Metallica's 'Justice' Engineer: I Want to Remix That Album!

"The theology in the room between Lars and James was that if you can hear the bass it's 2dB too loud."

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Metallica's 'Justice' Engineer: I Want to Remix That Album!

Toby Wright, one of the engineers who worked on Metallica's "...And Justice for All," said he'd be very interested in remixing the record for a possible deluxe reissue, saying on Talk Toomey (via The PRP):

"Here's the real story: the bass was recorded by me and Jason Newsted, in all of its glory.

"At the time, the theology in the room between Lars and James was that if you can hear the bass it's 2dB too loud.

"So when it moved over to Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero mixing it, they brought that same theology with them.

"No matter how hard Steve and Michael tried to fight them on that’s not right, that's not right, they still insisted that's what they wanted so that's what the world got."

Toby added:

"I'd like to remake it and I'll show you exactly what was laid down on tape and then the world will be stunned, I think.

"Keep in mind I would love to re-mix it, Lars. If you are hearing me, I would love to remix it. I think it would be a bit more powerful. Fill out some of that tonality that's missing from it.

"If you listen to the 'Black Album,' which was done a year-and-half, two years later under Bob Rock, that's a full band.

"I don't know if anybody fought him on all that kind of stuff, because I wasn't in the room, but you never know. And it turned out how it turned out and 20 million records later. There was some success there."

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37 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Had it not been for the poor mixing, this could've held title of the definitive Metallica album. 
    It always will be for me. I love the way it sounds. And all of those bass remixes online are garbo.
    It 100% is their high water mark, the way it's mixes makes it sound brutal, like a sun-scorched saw blade.
    I guess it's just me and only me, I personally loved the sound of this album the way it is. Sounds in some ways almost like a black metal album with the way the guitar is.
    I like the album how it is. I like that "dry" sound the album has and Kirk said that's what they were going for and that James' and Jason's tone kept interfering with each other. It's not for everyone but it makes the album unique and it stands out, whether it's for the right reasons or the wrong reasons is totally subjective. Metallica have never been big on remixing things because, as James stated, " …And Justice for All could use a little more low end and St. Anger could use a little less tin snare drum, but those things are what make those records part of our history.” and to change a part of your history to appease a select group of people just doesn't seem right.
    I like the album and think it sounds good, but that "James' and Jason's tones kept interfering" is just a bullshit excuse. It's a pretty basic concept in mixing, give each instrument their own space in the frequency spectrum. Just remove some bass from James' guitar and bring up the real bass, simple as that.
    I want more bass, or deep end in general for that matter. The album's mix is one of the worst I've heard.
    Weybl Himself
    I don't see the point in remixing it after all of these years. The band themselves have said on numerous occasions that the sound that AJFA has is exactly what they wanted. Dry, clinical and aggressive. If you remove that then you remove a big part of the charm of that album I reckon. Even Jason has gone on record to say that the way it sounded is how it was supposed to sound and it shouldn't be fucked with. I say we just enjoy it for what it is and get over the whole thing.
    Way Cool JR.
    I finally picked up a another new (CD) copy of AJFA after loosing my old one (maybe stolen?) years ago. I have to say after not hearing it for awhile that it is one of the best sounding/produced metal albums ever recorded.   The guitars and vocals just rip through your face and sound so great and the drums just straight up kick you in the balls.  It's a fantastic sounding album how it is and doesn't need anything changed. Just as long as you keep the original version, knock yourselves out recording a new one, but I have a really hard time believing you can top it.  
    I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion but i'm sorry I have to massively disagree with everything you just said. Bass is an instrument, it should be heard, or at least felt in a mix. The drums aren't even worth mentioning, it doesn't even sound like a drum kit to me. Id love to hear this mixed by an actual sound engineer and not half a band who cant accept a new bassist who is laying down awesome stuff. Personally I think anyone with a normal set of ears could top it.   
    I have to agree with you, AJFA is by far the worst sounding metallica album, even if you count Death Magnetic. I would love it if someone remixed it.
    It's not though. The sound of that album is very pleasing to the ear, even if the bass isn't heard. It's abit stale, but honestly it sounds great. Especially DM and St. Anger sound far worse, and I do prefer AJFA even over Kill Em All and Ride the Lightning. KEA and RTL just somehow get away with sounding like crap because they are classic albums with the original lineup which is bullshit to me. They are great musically, but they do not sound good.
    Kill 'Em All sounds pretty bad, but Ride The Lightning? No, it sounds a lot better than AJFA. As far as compositions go, I prefer AJFA but Ride's production is much, much better. Better than Master of Puppets even, in my opinion. 
    To me RTL still has that kinda 'metallic' sound to it which a lot of the 80's thrash had. It has far less of that bad sound than some other bands (I can barely listen to old testament even if I love the songs), but it's still bad.
    Way Cool JR.
    You must be listening to it on a shitty system or something.  I agree about the bass guitar should be heard but the total lack of bass guitar and the album still being as fantastic as it is, is a testament to its greatness.    
    this album takes me back to a time and place that i can only reach by listening to it the time is in the past the place has turned to shit but the album holds the memories dont try and fuck that up for me its all i got some days
    I don't care if they remix it, but they should preserve (not replace) the original. I would purchase a deluxe set that had the original and remixed versions. It's kind of like the Star Wars special editions. I didn't care if Lucas wanted to add new crap to the movies, but give me the opportunity to enjoy the originals. Unlike Star Wars, I think most people would agree the AJFA mix is flawed and should be updated. However, the original is part of music history and the art should be preserved.
    I'd like to hear it with bass but even now the bass is barely audible
    I've said it before, i really enjoy AJFA because of what it is and how it sounds, why would i want it changed?
    People come at this subject from different angles - engineers and audiophiles see it as a flawed record from a technical perspective. Some fans see it as the legend of Hetfield and Ulrich hazing Newsted. There is bass, just not from a bass guitar. The bass drums are simultaneously heavy and clicky, the guitars have a razor edge and have that post speaker "WOOF" from chocked off chords. It's very much imperfect, but the sound suits the music and the mood well. 
    The album is one of a kind, maybe it has no audible bass sound, but, thats the escense of the album. I can´t imagine how it will sound with audible bass sound. Maybe it will not be the same, some will dig it, some will not. 
    I am for both. Keep it like it is but do make a remix if it can work just as well on a sonic level. Kind of what Deep Purple did so you got the 2 versions. The established piece of art that the Justice album do represent and the pro remix like the mix engineers want it so the fans have the option of what they like but being Metallica they buy all anyway. It is kind of sad that the Megadeth remix or 2004 versions compared don't always do the job making it better just different so you have to find the originals to find what you like the best. Loud drums and loud rhytm guitars! That's it and does with audiophile ears early Metallica pre Bob Rock can be something to get used to. For does seeking the guitar tone you will need an old Mesa/Boogie mk2 c+ or Quad pre amp/Triaxis, MkIII or MKIV. Nothing else comes close and BOSS effects are the cheap crap way. The actual settings are public so you can fine tune from there.
    Do you remember when UG posted an article saying that they wouldn't publish multiple articles on the same interview
    Isn't this like the 10th article on UG about this? Didn't you just post user feedback which pointed out that these repeat articles are tiresome? 
    I'd love to hear it remixed with bass, and for those that don't, here's an idea: simply don't listen to it.
    Are these guys just trying to stay in the news by talking about the same thing over and over?
    Justice sounds heavenly compared to the neutered sound of "Metallica".