Former God Forbid Guitarist Doc Coyle Wonders: Did Pantera Ruin Modern Metal Album Production Forever?
Our old buddy Doc Coyle has written a really interesting new blog for CreativeLive in which he wonders if Pantera had a negative effect on the production of metal music. Despite the fact that he makes it perfectly clear that he himself adores Pantera and that he is “specifically talking about the phenomena of unintended consequences” (e.g., Faith No More didn’t mean to inspire Korn, At the Gates didn’t mean to inspire metalcore, etc.), I suspect some people are gonna lose their shit over.
Which is too bad, because, as usual, Doc makes some really interesting points! For example…
“Dimebag had what I would call a, ‘good-bad’ guitar tone. As a young kid, I thought his guitar tone was the coolest thing ever, and I still think it’s pretty damn amazing. It was only when I was in my first professional studio session in 1999 with uber-producer, Steve Evetts, that from an audiophile standpoint, Dimebag had a ‘bad’ tone. The gain was jacked up to 11, the mid-range was completely scooped out, and the low end was so prominent that it didn’t leave enough room for the bass guitar. Dime also used solid-state amplifiers, which at the time were considered to be inferior to the warmth of the tube sound. While the tone was technically ‘bad,’ Dimebag was amazing enough as a player and innovator to come up with something completely unique. He was good enough to break the sonic rules; it was more important to be distinctive than to follow the old rules.
“The problem was that millions of young kids heard his tone, and did their best to emulate it with limited skills and resources. They didn’t know that Pantera put out 4 albums before Cowboys From Hell, slugging it out in clubs for years as a cover band, and the Abbott brothers grew up with their father being a record producer. Dime spent those years refining, tweaking, and perfecting this sound. Us kids just went out and bought some $200 Crate combo amp woomf-monster with a Boss Metal Zone in front thinking we were sounding like Dimebag, but we were just embarrassing ourselves and annoying local sound engineers and Guitar Center employees.”
Doc’s point, in his own words, is that “what once was a unique and singular sonic vision by a band called Pantera became in many ways, the default sound for Metal.” Which is a valid criticism! One could counter that it became the default sound for a very specific type of metal — I don’t sense that bands like Watain and Cloud Rat, for example, are taking very many cues from Pantera’s production — but one cannot deny that the most “mainstream” metal, or at least the metal which seems to reach the largest possible audience, has fallen into a trap of very same-sounding studio production. Thirty years ago, Metallica and Slayer were peers and part of the same scene, but Master of Puppets and Reign in Blood sound wwwwwaaayyyyy different from one another; you can’t really say the same for Whitechapel and Within the Ruins.
Read all of Doc’s editorial here. And try not to get your panties in a bunch over it, okay?