Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows Blames Rock’s ‘Downfall’ on ‘Pop’ Production
Avenged Sevenfold lead vocalist M. Shadows — the rock singer presumably deep in the final stages of completing his metal band's expected eighth studio album — recently opined that "pop" production has contributed to the "downfall of rock and metal."
The musician said in a tweet Wednesday (July 13), "Hot take: Sampled drums and the 'loudness war' have been the largest contributors to the downfall of rock and metal. The listener does not need to know exactly what that is to subconsciously feel it. Rock should not have 'pop' production." (See it below.)
After stating his case, Shadows engaged in the subsequent comments from his Twitter followers. Avenged Sevenfold fans who follow him know the group's been working on a new LP, the follow-up to 2016's The Stage, for the last several years. Shadows previously said it should come out later this year or early next.
M. Shadows vs. the Loudness Wars
Was the musician in the mastering studio putting the final touches on the effort as he wrote the tweet? That may explain a feeling of exhaustion with the "loudness wars," the trend of increasing audio levels in recorded music to be perceived by the ear as louder. Unfortunately, the method can also decrease the fidelity.
Drum sampling is the digital method of copying and pasting previously recorded drum hits over a live drummer's actual playing in the studio to achieve better consistency.
But are these and other modern recording techniques really harming rock and metal? Looking back, the sonic tug of war with loudness has been going on since the early days of recorded music.
Some History on the Loudness Wars
"The 'loudness wars' have gone back to the days of [vinyl single] 45s," veteran mastering engineer Bob Ludwig told NPR in 2009. "When I first got into the business and was doing a lot of vinyl disc cutting, one producer after another just wanted to have his 45 sound louder than the next guy's."
That way, "when the program director at the Top 40 radio station was going through his stack of 45s to decide which two or three he was going to add that week," Ludwig added, "that the record would kind of jump out to the program director, aurally at least."
However, Shadows doesn't seem explicitly against pop production by its own merits. "A perfect example of a 'pop' record being produced and mastered brilliantly is Daft Punk Random Access Memories," the singer added in follow-up tweet.
Still, the Avenged Sevenfold lead singer stood his ground on his idea overall. "If the drums have been replaced w samples and you cant hear the room… and the levels on the master have been pushed to squeeze out all dynamics… those records are fucked," he later replied. Shadows also lamented how the approach "somehow became the standard."
The Avenged Sevenfold singer has plenty of other outspoken outlooks on rock and metal music. In just the last several months, he has remarked on streaming services' place in the music industry, how Kanye West influenced Avenged Sevenfold's new music and which Guns N' Roses album deserves more credit.