Ah yes, the nearly 30-year-old question of “what the fuck happened to all the bass on Metallica‘s …And Justice For All?” Back in 2015, drummer Lars Ulrich took the blame for turning Jason Newsted’s bass tracks all the way down, and even James Hetfield admits that the album could use some, or any, low end.
Now Flemming Rasmussen, the producer for Metallica’s first four albums, tells Alphabetallica that the mix wasn’t his fault. Rasmussen says there was an initial mix of the album with tons of bass on it, but once he got the final mixes, all the bass had been sucked out. He also praises Newsted’s playing, essentially saying everyone needs to hear it.
“What happened was [mixing engineers Steve Thompson and Mike Barbiero] did a mix that they thought sounded really, really good, which had lots of bass in it.
“And the bass – let me just point out – the bass tracks on ‘…And Justice for All’ are actually fantastic. Jason plays really well. He probably tried to prove that he was worth, that he was up there with Cliff, which in my opinion he is.
“It’s a different style, but he is as good of bass player as Cliff, just in a different way. And I’ve heard the bass tracks and they were actually amazing. They sound good, he plays well. But, they heard the mix and they went, ‘Alright, take the bass down, change this this this and this, and then take the bass down.’ So you can barely hear it. And then once they’ve done that they said, ‘Take it another 3dB down.’
“Why they did that – I have no idea! It could be that they were still grieving about Cliff. I have no idea. But imagine my surprise when I heard the album. I was like, ‘What the… What?!’ It got really criticized when it came out, and people got more or less blown away because of the dryness of the sound. It just goes BANG, right in your face.
“‘…And Justice for All’ was probably the single album in the last 30 years which has been the most influential in terms of sound for the whole generation of the hardcore metal bands. They all wanted to sound like ‘…And Justice for All.’ That really clicky, high-endy bass drum, all that stuff…
“Every time I hear the bass drum like that, I go ‘I’m really sorry about that. That’s my mistake.’ Well, I didn’t mix it!”
Metallica is releasing its remastered version of Master Of Puppets this year (or early 2018), meaning it’ll finally be time to fix …And Justice For All!
via Metal Injection