With no official word from the band, many who disliked the excessive compression and distortion of the CD release had simply chosen to listen to the much cleaner and more dynamic mix from the PS3 "Guitar Hero" game instead. On the Metallicabb.com forums where much of the debate has been conducted between fans over the last few weeks, things seemed to have started to calm down again.
However Lars' comments have lit a blue touch-paper, and suddenly the dissatisfaction has exploded again with renewed vigour. The forum is swamped by threads, bitterly arguing about Lars' apparent disregard for the opinions of loyal fans. It's true that Metallica has picked up it's fair share of "haters" over the years - people who are determined to criticise whatever the band do - but the vast majority of people complaining about the sound have always made it clear they love the new material, and only have a problem with Rick Rubin's punishing, fatiguing production style. Lars' dismissal of the 12,000+ signatures on the petition to have the album remixed as "a few people" was greeted with incredulity and scorn by most, along with his assertion that it sounds "smokin'" in his car.
One group of fans, dismayed by what they have learnt about the so-called Loudness Wars since the release of Death Magnetic, have already set up a new site to try and stop the Loudness "arms race" - JusticeForAudio.org is still in it's early stages but already features an impressive level of activity.
Since the Blender.com article, a new focus of protest has also developed - a co-ordinated return of CDs to Metallica's offices on October 17th. Initially suggested on the Metallicabb.com forums, the plan has been given focus by a blog post by user mikemelancholic, and seems to be gaining considerable support amongst unhappy fans, judging by the replies on the forums.
It remains to be seen how many copies will eventually be returned, but if the organisers achieve their goal it could have considerable impact - if there's one thing that makes record companies sit up and take notice, it's returns.
Meanwhile views of the YouTube video offering a comparison between the CD and Guitar Hero mixes actually seem to have increased since Lars' comments rather than decreasing as he must have hoped, and leapt up to over 175,000 this evening, with signatures to the petition seemingly unaffected and steadily growing by about 1000 a day.
It seems this battle in the Loudness War isn't over just yet.