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I have a hard time trying to figure out the exact meaning of that phrase. Here's the context:

"I saw [the warts-and-all METALLICA documentary 'Some Kind of Monster'], and it made me really nervous," Rubin said. "Then we started working, and it's the opposite direction of that. They're really productive, really communicative — it seems like they really like being in the room together. It's a great process. They say they're more excited than they have been in a long time about making music. We're going to start recording in March. I asked them not to reinvent themselves so much as to make a defining album, like the purest of what METALLICA is. That's the aim, so we'll see what happens."
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Hello ICU

This is the structure:

1. I asked them not so much to do X, as to do Y.

Here it is visually:

Asking them to do X: ----------------------

Asking them to do Y: ------------------------------------------

X is not so much as Y: therefore I asked them to do Y, more than X.

Have a good Sunday,

MrP
Comments  
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MrPedantic
Hello ICU

This is the structure:

1. I asked them not so much to do X, as to do Y.

Here it is visually:

Asking them to do X: ----------------------

Asking them to do Y: ------------------------------------------

X is not so much as Y: therefore I asked them to do Y, more than X.

Have a good Sunday,

MrP

Thanks, Mr.P I get it now.

So would you say the way it was used in the text is also correct, meaning the change of place of the words?
Hello Eye,

Yes, that word order is quite common.

All the best,

MrP