FORGET THE CHILDREN, PRAY FOR THE PRODUCERS
Scott Burns is a legend in metal history- and a cautionary tale. A staple at Florida’s Morrisound Studios in Florida in the 80s and early 90s, Burns became the go-to guy for death metal and grindcore, producing landmark releases for Deicide, Death, Obituary, Sepultura, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Napalm Death, Malevolent Creation… the list goes on and on and on and on. But as time went on, there were suddenly various hiccups in the formula- bands signed to major labels, were dropped from major labels, broke-up, reunited, branched out, nu-metal came in and made dudes like Ross Robinson the hot new producer on the scene, and so on and so forth- and Burns found himself very suddenly a) out of fashion within the metal world and b) unable to get any jobs outside the metal world. The inevitable end result: he’s worked since, but not on any albums anyone really seems to care about.
I think of Burns a lot these days, and the reason I do so is this: I wonder what will happen when guys like Adam Dutkiewicz and Jason Suecof (pictured above)- guys who seem to produce every third metal album released these days- inevitably fall out of fashion on the metal scene.
I’m not gonna lie: when I hear these dudes are producing an album, I become instantly curious to hear that album; and when I hear that one of them is working with a band I really admire (Chimaira, DevilDriver, etc.), I get really, really excited. And the truth of the matter is, there’s only so much even a great producer can do with the raw materials they’re given; if you’re generally not impressed by Cannae or The Red Chord (as I myself am not), then the masterful production Suecof and Adam D. (respectively) provide ain’t gonna do much to help you. And really great (or at least very successful) producers like Bob Rock, Terry Date and Rick Rubin are clearly going to work from now until they day they decide to call it quits; Rubin, for example, may be very much in vogue right now for having legendarily been at the helm of Slayer’s Reign in Blood, but his vast body of work in the twenty years since with a diverse range of artists has proved that he’s no fluke and probably doesn’t have to worry about what will happen when, say, Slipknot decide they don’t want to work with him anymore.
But it’s a different story with Suecof and, especially, I would argue, Adam D.- because, at least so far, they work exclusively in the realm of metal. Suecof, at least, has a somewhat diverse range of acts he’s been working with (which would seem to place him more in the mold of Date, Andy Sneap, Colin Richardson, and James Murphy, all guys who exclusively produce metal and hard rock and have survived as various trends have come and gone), but Adam D. has become so heavily associated with one sound- the same way Ross Robinson is so heavily associated with nu-metal- that it’s getting kind of hard to imagine whose records he’ll produce when the whole metalcore trend finally goes away- except for his own band Killswitch Engage, of course, who pretty much started the trend to begin with. But if As Daylight Dies is any indication, even they could benefit from some fresh blood in the mix. As a matter of fact, it isn’t difficult to imagine Dutkiewicz being the unfair scape goat when the metalcore backlash that has already begun takes a firmer grip on the metal community (someday, I hope, people will smarten up and realize that most trendsetters never imagined the crap that would follow in their wake- KsE never meant for Bleeding Through to get so big anymore than Kurt Cobain wished Gavin Rossdale upon the world).
My advice to these guys: i) branch out a little and ii) start being way more selective about who you do and don’t work with. Adam, you don’t have to produce every record for every dude you went to high school with, and Jason, just because they can afford the plane fare to Florida doesn’t mean you have to produce the disc. Remember your fellow Floridian Scott Burns, and learn from his mistakes.