Metallica Mixer says Ulrich’s drums sounded “like A **” on “AJFA”

Production on Metallica’s 1988 album … and justice for all is more than notorious. There’s the whole ordeal of Jason Newsted’s lack of bass that has continually fueled the anger of fans (and even Newsted) for over three decades and it continues and, in a new interview, mixer Steve Thompson touched on a cooler angle, ie he felt like Lars Ulrich’s drums sounded “ass”.

It’s hard to imagine a more popular album that has been the source of such widespread criticism as … and justice for all, but these are things that metalheads can not help clinging to without ever daring to loosen their grip on the collective groans.

Monitoring of Puppeteer and Metallica’s debut album starring Cliff Burton’s successor Jason Newsted challenged fans in a number of ways, from its highly ambitious writing to squeaky, metallic production values.

Loudwire spoke with Thompson, who was a co-mixer on the project, in 2017 about those production values, and he recalled having disagreements with Ulrich over the sound of the drums, among other things. The “official story” regarding the lack of bass fluctuates constantly with lots of fingerings going around and, while speaking with Dean Cramer, Thompson again recalled the dispute over the sound of the drums.

“We did the project in Bearsville, New York – we worked on an SSL [console] in the studios of Bearsville. And Lars originally arrived with a full EQ setup chart showing how he wanted his drums to sound. So Michael Barbiero, my partner, said to me: ‘Why don’t you work with Lars and buy the drums? [sounding the way he wants them to sound], and once you’ve done that, I’ll take care of the rest. ‘ So he does that. And I listened to the sounds, and I said, ‘Are you kidding me? I think it looks like ass, ”Thompson began (transcribed via Blabbermouth).

“So anyway,” he continued, “I kind of re-equalized all the drums just to make them a little more palpable – it’s in the viewer’s ear. Then j upped the bass, what I thought was the bass was a big part because… you know what was great about [Newsted’s] low? It was a great marriage with [James] Hetfield’s guitars; it was like they needed to work together. It was perfectly played. “

Thompson again told the story he’s been stuck in for years now and explained, “So I put the whole rhythm section together, vocals and everything, and then I thought, ‘Okay, it is time. Hetfield was in there, [giving] thumbs up and everything like that. Then I brought in Lars. First, Lars hears it for about five to ten seconds, and he says, “Alright, stop there. He said, “What happened to my drum sound? Basically, I probably said something like, “Were you serious? ” [Laughs] So I had to rearrange the sound of the drums to get it where he wanted it again. He said, ‘Okay, do you see the bass?’ I’m going, ‘Yeah.’ “Drop it into the mix. I said, ‘Why? It’s good.’ “Drop it into the mix. ” ‘Okay.’ So I did it as a joke. [I] dropped it all the way down. He said, “Drop another five or six dB” from there, who could barely hear it – you couldn’t hear it. I said, ‘Seriously?’ And I think I turned to Hetfield, and he just went like that [raises both hands]. “

Although he understood that he had been hired to execute the vision of Metallica, Thompson still found it difficult to come to terms with what he was asked to do.

“And then I remember having a conversation with Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch running them,” he continued, “And I basically had a conversation, I said,“ Look, I love these guys. . I don’t agree with what they want me to do with this. And I understand, this is their record. They should get what they want. We were hired to get them what they want. But I don’t see how to do that. ‘ And we ended up giving them what they want. Again, this is not my record – it’s their record – and you have to respect their opinion. Personally, I hated it, because I’m a bass guy. I like the bass. When we are recording, we are recording the biggest bass in the world. “

In the end, Ulrich won, which left Newsted “fucking livid” when he heard the recording of the album. But he also understood that there was no room for maneuver when it came to internal decision-making at Metallica. You, and, of course, millions more, Jason …

However, with no less than 20 million streams on Spotify for any of the … AJFA pieces, the modest production does not exactly deter listeners who say they are outraged.

Steve Thompson talks about Metallica with Dean Cramer

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