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Some Macabre questions

Discussion in 'Neil Kernon - Auslander' started by Bassbait, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. Bassbait

    Bassbait Not actually a Bassist.

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    Since you produced Macabre's "Dahmer" and "Murder Metal" albums, I had a few questions about those two albums.

    First off, did you trigger/sample the bass drum on both albums? The "Murder Metal" bass drum sounds a bit more sampled than the "Dahmer" bass drum, so I'm wondering if there's a difference between the two, and if either/both of them are triggers/samples or mic'd.

    Secondly, I was wondering what your thoughts on the "loudness war" is, because I noticed quite a bit of compression on those two albums. Was that something the band requested? Was it something that just seemed to fit the music? Or what?

    How were the albums recorded? Since there's two separate guitar tracks per song, I'm going to assume that the band members recorded their parts separately, is this the case? And I'm also going to assume that they didn't play to a click because they have always been very inconsistent with tempos, which I like because brutal music and machine-like accuracy don't mix well.

    Were the guitars and bass direct-in or mic'd up through amps?


    These are just some questions I've always wondered about those two albums. I'd also like to add that those albums (Dahmer and Murder Metal) are both really well produced and the drum production is especially good. Me and the drummer of my band are amateur producers ourselves, and while we don't even have an album out yet, we're trying to learn all of the tricks to get our album to sound perfect. It seems with every recording, there's something to complain about, whether it be clicky bass drums or bass being too low, and up near the top of the list of good production is Dahmer, with all of the instruments coming in clearly, and really good tone on all of the instruments.

    Sorry if I rambled on for too long, I have a lot of questions because I really love those two albums.
     
  2. NK

    NK Complete Bastard

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    I used bass drum samples on both albums, if I remember correctly. They were both sampled equally, as in 100%.

    The original bass drums were miced, and then I replaced those with samples. It's been a while since I did those albums, so I'm not sure which samples I used, sorry.

    I hate the loudness war. There's a lot less compression on these albums compared to a lot of others, but there's always pressure to make your album as kickarse sounding as <insert your favourite album here>, so we went for as loud as possible without sounding horrid. That was my idea. The band was not present at the mastering sessions.

    The albums were not recorded to a click. The drums were done first, then guitars, then bass, then vocals and solos. This is quite a common approach, and has worked well in the past. Your mileage might vary.

    The guitars and bass were recorded using amps, not direct - in.

    I've been an amateur producer for many years now, and it still seems that for every album there are probably five times as many people who really hate it compared to those who love it.

    Oh well.

    It's impossible to make everyone happy, because even if you turn everything up louder than everything else, there are still many people who will hate that. It's enough to make you want to give up and go back to being a brain surgeon again, but don't give up! Persevering is the only way to hone your art into a finely-tuned lethal weapon.

    I'm really glad you enjoy the albums, and I certainly appreciate your questions and kind words. My advice? Never give up. There's lots to learn in this most unusual business of music.

    Have fun, and above all, Ganbare!
     
  3. Bassbait

    Bassbait Not actually a Bassist.

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    Thanks for all of the answers, and in such quick time!

    My own band actually does a lot of similar things. We recorded our demo with a bass drum mic and re-sampled. We did drums, rhythm guitar, bass, lead guitars, vocals. Our drummer did use a click though, so that's different. We avoided direct-in, but were basically forced to direct-in with the bass, we couldn't properly mic our bassist's rig. I get the whole "make everyone happy" thing, that is difficult. When my brother listened to our mix, 5 seconds in he said "bass drum is too loud". I find that everyone has different preferences for production, some people want the bass to not stand out at all (which is what it seems like Nile wants), and some want it to be practically a lead instrument (Macabre). My band uses Death, Macabre, and Opeth as templates for how an album should sound, although our band uses less compression than Macabre or Opeth, because I've always been against the loudness war myself.

    Thanks again, and I have a couple more questions -

    why such a different production style on Nile's latest record (which I actually like the production of)?

    Why did you go from stuff like Hall & Oates to Macabre and Nile? It seems like quite a drastic change. It's funny because my parents are fans of all 3.
     
  4. NK

    NK Complete Bastard

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    To be honest, everyone hears things differently. A guitarist might prefer the guitars louder, a drummer the drums louder, etc.

    You probably can't please everyone, especially the bass player, who is used to always being right next to a huge bass rig, so there's no way that the bass sound will ever "feel" like it's in the right place, although you might be able to hear it just fine.

    The Nile guys don't really like bass guitar much. They feel that the other elements are more important, which, in the context of their music, is probably true. Their bass parts are written to be supportive, not featured, so it doesn't really make sense to have parts like that up front, simply because they are not intended to be loud.

    I enjoy hearing bass, but in the context of Nile, as long you can feel the bass part, then it's doing its job nicely. That may change in the future, but on the four albums I've produced for them that's pretty much been the philosophy.

    In Macabre, Nefarious likes to have a clear, bright tone, and in the context of Macabre - a 3 piece - that works really well. Everything is nice and clear.

    Regarding the newest Nile (Sethu) we wanted the guitars to be particularly clear, so we backed off the gain in order to try to really hear the notes better. A lot of people (predictably, I suppose) didn't like it, but the guys in the band loved the approach. Every album we've done together has had significant differences from the one before it - we don't want to keep making the same album over and over again - so we try new things, and as a result every album ends up being unique in its own way. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Change is good, and trying new things is always fun and sometimes a challenge, so we just go along with that approach, and see what happens. It keeps things fresh and exciting.

    As far as me going from H&O to Nile etc. - it's funny really, because I worked on lots of heavy music long before I worked with H&O.

    The first records I had the opportunity to work on were jazz and jazz fusion, which was great because that was the type of music I was really into at the time.

    Still, working at a commercial studio I ended up working on all types of music, but complex/technical music was what I cut my teeth on, so to speak, and it's still very much in my blood. That's probably one reason I enjoy the music of Nile so much.

    So, going from that music to pop (I worked with Elton John, David Bowie, Neil Diamond among many others) wasn't a problem for me at all, so I don't see why it would be a problem for me to go from prog rock to punk to H&O to hair metal to grunge to industrial to death metal. It's all music, which is what I do for a living, so why not?
     
  5. Bassbait

    Bassbait Not actually a Bassist.

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    I thought of some more questions. Thanks again for answering all of these, it's really cool to get to know all of these things.


    When you ended up producing these Death Metal bands (Macabre, Nile, Cannibal Corpse), did the bands approach you? Or did the label approach you? Or did it happen differently?

    When you produce Nile, how do you approach the drum work there? I tend to believe that "brutal" bands should go for a natural sound - no clicks, no samples (if possible), etc, because the raw feeling of that gives it a more "brutal" sound. Does George Kollias just show up and say "I want it to sound like THIS", or does he come in with a more "let's see how we can make my drums sound" approach? I'd imagine he has a distinct sound in mind, but the latest album really threw everything off for his usual sound. I mean it sounds great, much more natural sounding than previous albums (which, as I said, sounds better in a band like Nile), but did George demand the natural sound or did he just like what he heard?

    And this one's a stretch, but, if you had time, would you mind listening to a bit of my band's demo and giving us some critique? It's in my signature (the bandcamp page), and it'd be really great to get some advice from someone other than friends and family. If not, that's perfectly fine. Thanks again, you've been really helpful and informative.
     
  6. NK

    NK Complete Bastard

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    Several different scenarios. Macabre's manager and I were working together at a record label, and he asked me if I'd be interested in producing the band. A year or so later, several members of CC heard Dahmer and liked it, so I was kindly offered the job of producing Cannibal Corpse. Then, Nile heard my work on CC's TWS and their label asked me if I would be interested in working with Nile. I accepted, as I was already a fan of their work.

    The Nile drums were recorded exactly the same way on all four albums I produced. The only difference is the drum kits. Their music is so fast that a lot of the tom fills are very light, so it's really difficult to get those fast fills to be clear without using triggers, which George hates. So, as a result, we don't use triggers on his toms and it takes quite some time to get them sounding clear. The heavier hits are not a problem of course, just the really light ones played at speed up to 290 BPM.
     

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