Metallica producer Greg Fidelman – the right man for the job?

Kirk Hammett let it slip in a recent interview that Greg Fidelman will produce the follow up to 2008’s Death Magnetic.

Up until this point it’d been assumed that so far into the writing and demoing process the band would self-produce with an engineer … and that’s kind of what’s happening.

You see Fidelman and Metallica have history, he worked as engineer on Death Magnetic under the “guidance” of Rick Rubin, he produced, engineered and mixed the band’s contribution to the Ronnie James Dio tribute record and the “Through The Never” soundtrack and co-produced and mixed Lulu – so these guys know and trust one another.

The question for a lot of fans will be can he be trusted with a new original record? The answer, I think, is definitively yes.

Fidelman has a rock/metal background and played guitar in AC/DC sound alike Rhino Bucket through til the mid 90’s before embarking on his current career path. He cut his teeth as an engineer working on albums by Marilyn Manson (Holy Wood), System of a Down (self-titled), Slipknot (Subliminal Verses) and Red Hot Chili Peppers (Californication) amongst others before taking the plunge and producing American Head Charge’s 2004 album The Feeding.

His producing career from there has been on the up and up and he’s garnered some pretty heavyweight fans along the way. Notoriously hard to please Slayer guitarist/songwriter Kerry King said on working with Fidelman on “World Painted Blood” – “Greg is great at what he does, and he’s there more to help us make sure we explore all of the possibilities. He’ll see that all of our ideas get tried out for the songs. Greg sometimes is like the fifth member of Slayer when it comes to that. He also has great ideas, like on [the song] ‘Americon’. He had an idea to throw in an octave in one section, and it really filled out the track. That’s why it’s good to have an extra person in there we trust.”

When I interviewed King’s then bandmate, Dave Lombardo on the World Painted Blood tour he was equally effusive about working with Fidelman saying “he really stepped up, did an amazing job and captured the band for what it was … he would show up at rehearsal’s and record us and demo the songs up, he really worked hard and you can tell ‘cause he captured our sound in its raw form”.

Greg Fidelman sounds like exactly what Metallica need, a hands on producer willing to get his hands dirty and ask difficult questions when they need to be asked and he has fresh ears, which will be important to make sure that Lars snare sounds right this time around.