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Monday, June 27, 2011

Metallica "Enter Sandman" Backing Track

I haven't posted a backing or isolated track for a while so now is a good time. It's the backing track from Metallica's huge hit "Enter Sandman" which has only the bass, drums, vocals and an occasional guitar. The song is from the band's 1991 breakthrough album entitled "Metallica"

According to engineer Randy Staub, the drum track was composed of nearly 50 takes because drummer Lars Ulrich recorded each section of the song separately in order to maintain the intensity. Supposedly a combination of 40 to 50 microphones were used in recording the drums and guitars to simulate the sound of a live concert (that's a bit over the top if you ask me). Producer Bob Rock and Staub then took 10 days to mix the song, which isn't that unusual in that they were trying to create the sonic template for the album.

Here are some things to make note of as you listen:
  • Check out how dynamic the builds are between sections. It's really difficult to do this and maintain a powerful sound, but this song illustrates how it's done.
  • The snare reverb is on the long side but it's timed to the track. Notice how it fades out just about the time of the next snare hit.
  • There's a lot of verb on the vocal but it's somewhat short so it never gets in the way of the cadence of the lyrics.
  • Listen to how perfectly in the pocket the lead vocal is. It fits exactly with the bass and drums so the track sounds extremely tight.
  • The guitars that do creep into the mix are used to augment the power of the other existing guitars. Note where they are and then go listen to the full mix and see how much they enhance the song where they enter.

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1 comment:

Seb said...

Thanks a lot for this post.

This album has always been to me one of the top metal production ever. I'm very glad to see it honored on this brilliant blog.

The DVD-A version of this album was insane sonically speaking.

But even a YouTube clip like this does justice to the tremendous power of the mix.

Without the main guitars, we can FEEL the awesome work on the rythm tracks. I don't really like Lars a drummer (it seems he can't play outside the Metallica framework), but in Metallica he's just shining, he hits every note exactly as the song needs it.

This backing track also finally shed some light on the bass work. The bass in this album has always been somehow low in the mix, but we also understand that the bass sound is so dry that it is easily burried by the fat guitars. Too bad for Jason Newsted as he does a really fine job too, and he's been a very underestimated player mainly because of this mix...


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