Music Dorkery

Isolated Bass Tracks Help Us Further Ponder the Question: “Do Bassists Matter?”

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Reader Paul Z. recently sent us the following e-mail:

“I recently read a review of Cannibal Corpse’s new album, A Skeletal Domain, and they made a point of saying how Alex Webster’s bass playing is as great as always and is AUDIBLE IN THE MIX. This is not the first time I’ve heard this in a review and it reminds me how I have a very difficult time hearing the bass in the majority of the bands I listen to. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. So I wonder… just how important is the bass guitar? I mean, if you can’t hear it in the recording, why not just have two guitarists and ditch the bassist? OR, maybe I do hear it and am simply not aware of it. To stick with the theme of all of the isolated vocal and drum tracks I’ve seen posted lately, would it be possible for you guys to post recordings of songs both with and without the bass track? To highlight the importance of, or lack there of, the instrument?”

This is, of course, a question almost as old as metal itself. Truth be told, I don’t think the presence of any one instrument is “necessary” to make a metal band good… I mean, at this point, there have been great bands without bassists, great bands without drummers, and even great bands without guitarists (vocalists and keyboardists and tambourine players have always been optional). For whatever reason, though, it definitely is bassists who get the least amount of respect, and seem to be considered “the least important” member of almost any given band. I mean, there have been really prominent bands whose bassists were so bad they couldn’t record their parts in the studio and had to be kept way low in the mix during performances. But I do think if you’re gonna have someone in your band, that person should know how to play his or her given instrument.

And so I went on YouTube and dug up some isolated bass tracks of note. I’ll leave it you folks to listen and decide how important bassists may or may not be. Hit it:

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