Contemporary Approaches to Metal Music Mixing and Production: Heavy Metal, Death Metal, and Metalcore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


With a focus on traditional heavy metal, death metal, and metalcore, this chapter examines contemporary metal music production and explores overarching concepts and approaches specific to individual subgenres or producers. Guided by mixing walkthrough videos from the educational provider “Nail the Mix,” three productions per subgenre are analyzed. The analysis demonstrates how producers take typical metal features such as heaviness, hyperreal precision, and perceived brutality and aggression, and blend these qualities with additional sonic attributes, including atmosphere, excitement, and groove. The findings suggest that contemporary productions achieve maximum impact through hyperreal elements – inhumanly-precise performances, with larger-than-life drum sounds and particularly dense walls of guitars – but carefully balance these with natural elements that preserve the performers’ authenticity and human qualities, which aid the listener’s ability to ‘connect’ with the music. The wealth of aesthetic and technical considerations, discussions, and decisions that have led to the result heard on the final record tends to be of no great concern to the casual or non-technical listener. Nevertheless, all listeners benefit from the high standard common and expected in contemporary metal music production.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Metal Music Composition
EditorsLori Burns, Ciro Scotto
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Sep 2023


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