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In metal, does the bass matter?

I guess it depends. It does here.

5 Responses to “In metal, does the bass matter?”

  1. MrSatyre Says:

    If a recording is engineered, mixed and mastered according to the wishes of the band and the lead engineer, the question is almost moot. Almost, because I have a hard time believing that ANY band would employ a basist—no matter how mundane—that they didn’t feel added the necessary sustaining foundation to the rest of the instruments being played. That being said, obviously there are profound differences in talent AND reliance of and in the many bass players out there. I, for example, have a very difficult time remembering who played bass for Judas Priest, because they were never particularly exciting, whereas Steve Harris of Iron Maiden is ALWAYS playing right there, note for note with Dave or Adrian. But in the case of either band, removing the bass track dramatically changes the dynamics and messages of their music.

  2. ThomasD Says:

    You could ask a similar question of blues and transitional rock and roll artists like Jimi Hendrix. Sometimes the bass was just along for the ride, but other times it was absolutely essential.

    One of the reasons we are having this discussion is the general trend of metal to seek the most visceral dynamic sound and rhythm, with guitar often dropping into the sonic territory otherwise filled by bass. When you have two guitarists playing in drop C the bass can easily become redundant or largely inaudible because it is at the low range of human hearing.

  3. HSR47 Says:

    ThomasD makes a valid point….

    *There are also a number of other factors that contribute; In no specific order:

    *A lot of music these days is engineered to make it seem “louder.”

    *The headphone market is dominated by cheap garbage that doesn’t really do that great a job.

    Most of the digital audio players are not really designed to handle lossless audio formats, and instead rely on lossy formats like MP3.

    Really, it’s a cascade of failures on all ends of the music spectrum.

  4. Sigivald Says:

    There’s a hell of a lot of metal where I literally can’t tell there’s a bass player.

    It’s common enough that it’s a running joke – in Metalocalypse, they claim to have mixed Murderface’s bass pretty much out of every song.

    (Contra HSR, though, I’d note that it’s 2014, and a modern high-rate MP3 or AAC is going to be indistinguishable from lossless in ABX testing to any actual human being.)

  5. Lyle Says:

    Oh. I though this was going to be about alloys.