. Sorry I don’t I was clear about that. Maybe I’ll make a snippet if i get time later to show it turned on and off, and a visual representation to explain what I was saying about the density thing. However I have lots more important things to do tonight so this will have to wait.

          • I’m now concerned that the vinyl master is like DR5 and “uncompressed?”

            My final thoughts:

            You must have SOFT in order to be LOUD. Or another way, when EVERYTHING is loud, NOTHING IS. And that in a nutshell is the problem with this record. The wall of sound production (denseness) is done at the sacrifice of tonality, imaging, treble and bass, etc. – it’s just one gobbly gook of noise in an effort to make the band sound BIG. Mission accomplished.

            Btw, Zach, I highly recommend you check out this plugin:

            http://productionadvice.co.uk/perception/

            I also hope you consider asking the band to think about a higher dynamic alternative (like the vinyl master as a digital download via Bandcamp). That would be very cool to say the least.

          • Wait…do you have the vinyl master somewhere? I doubt it’s DR5.

          • Can we snag that vinyl master for review? We’ve reviewed others and would like to continue to do so.

            Also, we’d all be really stoked if you would do full dynamic range FLACs that you distributed via your website like Dan Swanö has done with Torture Division.

          • I can’t see a reason why not but I can’t just send it to you without the band’s approval. Also the vinyl is the vinyl, which has a few other master adjustments(bass centered more, etc). However the version I made yesterday and sent over to them to send to you if they’d like is just a version that has TWO of the last processes simply removed from the mastering as so it has essentially no master compression/limiting/drive. Hopefully you can get this but I’m not trying to put the band/label in some sort of position here and trust me, you’re not really missing something.

            Also for the record, on the “no loudness” version the DR scores rate from 10 to 11 except Saphire which is a 9. As I said before, Saphire is the most dense song so that makes perfect sense.

            The vinyl is 24-bit not 16-bit master so i don’t think the numbers are really valid for comparison, but both the “SIDE A” and “SIDE B” came out as a DR6. To me this just furthers my point that these numbers while they’re actually based on real stuff, are far from an accurate representation of what is and isn’t “overcompressed”.

            I can find some really great examples of overcompressed/clipped records and a good bit of them would score well above 3. Maybe my favorite recent example of a totally wrecked master would be the horrific Pantera “remaster” of Vulgar Display of Power. If anybody picks that pile of steaming shit over the original they’re out of their fucking mind.

          • If there are more dynamic masters of the CD I want to review them. I really like Fallujah’s style and vision.

            But seriously, when I imported this into iTunes the first time the built in level matching dropped it -13.7 dB in order to level match it. That’s just crazy, crazy loud.

  • This is why I trust AMG. The rest of the internet is just a game of guessing how many synonyms of brutal will they cram in their 10/10 reviews.

  • Kim Sørensen

    Those guys mastering like this… they should rather have a restraining order to not get near any recording studios instead of actually getting paid to ruin albums

    • ha! but I made the album too. In fact I did this all together, so if nothing else this seems like a massive paradox.

  • I feel like I am listening to a Yahoo Music 64k Preview back in the 128K internet days (almost 20 years ago) when modems made so much noise……

    But this is almost insulting, the music is amazing, the record has such great writing and it sounds so incredibly bad “Suena como un baile de cucarachas en una caja de fósforos” (how do I translate that? A Cockroaches dance in a matchbox)
    I hope someone gets a Vinyl and makes it sounds as glorious as it should sound.

  • Excentric_1307

    I really wish I could love this album. I’m skipping it based on the mastering on display with Sapphire.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      I skipped the Inanimate Existence release for the same reason. That said theres definitely enough on show in sapphire for me to be excited about this release. fingers crossed theres a dynamic issue made available for digital release.

  • I’m the guy who mastered this. There were several master versions that went back and forth, including some much louder and much quieter and this is what was settled on. It wasn’t my personal final choice but it’s extremely close(though in fairness my choice was every bit as loud). The mix itself is extraordinarily dense due to their style so clearly just reading DR readings and comparing to typical music is entirely unfair. It also made this challenging with the master for sure. I think it’s important you need to use your ears not eyes judging this stuff(not saying everybody is). That said, it’s certainly loud. I felt that I had it at a point where nothing was being compromised by pushing volume which I always try to. I found this article through a thread on the band’s website It should be noted that the vinyl version is entirely different master already. Additionally, since it seems enough people are for whatever disappointed with the album version I went ahead today and made a much less loud (like -10db RMS less) version that hopefully the band will allow to get out to people who bought this and want it.

    If nothing else I’m glad apparently so many people care. I know tons of people who love my masters and plenty of bands come to me for mastering only projects since I have a reputation of getting stuff sounding loud and full WITHOUT having things sound smashed. So i am never offended by contrary views. If more and more people want less and less loud masters back to 1990s typicaly master dynamics, i’ll fully support it. I also say people have volume knobs. I’ll gladly move in that direction though in the end I always just try to do what’s best for the material itself. Also with people saying they hear distortion on this it definitely makes me a bit concerned that something went actually wrong in the process as the version I have sitting here is certainly loud but not distorted by any means.

    Lastly I think people would(or will if they check the vinyl/quiet master) be surprised that some of what they’re blaming mastering on in this case is artistic decision by the band and myself. There’s very little straight “clean” guitar on the album for example. Most has a decent amount of tube drive that was done on a vintage fender twin reverb. This isn’t a result of master clipping or anything of the sort. Fallujah from day 1 has told me over and over that their stuff is about being absolutely massive. If you don’t like that aspect, you kind of don’t like Fallujah basically.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Listening to the you tube link to sapphire for the first time.
      What a great piece of music and song writing, a contender for song of the year. I’d be interested in hearing both a ‘loud’ and ‘dynamic’ version of this record. Will be interested to hear back what the band/label think of the suggestion.

      • Honestly don’t even think the best songs on this record have been released as singles just yet.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          :)

          • Kim Sørensen

            Fantastic that you replied here in a really constuctive way.. that was one big and nice surprice :)

    • Kronos

      Hey, I’m the author of this post and first off I want to thank you for sharing your side of this story. It’s really cool that you’ve posted here and joined the discussion and I’m happy I haven’t rubbed you the wrong way because I know your goal is to create good sounding albums and I think for the most part you do that really well.
      I think I speak for most of the writers of AMG when I say that we use DR measurements to back up when we don’t like something rather than just measure DR and declare anything low to be terrible. I definitely understand that you’d like the music you work on to be judged by how it sounds, and again, I think you’re good at making the music sound really good.
      I’m really happy to hear that there are other masters of this that hopefully I’ll like a lot better, because I think this album would be really killer if it were less uncomfortable to listen to. I’ll keep an eye out for any news on the subject.
      Finally, I want to get this off of my chest – most of the stuff I get from Unique Leader that you’ve mastered is really a lot louder than there’s a need for it to be. This and the recent Inanimate Existence record were really cool but sounded bland because of how loud they were. The new Omnihility record is also really loud, and I can hear some definite clipping there as well, but because it’s kind of ’90s influenced brutal death that doesn’t kill it for me. There are two common themes between all of these recordings: you mastered them, and they’re all Unique Leader releases. So I wanted to ask if UL or their artists specifically are asking you for really, really loud masters or if you’re pushing the master up a notch because that’s how you think it sounds best. Obviously, I’m not a fan of them being this loud, and a lot of our writers and readers here aren’t either, but I’m sure you’re listening to what you’re mastering on top-shelf equipment so it will definitely sound different to you. Have you gone back and listened to the mp3s of these releases with layperson equipment? I listen to everything I review on a pair of fairly inexpensive but very good-sounding Sennheisers, but even when I’m not using them, I can still hear clipping in Fallujah.
      Once again, thanks for dropping by and discussing this!

      • No problem. Always happy to talk about this stuff.

        In regards to my listening, Fallujah was mixed(and mastered) using mostly the Barefoot Micro Main 27 monitors. I also did some listening on genelec 1031s and KRK VST8s. In the mastering process per usual I listened in several monitors after I was “done” to make sure I liked it. I definitely had a rough time getting something that sounded great in everything with this record but was more or less happy with final results. Listening included my 2001 honda civic car stereo, Shure SE425s, old Shure in-ears I can’t remember the name of, the VXT8s(my home studio monitors), and my Audio Technica ATH-A900X headphones which are probably the monitors I trust most to reveal distortion/overcompression in mixes.

        If anything I think in retrospect I would say the Fallujah is possibly a touch too loud, but only because of the very unique source material. Omnihility is kind of an intentional in your face wall of sound, and frankly I’m still quite happy with the mastering aspect of Inanimate Existence. I saw somebody else(or who knows could have been you) mention IE being slammed to death and I was somewhat shocked. I mean, I have the unmastered and mastered version, and I without question prefer the mastered version of that record. It absolutely needed extra bit of smash that happened in the master and it came out quite huge without distorting in any sort of nasty way.

        To dive further into this though, I feel I should bring up a couple recent projects just to illustrate how things ARE slightly changing in peoples perceptions of these things:

        For one I did the mastering on the newest Chelsea Grin album. I sent them and the engineer 3 versions to choose from. One was on the quiet side, one was a typical “Zack Ohren” level loud, and the last one actually I had added a bit of analog drive to and sounded pretty much over-the-top loud due to the added drive. A day or two later both the engineer and I picked the quieter one because we thought the super-sub bass that’s quiet prevalent on the whole album was getting slightly lost on the louder versions, but the band was absolutely in love with the over-the-top aggressive version and decided to go with it. Mind you, I wouldn’t send it to them in the first place if I thought it was “too loud”, it’s just a matter of taste really in these things. It’s true that the version they picked while it wasn’t quite as gigantic int he low end has a more aggressive ear-pounding sound. So later on I came to agree with the decision.

        On the other hand, I did another mastering project for the band Volumes through the same engineer a few weeks later. This time with a different band, it was an entirely different result. The band picked the quieter version and we ended up sculpting it even further so that nothing at all was “lost” on the final mix. I could easily have been much louder but we choose to keep it basically right below the area where it would start to sound any different. Mind you…this record is still loud as all hell, I’m just arguing that if you “gain matched” it with a version of the master that had gone through no loudness enhancement I’d be very surprised if you preferred the original. It’s honestly considerably louder than the fallujah record but like always comes to source material.

        Point is, things are changing a bit. I’m find a few people like you out there. I’ve yet to have a band that just wants a full on zero compression/limiting/drive master but at this point I won’t be shocked if/when it happens.

        • Kronos

          I suspected Fallujah would be handing you a really, really loud record to begin with, so suspicions confirmed. You’re probably right that I’m just as in contention with Fallujah’s approach to their sound than with the mastering of this album.
          As for the IE record, that was probably me, and to be honest I probably made out the sound to be a lot worse than it was, but that was the first time I really noticed a record being totally loud in a way that really rubbed me the wrong way.
          Would you say, then, that if people like me would prefer more dynamic/less loud/less compressed records, it’s in our best interests to let the bands know? Based on your anecdotes, it seems you’re still producing relatively more dynamic records and they’re being passed over by the bands themselves.

          I’ll have to check out the new Volumes record when it comes out

    • James Ingold

      Thanks for sharing about the “clean” guitar. It definitely explains things a bit. I like quite a bit when a very slight tube drive shows when the player puts a little more uumph into a stroke (my favourite example is Grant Green on Green Street; jazz guitar is often so gutless compared to him) but it was harder to pick up in this case because the slight distortion is present in a way that does sound a bit like clipping. Knowing that at least helps my brain to contextualize it and not perceive it as a mastering issue. I think I will probably enjoy this more now.

    • Thanks for responding to this, Zack. It’s nice to see someone coming in and really engaging us on the topic. I know that a lot of artists and producers read reviews, but very few seem to ever engage. And we’re not trying to be dicks, we’re just fans of music.

      I think it’s a bummer that “a massive sound” has to mean “loud” and not heavy, densely produced, epic and dynamic. Fallujah’s style is great, but I’m not sure what a band that has started playing more and more with dynamics in their music stands to gain by crunching the dynamics down so far. As you are well aware loud is not loud if quiet is not quiet.

      I hope the band makes a more fully dynamic version of the record available for people who want such a thing. I think that’s a good move.

      The next step is to include that dynamic version on the CD so that my pre-order is a dynamic mix as opposed to having to complain about the fact that I’m getting peaking when I try to use my high fidelity equipment.

    • TminusEight

      Hi Zack, just read your posts (thanks). Hope you’ve got time to answer another question… What’s the rationale for a quieter master being used for the vinyl pressing? If the band prefers the loud master, how come that one isn’t used on both formats? Is it a constraint of the medium, or is there a perception that the vinyl audience prefers a more dynamic presentation?
      Thanks again.

      • No problem, this is actually a relatively easy question. It’s because the band DOES want it as loud as possible. In the digital realm 0DB is maximum and is absolute and as a mastering engineer for the CD(.wav) format a part(small) of your job is getting stuff to best use that full range(from -96 to 0DB etc). That’s a simplification but basically people here are complaining that I have crammed too much into the possible dynamic range for the format.

        Now the problem with sending that to the vinyl plant, is they are going to do it AGAIN. Cutting vinyl is nothing like CD audio. It’s very difficult to get the kick/snare cracking through so if I send them CD masters a good bit of “snap” will be lost because of the analog format’s natural compression of it all. It will also frustrate the shit out of the engineer who is trying to re-master it. So I guess what I’m saying is, the vinyl people have a whole separate set of “tricks” to get things loud as possible on their fancy machines. Sending them something loud in the first place will in no way help them get it loud, and will likely result in some muted sounding drums even if it’s a really nice “dynamic” CD master.

        Hopefully my morning brain described that adequately. So basically to answer this simply, yes, it’s the constraint of the medium.

        • ” It’s because the band DOES want it as loud as possible.”

          That’s why we have volume knobs last I checked.

    • Excentric_1307

      I don’t really have any way to communicate with the band, but if a more dynamic version were made available, I would be VERY INTERESTED in buying it.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    All matters of mastering aside, this is one hell of a crunching tune. Can’t wait to hear the purported better tracks not as yet released!

  • Kronos

    Yeah, I can tell that there’s a lot more space on the Volumes song here than anywhere on Fallujah, and the sound isn’t nearly pushed up as high as it was on the Fallujah CD.

  • Okay, even though in some ways I feel like I’m feeding trolls, at least some people here are having a very nice discourse on the subject of master loudness so I want to contribute as I as much as anybody don’t like overcompression in music. I was asked for a gain matched version. You can now download this link if you’d like to check out some examples. Since I’m sure the band wouldn’t like me releasing stuff for free i just took some small segments(mostly loud ones) from the 3 songs they have out already, gain matched, and fairly rapidly switch back and forth. Try listening with your ears once, then load it in any audio editor to see the dramatic difference in waveforms. It should also be kept in mind when making the master the taming of the extra hard snare hits was an intended effect, not just a “lazy” result of the mastering as was at one point implied here. This link will stay live for about 10 days.

    http://we.tl/GdK776dEqs

    Another thing worth noting, the more “loud” or dense a mix is the worse it converts into mp3/aac and other lossy compression. This is full CD quality .wav format which is what the actual CD is obviously.

    I think if a gun was held to my head, I would probably pick the completely uncompressed version for my personal collection, but the insanity of thinking it’s a night and day difference is well on display here. If I were to do it again would I change it? Maybe but probably not by much. Anybody who’s “not buying this album because of the mastering loudness” is pretty much out of their minds in my humble opinion.

    • Having level matches it and done double-blind tests, I can say there is a definite difference between them and that I like the dr10 version better. It’s not “night-and-day” when they’re matched with ReplayGain, but I did hear it 100% of the time and it was immediately clear.But when I did an ABX on OSX it was night and day–because of the obvious clipping. For me, the density of Fallujah is part of their sound–particularly the drums–but the clipping does make the record hard to listen to. I got clipping in my monitors and in my (pretty good but not great) computer speakers. I’m not sure why I would want to pay for audio that is distorted when a more fully dynamic master is available and it sounds so good.

      • Kronos

        No clipping on the dr10? That pushes this album towards a 4.0 if true.

        • DR10 is lossless, I guess the conversion process probably fucked the mp3s.

      • tomasjacobi

        Maybe I’m missing something here (it’s actually very likely) but I don’t understand your mention of level matching and using ReplayGain. The .wav file from Zach is already level matched; in fact I couldn’t hear the difference and had to load the file into Audacity to ascertain which part is the compressed and which is unlimited/less compressed.

        Now that I know from looking that the first 3 seconds are compressed and the next 3 seconds are not I might also be hearing a difference but it’s not much…

        • I was talking about comparing the tracks from different masters, the DR10 master that was provided to me by the band and the DR3 master that we got as mp3s.

          • Sebastian Saier

            Are you talking about the samples or did you actually get the whole album with the DR10 master?

          • I got the whole record with a DR10 master.

          • Sebastian Saier

            So jealous :( So how big is the difference really after listening to the whole album in DR10? What do you think about the production now as you have heard the dynamic version? Are you satisfied with it?

          • tomasjacobi

            Have the band indicated to you whether they intend to allow for us mere mortals to purchase the DR10 version?
            Or is it a requirement to be angry and run a metal blog :-)

          • That’s the band’s call.

    • Kronos

      Thanks for putting this up.
      Your’e very right in saying there’s no night and day difference here. I prefer the sound of the uncompressed parts of this better, but the difference is fairly subtle. What I’d like to hear, or get your opinion on, is the difference between uncompressed and compressed at points where clipping was really prevalent in the mp3s I got. -The first 10 seconds of “Carved From Stone” for instance.

      • Do you hear the clipping on the Youtube “Carved From Stone”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLPHSpHvSUA ? Because I don’t…

        • Kronos

          Yes, It’s still there, although less prevalent because of youtube’s audio compression, which makes clipping less apparent because it’s compressing the entirety of the audio in general. Listen for a bit of crunch around 0:07

      • Guest

        I simply have no idea why you had clipping on the mp3s. I can’t speak to it at all. The CD doesn’t, unless you mean something different by clipping than I do.

        • Kronos

          As Zack said elsewhere, it’s probably due to poor encoding. But that error wouldn’t occur if the music wasn’t already pushed up very high, volume wise.

    • Sebastian Saier

      Really cool, I would love to pay for the “no loudness” version with DR10 :)))

    • The Lascivious Snape

      I downloaded Audacity just to play with this.

      I can “see” the changes, but I swear I can’t hear them. Maybe very, VERY slightly in the 2nd sample. Would the quality of the system or the volume listened at affect this significantly?

      While I trust that AMG, Kronos and anyone with a strong opinion on this subject really do feel something like this can ruin the music … my ears just don’t get it.

      • Sebastian Saier

        In my experience it really depends on the quality of the system/ headphones you are using. I heard a slight difference on my middle class headphones, but on my home stereo system the dynamic version sounded way better. I think especially over the course of the whole album this will make a great difference and will be more comfortable for the ears.

        • markus o

          buy crap speakers, then, and be happy with the music! ;)

          • Sebastian Saier

            Haha I already actually did that. That way I can listen to albums which have a bad and tiring production on low volumes without having to worry about sound quality as it sounds bad anyway xD
            There is nothing better and fascinating than hearing Black Water Park or Dead End Kings on vinyl with wonderful sound though.

          • markus o

            Dead End Kings is easily the best sounding record in ages, IMO. never listened to the vinyl, though.

      • It’s hard to hear all the time. I think the volume difference in the waveforms not being totally audible might have to do with a lot of pre-mastering crunch. You’d definitely hear the difference in a band with different drum sounds, for example.

      • It is very important you level match music otherwise your tests will be all over the place.

      • Celaeno

        Audacity is fantastic!!!

    • I would like to thank you for taking the effort, and for debating from your perspective and obvious pride in your work. It may look like some of the people here is just being belligerent or confrontational for the sake of it, but I can understand as well their frustration with this debate from the consumer point of view. More often than not, the opinions about DR ratings being relevant is dismissed as being just a numbers game and not actually indicative of the quality of the production job.

      Still, as a consumer (that is *AFTER* purchasing the record), more often than not I have found that the records with low DR ratings are the most fatiguing and difficult to enjoy than the ones with a higher DR rating. Records with DR ratings from 5 to 7 as an average are the most inconsistent to evaluate this way, but still, it is more common that these ratings will not be satisfactory to my particular listening experience.

      I don’t even rate the dynamics of any record before hearing in my regular listening conditions. Confirmation bias is a thing I try to avoid in this subject, and I still have to find a record rated DR3 or lower that I enjoyed constantly listening throughout my entire array of setups (laptop, desktop, home theater, home stereo, car stereo, hell, even mobile phone speakers are sometimes tested)

      I have listened to your DR10 samples on a couple of these setups, an I can say that without a doubt they sound better and have way more “life” in them than the other sources. It may be confirmation bias speaking but other than doing what AMG already did that was double-blind testing after level matching I have no way to support this claim *AS A CONSUMER* .To do so I would have to buy not one, but two versions of the same record to support my claim.

      So all this might sound to a non-interested party just like a really snob debate. But as a consumer I really cannot afford to support all your hard work with my money on a DR3 release with all my previous experience on this issue. It may be a lazy decision but there are few to none other ways to support this decision with numbers, be them soft or hard.

      • markus o

        “still have to find a record rated DR3 or lower that I enjoyed constantly listening throughout my entire array of setups”. i don’t know, mate. maybe you’re right. or maybe not. to cite just an example, I find the new Origin to be much more tiring than the new Allegaeon, undynamic as the latter can be… the music is just so much denser and faster that I’ve got to take a breath after 4-5 songs, even if i like the genre and the album.

        • Funnily enough, I had no trouble on hitting play again on the bandcamp stream for the new Origin. Even if it is a really dense and oppressive music. But really, I know that it may come to really particular and personal preference too, but that’s not my point.

          I guess my point may be that there’s no real reason to crush the already low dynamics of your music in the name of a HOLY SHIT IS LOUD mentality and making it close to unlistenable due to really obvious clipping.

          Hell, I don’t even ask for a DR10. A DR7 as Origin made his probably would have given me enough to not complain.

        • Kronos

          I listened to Origin for like 5 hours straight when reviewing it, so this may be more of a style thing, since origin is quite a bit less approachable than Allegaeon.

          • You know K, despite my affinity for the new Allegaeon, honestly, it’s not much better than this record in terms of sounding compressed. It’s pretty bad.

    • I just had a listen using what I suspect is a pretty standard setup for a lot of people: decent-but-not-great earbuds on a laptop. I could not tell the difference blind. Loading into Reaper the waveform difference is clear and if I try really hard I can notice some difference in the drums, but very little. I’ll have to listen again with my better headphones when I get home (alas my best headphones are currently in a different country…). I guess that over the course of a whole album the more compressed version might cause greater listening fatigue perhaps?

      Judging from the comments section here it seems every metalhead has suddenly become a digital audio connoisseur and started listening on high-end systems. I wonder if the people apparently skipping this release because of the mastering previously skipped albums because of the shitty mix, because metal has seen plenty of shitty mixes in the past.

      I would prefer a bit more variety in the dynamics on the songs I’ve heard but it doesn’t sound like that’s a mastering issue…

      • Kronos

        Dynamics I have to say can probably be pinned on Fallujah themselves, although the only person here that could confirm that would be Zack, unless one of the band members shows up. They want to be as loud as possible but apparently don’t favor the dynamic contrast that would allow their music to be perceived as louder when it becomes more intense rather than just be flatly loud.
        At the end of the day, that’s squarely up to them.

        • Indeed. Will reserve judgement till I hear the whole album but I expect my ears getting awfully tired after about the 3rd track…

    • markus o

      “the insanity of thinking it’s a night and day difference is well on display here.(…) Anybody who’s “not buying this album because of the mastering loudness” is pretty much out of their minds in my humble opinion.”
      kudos to you, Zach. i couldn’t have put it better than this. sadly, with this new “anti-brickwall” crusade going on, and the inclusion of the DR meter (that’s ok from a technical point of view, but doesn’t justify any judgement based on barely numerical factors) there’s a very vocal bunch of pseudo-audiophile talibans, that I’d have rather left on the many dedicated hi-fi forums they usually dwell. I still have to listen to this album, so I can’t judge. but at this point we can predict album praising or bashing just by looking at the DR meter, and that’s completely INSANE. this is still my favourite metal blog EVER. please, don’t turn it into a sept.

      • While some writers here are way more focused on audio dynamics than others, the blog itself will never shift into some audiophile fetishist retreat. There are other blogs that do that and we’re way more about the metal itself…and beer. We also like beer.

        • markus o

          beer is metal. DR is not. :)

          • Actually DR is very metal. We give a shit about the quality of metal, not sure what’s more metal than liking metal.

          • markus o

            don’t get me wrong. i’m not saying that metal is all about ignorant chugging and shitty productions and horns up! what i’m saying (apart simply being an ass from time to time) is that dynamics don’t mean good production, and low DR scores (as long as unpleasantly obvious clipping doesn’t occur more than on isolate occasions) don’t mean bad or lazy production. maybe that’s EXACTLY the way the band or the engineer wanted it to sound – and in the specific Fallujah case we can definitely say that this is true. maybe lots of listeners don’t care about hi fidelity, as long as a record sounds good. because hi-fi doesn’t mean that something sounds good. just that it sounds unadulterated (well, sort of). there’s a lot of records that sound stupidly loud and flat, and keep clipping every damn time. a lot of (mostly oldish, or DIY productions, actually) records that sound thin, weak, completely unedited and yet extremely dynamic. and, thanks the heavens, lots of albums that sound just right, albeit fairly high compression rates.
            of course there’s much truth in the criticism you’re moving against music industry. everytime i listen to most CDs with my stereo (a decent set, by the way) i have to keep volume below minimum (or planning to move my house to a remote place), and that’s one of the reasons why i prefer 320k mp3s and my PC. and this is simply idiotic. but has nothing to do with dynamics, just with the db ceiling. they could easily put out DR2 albums with a gain ceiling of -6db, for that.
            i just think that comments like “the satanist sounds crap. period.” from the resident tone “expert” don’t do much good to the cause. try and keep the audiophyle integralism a bit below clipping. ;)

          • I agree with you (despite your personal attacks on me and my sensitive ears).

            No one is saying it is. Not here or on Metal-Fi.

            BUT dynamics are so woefully underrepresented in the metal industry that typically low DR scores means crappier sounding records, especially ones that clip (like this one).

            Also, bare in mind that Death Magnetic was done by a band with practically an unlimited production budget (i.e. Metallica clearly had an industry accepted top notch production team) and it still came out overcompressed and sounding terrible (IMO of course, but many others would agree with me). So clearly dynamic range and the quality of production does not go hand in hand. Dave and I have written many, MANY articles to that effect.

            I do want to address the LAZY comment specifically markus since you seem so pissed at me:

            It is LAZY to compress down to DR2/3 IMO to get that wall of sound production when it can be done while still keeping a modicum of dynamics. But it takes a lot of hard work to do that. Don’t take my word for it, read the interviews for yourself:

            http://www.metal-fi.com/category/articles/interviews-articles/

          • markus o

            as i said before, I’m aware that often I stop being a contrarian and end up being an ass, for no particular reason… :) anyway I care to make very clear that I wasn’t making any personal attack against you, Alex, but just against what I regard as a very integralist view of things… I completely agree with your last statement about lazy overcompressed productions… If anything because that’s exactly what i do to make my shitty home demos sound decent without too much hassle (that’s material i record to show my bandmates riffs and stuff, and when i realized that i could make them sound “glued” and much more badass simply adding a quite obtrusive amount of brickwall limiting, instead of spending hours to fine-mix something that would never see the light as a product, it was a revelation…). I just disagree with the equation “compression = lazy ass production = unlistenable record”, because i think that things are much more complex than that. as Zach said, DR must be related to the starting material. at least IMO there’s music that sounds positively better with compression ratios that would simply kill other stuff, and you can’t say but judging from a careful A/Bing of completely different masters – that’s something you can’t do every time… and even so this is often a mere matter of taste. for example, i simply LOVE how Behemoth’s “the satanist” sounds (DAT BASS, MAN… ;) ). so, does it sound great or crap? i don’t think that such a dilemma can be resolved with a scientific, objective method, or using the same parameters i could use to judge – for example – an Opeth or a Gazpacho album…
            By the way, I listened to Falluja’s “sapphire” and i have to agree with you again… it’s a VERY brilliant song, nothing to say (I love when tech death borders on djent, actually…), but sounds definitely too smashed in a very shallow, loud as hell dynamic range, and loses much of its depth. sad but true.

          • Good man! Now we’re talking… :-)

            For the record (literally), I LOVE the Satanist record. LOVE IT. I think it’s balls to the walls great from front to back.

            But I don’t agree with you about the bass…I think it’s there, it’s certainly more pronounced than prior records, but I do think it gets lost in the shuffle at times. I bring this up because more than likely, TJ probably compressed the living hell out of it just to get it to shine as much as it does, and that’s just goes to prove YOUR point that “compression” != “lazy.” See? It’s all coming together!

            Yet with Fallujah, I feel there is a bit of laziness going on here with respect to the wall of sound they were going for. I truly believe they could have gotten that exact aural density you speak of and still keep a modicum of dynamics so all of our ears could actually perceive it. Obviously, YMMV.

            Note: markus you REALLY MADE me laugh about the whole check your ears comment. I actually DID right after I wrote my review regarding the Satanist in order a buy a new pair of CIEMs. So I could literally tell you, I did man, I did…funny right?

      • Adam

        I think it’s more about raising awareness for the issue than anything else. If the record doesn’t clip, it’s almost okay. Try to listen to some Amorphis straight through without pause, and measure how stressed and aggravated you have become. I can’t even listen to them on cheap equipment, it’s that bad, while I like the music. Point is, while you can just ignore the issue you can’t separate the music from production.
        Granted, I don’t buy albums that sound like crap, but that’s my decision, I don’t suggest anyone to do the same, and I don’t feel bad about it. I’m sure you make such decisions on a daily basis too: pick something that is better produced while leave the crappier stuff in the shop. Just the same.

        • markus o

          i can’t go straight trough a whole Amorphis album, but i think it’s mainly because their recent stuff is musically (more than dynamically) flat, and – though i like individual songs – a whole hour ride in a very homogeneous songwriting is often quite boring. give me “tales from the thousand lakes” every day of the year, instead. but it would have been a killer album even with today’s mastering standards!

      • Alex Najdek

        Guys on the Let’s Talk Metal thread on Head-Fi are already going insane. They haven’t even heard the album yet and they’re going insane. You can’t talk sense to these guys sometimes.

        • How do you know they haven’t even heard the album?

          • Alex Najdek

            Because it hasn’t been released yet and I’m assuming they don’t have review copies.

          • I won’t accuse anyone of anything but folks do listen to leaks. (I remember the conversation about the Origin record and someone mentioned that it leaked but also said that they preordered it on Bandcamp – I too was wondering how they measured it since they had it before me!).

            But even beside that: Despite the fact that I am ALWAYS advocating people to listen to records and not judge them based on a dynamic range score (that is ludicrous), I also believe that if a record measures DR/2/3 and has audible clipping (which this promo certainly does) it kinda gives you a sense of what to expect – especially if you do listen to a lot of dynamic masters (like TRUE vinyl dedicated masters or really well executed digital ones).

            Alex, you should join that group regardless of your opinions about dynamic range and mastering, they are bunch of really nice guys with a wide range of tastes and preferences.

          • Alex Najdek

            I have been active on Head-Fi and I intend to stay that way (username is sludgeogre). They’re an extremely smart group, they’re just also obsessive, as most audiophiles are. I agree the presence of clipping is enough to drive anyone insane, but you can’t judge the release based on the promo, and you especially can’t judge it based on someone else’s opinion of a leak. Pathology released a track lately and I jumped on it just like everyone else did, complaining about how bad it sounded, but it turned out it was a pre-production recording. I think we should give these bands more of a chance before we go crazy on them.

          • markus o

            I remember the same happening, years ago, with a leaked pre-produced Paradise Lost album. the difference was not night and day, but if a band and a producer keep working on something there’s a reason!

          • Sure, I agree markus. But sometimes it’s not a very good one in my opinion. You may disagree but I think that when loudness becomes the focal point of the record above all us, it winds up being a subpar sounding product. YMMV.

          • But keep in mind almost all metal records are smashed in this day an age so I can empathize with some of the “pathological” behavior of these folks who spend LOTs of money on audio equipment and MUSIC and are constantly frustrated with the industry trend of overly compressing the sound.

            But I agree with you 1000%, you have to hear it for yourself, LEVEL MATCH, and make up your own mind. Most of the AMF articles have focused on giving you some technical background on the why and how (compression effects, equal loudness contours, etc. etc.).

            The whole idea is to give you the knowledge so you can make up your own mind rather than be fooled by how our ears behave in certain circumstances.

            Again, high dynamics does not always equal good, and low dynamics does not always equal bad.

            However, a lot of the times because of the way the industry is right now, artists who do try to achieve a modicum of dynamics in their record (let’s say DR8 or higher) or are at least aware of it more often than not deliver a great sounding product.

          • Alex Najdek

            Totally agree with you. I think we also need to take into account the goals of different bands. Many metal musicians that I have known don’t give one damn about dynamics. They just want to lay down crushing riffs and rock out on their ancient, crappy stereo. Obviously, Fallujah aren’t in that camp so the criticisms there are valid, but I think people are starting to get too carried away in their demands from production. Zack said the goal was to have “huge” sound, and whatever that means to all of them is up to them.

            I appreciate the engaging comments from the moderators and the community here. It has been very interesting and has certainly made me start listening to music a little differently, picking up more and more as I go. Of course, a pair of Grados and Audeze LCD-2s certainly helps.

      • Well, I gave the new Vintersorg record which was a DR4 a 4/5 because the music was great even if I disliked the mastering job. I’d’ve given this record a higher score, too. But where I draw the line is audible clipping. This promo clips, that ain’t my fault. Don’t kill the messenger and all that. :P

        I don’t want us to be fundamentalists, but I do think it’s totally OK that we point out that mastering jobs can and should be better and we can get better sounding music for everyone so that you don’t have to use mp3s on your computer to enjoy music.

    • Noctus

      As much as I appreciate the level matching, I could definitely hear the difference between them. Not huge, you’re right, but I find undynamic mixes (DR3 ones especially) fatigue the ear more so I think that if I were to listen to the album from start to finish I would really start to feel it wearing on my ears where I wouldn’t on the DR10 version.

      I would legitimately pay for the DR10 version. Please make that happen, I’d love to throw money at a band doing this so other bands get the idea too.

      Plus, I think it’s pretty irresponsible to put a loud mix on a format that’ll almost certainly be converted to MP3 via the masses and no doubt other digital outlets with the full knowledge that they don’t convert well to MP3.

    • spheric666

      I jump in this quite late because I just managed to buy the cd and listened to it on my a hi-fi system and I was shocked. It’s a fantastic album and I have been loving it, although even with average earbuds and via spotify you can feel a general flatness of sound. When put on a hi-fi system, it becomes unbearable. It totally lacks punch and depth, it’s like listening to music through a closed door, a thick one.
      I am no producer and no expert in the field but I am sort of an audiophile and this is the worst sounding album I have listened to in quite a long time. If it is a conscious choice, it’s criminal.

  • Adam

    This is a very great and important debate, and I never felt that there are trolls here. The fact that some us metalheads might have high-end listening equipment is nothing unheard of I guess (I have one too, very revealing), as -might I say in the name of most of us- we listen to a lot of stuff: classical, jazz, etc. and of course metal.
    As for the sample kindly put up: if you turn up the volume, you can clearly hear the difference, even on a low end system. Might be not night and day on these couple of seconds, but I can guarantee that on the course of the whole album it makes a night and day difference between not being able to listen to the whole album in one session and being able to do so, and enjoy the whole record.

    Of course as stated before me, the decision which master to use is solely up to the band (and record label I guess). This is what we need to respect. In turn, they need to respect our decision not to buy the record if it’s not enjoyable because of the production. I know I do this – I don’t buy albums produced for iPod. My metal consumption has decreased a great bit since I have a high-end system. Although there are a lot of great metal albums, they are unlistenable. This is the truth, and it’s not nitpicking. I choose to go down this path, and I don’t regret it one bit.

    Everyone’s music consumption is different. I try to accept the fact that most bands would like to satisfy the iPod generation. However, I also tend to contact bands I like (if possible) to raise awareness. A very positive experience I had was with Threshold for their last album. They said they would master it more dynamic, and so they did. Although of course not because I kindly asked them, but they did it nevertheless.

    Cheers,
    Adam

  • Grymm

    “Sapphire”, musically, is amazing.

    The actual production, though, -hurts-. And I’m listening to this at a low volume.

    EDIT: I’m basing it on the YouTube video through earbuds.

    • Sebastian Saier

      If the production would sound like on the DR10 samples I would actually be pretty satisfied with it. In this case I could concentrate on just enjoying the incedible music. Of course there are albums with better production but it would be ok for me this way.

      • Grymm

        Right, but this -shouldn’t have to hurt at a low volume-. Like, AT ALL, regardless of YouTubage.

        Yes, it’s musically great, but not if it physically wears you out minutes into it.

        • Sebastian Saier

          That’s why we beg for the DR10 version of the album :)

          • Grymm

            110% agreement here!

  • Chronic-Headache

    I would love to have a truly dynamic mix of this album, and not just on vinyl, but for all platforms (cd, digital, etc…)
    no use selling an inferior version to the masses while offering only the superior one to a select minority.

  • bjorncokestrid

    While there are certainly highlights to this album, I found it laborious to listen to this album as a whole. It’s kind of monotonous as an album. I still enjoy it, but I don’t think i’ll be listening to it front to back.

    • Sebastian Saier

      Well, to each their own, but I don’t think it’s monotonous at all. It’s very diverse and detailed for a death metal record. I feel it’s very addicting.

      • bjorncokestrid

        Indeed, it’s just my opinion. I’m glad you enjoyed it though!

  • OhThisBurningBeard

    I think it’s great that this blog makes such a big deal out of DR and production in general. For me, a bad production job won’t ruin a great album (Bullhead by the Melvins is an example of this – shitty production, great album nonetheless) but it WILL make the difference between giving an album a second listen if I’m unfamiliar with the band, and the songs didn’t blow me away on the first spin (or click).

  • Sebastian Saier

    Just listened to the vinyl. I had high hopes for it sounding good and I really wanted it to sound good. But man this does sound so compressed :( not much better than the other versions I’ve heard. My ears started hurting after the second song. God how can one destroy such beautiful music this badly? I’m just sad right know. Not even about the fact that I spend 60$ on this, but about the fact that we will never be able to hear this masterpiece in the quality it deserves. If we could at least have that DR10 master…that would be a step in the right direction.
    Again, this is not supposed to come off as bashing…it’s just plain and honest disappointment.

  • Muddy

    The Master of Puppets CD is DR12. If it works for Master of Puppets then
    it can work for the rest of metal, nobody needs to crank the
    compression. The last few albums I’ve bought are all DR5 and sound like
    crap. You can hear the compression. Now, maybe they all have other
    problems, and maybe the compression/limiting was all done carelessly,
    but either way they sound like crap vs an older CD cranked up. Of
    course some 80s CD sound bad now because they are tinny and lack the
    warmth and bass of today’s albums. This is a whole other issue. Many 80s
    albums were still being mastered for vinyl and would use the same master
    for CD which is also a problem. Bands should release one super
    compressed poor sounding master for amazon/itunes where folks are more
    likely to buy individual songs, and another good sounding master for the
    CD where you are likely to listen to it all the way through and would
    be willing to crank it up to make up for lack of volume but have the
    increased dynamic range.

    • tomasjacobi

      You had me until you started rambling about the need for bad sounding masters for the mp3 versions of albums. No, no my friend. We need good sounding masters for all versions of albums. Why would you want to sacrifice fidelity for volume just because you’re listening to a single song instead of an album?

  • Clifford Rusk

    UGH, I didn’t even READ the review before I started playing the song at the bottom. I didn’t make it very far. Who the fuck mastered this?

    • Sebastian Saier

      Look further down the comments here. There was a cool conversation with Zack Ohren, the guy who mastered it. It’s interesting and he seems to be a cool dude.

  • Sebastian Saier

    So there won’t be a DR10 version I guess? :(

  • D3Seeker

    I can’t understand it. While the compression has certainly run rampant throughout music production as a whole, how on EARTH can you turn down the possibility of running into music you may actually like just because of poor production. It’s unacceptable as a whole, but I for one am not going to turn down new music just because the guy who mastered the thing decided to have a hayday with all the compression plugins. I do with they would stop this practice though.

    As for the album itself, I won’t lie. It is a bit of a letdown compared to their earlier releases. Though I’m sure parts of it will grow on ge down the line.