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Black Metal Recording Question

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by Stevil, Feb 5, 2021.

  1. Stevil

    Stevil New Metal Member

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    EDIT: You don't have to read all this below, but could you guys give me some pointers on how to make my mix sound less anemic? I've attached it below.

    Thank you.





    ----------------------------------
    Hello all, I am a new member and just wanted to inquire about something I keep hearing on all my favorite albums but have had no luck replicating in the studio. I am trying to figure out how some of these black metal bands are getting this huge cathedral sized sound on their mixes without drowning the mix in reverb or whatever. My mixes sound okay but are very 2 dimensional, and you can tell they were recorded in a bedroom.

    Can someone tell me how to effectively copy the ambience and massiveness of songs like these?:
    Dimmu Borgir - Allegiance
    Old Mans Child - Enslaved and Condemned
    Troll - Til Helvete Med Alt
    The Kovenant - The Sulpher Feast
    Naglfar - Into The Black

    I've also noticed that these mixes sound almost like further away.

    I've uploaded one of my own songs for comparison.

    Some of the gear I'm using:
    GUITAR:
    Jackson guitar with EMG pickups
    Ibanez guitar with stock pickups
    Randall RD5 amp
    Behringer tube screamer
    4x12 Marshall cabinet modded with Mesa British Celestion V30 speaker (other 3 speakers are stock)
    SM57 & Audix D2 mics (closed mic'd in Ulrich Wild mic positions as shown by SpectreSoundStudios youtube channel)
    Mono summed using Behringer board (doesn't actually change the sound almost at all judging from the tests I've done)

    Drums:
    Drum samples from the Fredman Studios Brighton pack and drumagog to replace close mics (using sm57 and audix d6 on snare/kick respectively and some CAD mics on the toms, but don't end up using these mics in the mix)
    2 BM800's on overheads (saving up for something better)
    1 MXL R144 ribbon mic in the room (about 6 feet from the kit pointed at the kick drum)

    Bass:
    Dean Custom Zone (neon green) Bass guitar
    Fender Rumble 25 amp
    Audio Technica M8000 mic & AT2020 mic (close mic'd & compressed/saturated/eq'd)

    Rackmount Gear:
    3 Art Pre-amps (one Pro MPA II and 2 TPS II's)
    Lexicon MX200 Reverb/Delay
    8 channel interface (M Audio M Track 8)
    BBE MaxCom Compressor
    DBX 215 EQ
    Rocktron Pro GAP
    Behringer Autocom Pro XL Compressor

    Room Treatment:
    I have made a handful of crappy bass traps using roxul insulation & plywood and stuck them all over the room with no rhyme or reason
    My room is shaped super weird so it's not that easy to set these up in ideal places, however it's also not exactly cube shaped so that's something, right?

    DAW/plugins: Recording into Logic Express 9 on an old Mac
    Have a bunch of the older waves plugins (Scheps 73, Trueverb, Aphex Vintage Exciter, C4, CLA Drums, CLA-2A, EKramer FX, IDR, AudioTrack, InPhase, L1 Limiter, MannyM Delay, SSLChannel, SSL EQ, SSL Comp, SSLGChannel, Vitamin)
    Eventide Omnipressor (I usually apply this to my bass along with the Audio Assault Head Crusher or RM-2 plugin or else I might try the TSE BOD v2 plugin)
    Soundtoys (Devil-Loc, Little Plate, Little PrimalTap, Little Radiator)
    WA Production (SphereComp, SphereDelay, SphereQuad)
    Bunch of other stuff. Won't bother listing it all off, but this is some of the stuff I use the most frequently or felt was worth listing off

    Typical master chain: Newfangled EQuivocate, SSL Comp, Hiku, TDR Limiter 6 GE



    Please let me know if I can give any additional information that may be helpful, and I'm sorry for making my first post so ridiculous. I have been searching for the right tone for years and I am kind of stuck. Any help you guys can give in order to get me in the same ballpark as what I'm shooting for would be extremely appreciated.

    Thank you!
     

    Attached Files:

    #1 Stevil, Feb 5, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2021
  2. henryjarv

    henryjarv Member

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    Drums are....Quite boring, and robotic. Sounds like a metronome with a closed hat/ride sound.
    Needs more crash cymbals. And louder.
    More tom fills too...

    Guitars a little bit too loud, or too much mids..

    Upload tracks here, so someone can try something different?
     
  3. Stevil

    Stevil New Metal Member

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    Thanks for the tips. I'll have to purchase a crash cymbal at some point in the near future then. The two I currently have I believe are of the ride/crash hybrid variety. The tom fills I might be able to add in a few more of. Perhaps I'll try another take at some point.

    You're probably right on the guitars having too much in the mid section as well. My Randall does have an option to scoop the mids but I've been hesitant to try it since all the online advice I always read specifically mentions not to scoop the mids. I'm thinking it may be worth trying it out though to see how it sounds.

    As for the tracks, yeah I can share them but there's a 34mb max upload size on here. Do you have an email you'd be comfortable with me sending them to? I have a zip file that's about a gig and a half.
     
  4. henryjarv

    henryjarv Member

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    That "don't scoop the mids!" just doesn't work for everything. Don't believe those djentcore mixing tips, when you are trying to mix something totally different.
    And mids can be anything from 200 to 2k.....So of course, don't cut all the mids.

    I tried EQ on your song, I think there's too much at about 350-400 on guitars. And try to boost highs a little

    It's easier to cut something, than boost. So I don't think you need to record again, just EQ what you already have.

    Some compression could work for drum bus. Drums sound kind of lifeless.
    TDR Kotelnikov is quite good and there's presets for drums. Adjust threshold and that's it. Or that's a good start.

    Or you could add a link here from dropbox or google drive...?
    But I send you my email anyway.


    .....And you said that you have EQuivocate. Did you know that you can EQ match with it?
    If not, learn how to do that. I'm quite sure there's some youtube video about it, maybe.

    Then you can compare your song to another song, and see and hear the difference.
     
  5. Stevil

    Stevil New Metal Member

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    Ah okay yeah that would make sense for the EQing. I'll have to give that a shot and see how it turns out. Will also try some compression on the drum bus.

    Didn't even think of cloud storage, but yeah here you go: [link]1QvCGms_X_dxJQqx9osDd_OQplxGEppjr[/link]
    Also sent it to your email.
    Let me know if that works or not. Sharing should be enabled for you.

    As for EQuivocate - that's awesome. I completely forgot about that feature. Will do some experimenting with it and keep you posted on how it goes. Thanks for that tip!
     
    #5 Stevil, Feb 11, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2021
  6. henryjarv

    henryjarv Member

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  7. Stevil

    Stevil New Metal Member

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    Very nice. I like what you did with the guitar there. I see what you're saying about the lower mids being a large part of the problem with the guitars. This sounds much smoother. Feel like the drums still sound a little bland, but that's more to do with the material I gave you to work with haha. Whatever reverb effect you put on it (or whatever that is) does seem to help give it some depth.

    I'm working on a new mix as well. Will post later if I can get it sounding right.
     
  8. henryjarv

    henryjarv Member

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    Thanks!

    Yep those drums are difficult to mix. Kick and snare sound like samples too much, no dynamics, or noise from cymbals.
    You really need some crash cymbals. Or you could maybe try to add crash samples....Not sure about that idea.
    If it's played to a click track, it could work.

    I replaced kick 70% with Dimmu sample :D
    GComp Kick preset
    Raum reverb, Kick Slap preset

    Snare replaced with TMKD Snare2...

    Overheads compressed with aux input from snare.

    Drum bus compressed with TDR Kotelnikov, Drum smasher preset
    Sanford Reverb, Drum Room preset.
     
  9. Stevil

    Stevil New Metal Member

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    Will definitely look into purchasing a crash cymbal.
    The song is played to a click, but it's not perfectly time aligned. Perhaps I can consider adding some crash samples.

    The Dimmu kick sounds cool. Where did you find that if you don't mind me asking? The samples I'm using are from the Brighton pack from Fredman Digital. I used them in the hopes of getting something as close to Dimmu as I could, but they just don't end up sounding right. The kick alone seems to be missing a ton of low end.

    I've been playing around with EQuivocate's EQ matching feature and I gotta say I'm liking it a lot. Uploading another mix that I think is a lot better sounding than the previous one. Feel free to let me know what you think.
     

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  10. JayB

    JayB Member

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    listening on crappy headphones at the moment but I like the guitar sound. It has some balls to it and doesn't have scratchy high end that I can hear. I agree the drums sound a bit lifeless, can't tell if it's samples or like the other dude said how there's just hardly any cymbals or toms. The drums remind me of fear factory in that robotic sort of way. On that last bit around 6 mins, it seems like it's all just one snare sample at the same velocity. I'm by no means amazing at this, but I use slate trigger 2 and it does a pretty good job at not sounding anywhere near that robotic.

    Edit: also, the snare hits/ samples seem to have no tail to them, they seem to almost cut out very abruptly. (mostly at that last part around 6:00 it sounds like a strong noise gate on snare) Are you using like an extreme noise gate or something? maybe tone that down or add some additional reverb or something for some more atmosphere.
     
    #10 JayB, Feb 14, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  11. JayB

    JayB Member

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    also just fyi you can upload stuff to Soundcloud and share it that way
     
  12. henryjarv

    henryjarv Member

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    I think that's a lot better now. Not so muddy.

    Next step is, that you really do something to those drums, mixing just can't make those sound interesting enough.
    But it's great that you at least try to use some real drums, everyone uses samples now...

    Some drum parts on your song doesn't really match with the guitars.
    Open/half open hi-hat could be used more, and not all the time 8th notes with the same velocity like a robot.
     
  13. Stevil

    Stevil New Metal Member

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    Hey thanks for replying! And for the kind words. Definitely trying to avoid the over-hyped high end typical of a lot of black metal bands. I was lucky enough to find an all-tube Randall amp this past year so I'm trying to get that thing dialed in properly before I do my guitar takes.

    As for the drums - yeah I think I had fudged the original drum track towards the end (I don't have the leg strength for that type of kick work these days, though I have been practicing and trying to get back in shape). So I did some copying/pasting to try to fix it, but yeah clearly it needs some more work. May practice the part a bit more and try the recording again. Will also play around with the reverb a bit and see if I can fix that a bit as well too. No gate on it, so I think it's just that you're hearing too much of the samples and not enough of everything else. Will keep you posted if I get something worthwhile down.
    In most of my non-metal songs I typically blend a lot of the original kick/snare mics in with the samples and that's something I was avoiding in the metal songs as they can be really hard to mix, but I'm starting to wonder if I should return to that method again and keep at it.

    I always forget I have a soundcloud haha. Shit, I have my own website too. I don't know why I never think of uploading stuff to that either.


    You'll be happy to know I took your advice and bought a crash cymbal. It's on it's way as we speak.
    As for the drum parts that don't match - are you talking parts that are slightly off-beat? It's probably just my sloppy playing. Definitely getting the feeling I need to practice a bit more before the next take.
    As for the 8th notes - hah, yeah you got me there. The high hats are something I've come to use as a crutch so I can try to keep the timing of the song. Will do some work on this when the new cymbal arrives and try to add in some variety to the playing though. Thanks again for the tips!
     
    #13 Stevil, Feb 14, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  14. henryjarv

    henryjarv Member

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    Great! That's going to make a huge difference.
    Your playing is fine. But I would maybe try to play something different for the first riff.
    For example, kick drum to follow guitar chugs more, and hat half open, with more velocity variation.
    So it wouldn't sound so much like time keeping.

    But, this is just an idea. Not sure if it would sound good or not.
    Crash cymbal is going to help a lot anyway, maybe that's all you need.
     
  15. JayB

    JayB Member

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    Hey no problem. Not sure if you're aware but Slate Trigger 2 has the ability to like run your live drums through the plugin and it records it as MIDI data, which is great for situations like you describe where you need to do heavy edits but it' sounding fake. Then you can use the samples in Trigger 2 and they will play at the velocity you played at and all (and you can obviously tweak the velocities of the MIDI notes if the actual performance is too robotic etc), so it could prob make extreme editing like at the end sound more natural.
     
  16. Stevil

    Stevil New Metal Member

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    Yeah that'd be fine. I'll give it a shot once the cymbal gets here and see what I can come up with. Will post the results here.



    That's cool about the MIDI data option. May be worth checking out just for that feature alone.
    Drumagog is what I'm currently using for sample replacement. It actually has the option to play the samples at the same velocity, so I must've turned the option off for this song. More than likely because my playing was a little too dynamic and was getting buried in the mix. I think I'd like to try getting it more right at the source though. To me this is an indication that I need to work less on the editing and more on practicing my drum parts. I think that's what I'll try first and then I can always keep Slate Trigger 2 as a backup plan haha.

    But yeah you guys are clearly both hearing the same thing with the drums sounding too digital and not dynamic enough. So definitely something I've got to address in the next version.



    I actually have another song I'm working on as well that I think has a better overall drum take (don't think there's any editing in it and I left dynamic tracking mode on in drumagog). I'm still trying to get the mix to sound better overall, but I might post that one shortly and see how you guys feel about that one if you're interested. You've been very helpful so far with this mix, so if you have an interest in hearing another I'd be happy to post. If not that's okay though.
     
  17. henryjarv

    henryjarv Member

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    Go ahead and post anything, this forum has been dead for years.
    Good to see some life here :rofl:
     
  18. Stevil

    Stevil New Metal Member

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    Alright cool. Here is the other one I've been playing with. I think the biggest problem with this one is that it's pretty muddy, so I need to work on that a bit, but definitely feel free to let me know what you think.

    The drums on this one might be less dynamic than I had initially thought.

    EDIT: I spent some more time on this tonight and think I might've gotten it a little clearer. Haven't listened to it in the car yet though so apologies if it sounds worse. Decided to just leave both versions up here.
     

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    #18 Stevil, Feb 15, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
  19. henryjarv

    henryjarv Member

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    Second version is more clear, but maybe even too much. I would bring back a little bit low frequencies to guitar.

    Drums on faster parts aren't very tight, so.....Need to practice playing, or quantize notes.

    Also that first lead guitar sounds weird at fast parts. Could be tighter playing there too..
     
  20. Stevil

    Stevil New Metal Member

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    Thanks for the update. Here's another attempt with the guitar sound.

    As for the drums and the first lead - I'll practice up and work on another drum attempt to try to get it tighter. I'd rather not quantize if I can avoid it, but we'll see. I'd rather just try to get a good enough performance if possible.
    The first lead is the only part of the song I didn't play so I'll have to ask my bandmate if he wants to re-record his part and try to get it tighter.

    Thanks again.
     

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