Tracking timbral changes in metal productions from 1990 to 2013 | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2052-3998
  • E-ISSN: 2052-4005



The metal scene has undergone an evolution in sonic characteristics that is partially rooted in music technology developments and associated production techniques that have given rise to a set of identifiably distinct ‘metal’ timbres. The science of psychoacoustics provides a measurable way of assessing these perceptual changes. This article proposes a methodology for psychoacoustic analysis in order to track the evolution of metal-specific timbres, and to speculate on the development of, and applications for, timbral metering in metal production. Sampling, synthesis and digital editing techniques have given rise to entirely new genres of music, yet metal as a genre has remained ostensibly with much the same musical format. Nevertheless, the sonic fingerprint of modern metal production often bears the hallmark of these computer-aided developments. In particular, the metal audience is now, consciously or not, used to the sound of triggered drum samples and sound replacement, ‘re-amping’ guitar and bass signals, and the restricted dynamic range of the ‘loudness war’. As a genre that is known for taking joy in all things loud, both anecdotally and in academic research, the issue of manipulating dynamic range compression in order to increase perceptual loudness in modern music production is perhaps even more pertinent to the metal genre than in other popular music forms.


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