Reviewing Awaclus's new album Misanthropy: I really like Cheese Knife. Sounds nice, very relaxing, sounding nothing like the album art or the band name, and then...
F*** Your Dynamic Range, It scared me half to death, because Cheese Knife lulled me into security. Oh well.
I think the genre is metal? (I can recognize elements of EDM, so it's probably a mixture) This album in that sense is not something I can really rate, since I don't really listen to metal. What I can concentrate on much better is the composition of instruments and the mixing.
Combining metal and EDM is a clever idea. And wow, I just got to No Longer Human's chorus. That is one of the weirdest things I have ever heard in music in quite some time. I like it though. Now noticing the kick, it sounds a bit flimsy and unnatural. With all of the compression going on and the cranking up to 11 though, something has to give. In fact, the drum tracks (at least in this song) is lacking in the high end. I think it could be sharper. The more I hear that bass/guitar groove, the more I'm liking it. Not sure if the guitar is real, it sounds like a virtual instrument sometimes, but then there's a distinct guitar sound to it sometimes too, not that it really matters. It sounds great.
The beginning of The Visitor is something I'm not sure about. It's very very cool, but it's too sharp. Perhaps tone down the EQ a bit? There's so much noise going on as I'm listening to the song. It doesn't sound well mixed, everything is bleeding into something else. I don't know how to describe it. You've been bit crushing the vocals sometimes, it's a cool idea. Girl in the Shell is probably my favorite song on this album. The riff is nice.
All in all, the album lacks just a bit in mixing. It sounds flat, perhaps it's too compressed. Not enough going on in the high end, though the low end doesn't seem to have much of an issue at all. The snare needs more snap, and though the kick has plenty of kick to it, it's also lacking something. I can't say what, but it just doesn't sound right to me. The guitars were mixed top notch and the bass was very well done. The vocals were not too loud or too soft, it was mixed well into the songs.
I would be very interested in knowing how you mixed your stuff there. Ignoring the few problems I mentioned, the album has this feel to it that would be cool to try and emulate, and I like learning new things and how people do things and whatnot.
What software do you use? Any 3rd part plug-ins? Any difficulties this album gave you in its creation? Did you create this album with anybody else? How long did it take? How would you rate this album in regards to your other works? What do you consider your best song ever? I could ask more questions upon more questions, but this post is getting long enough as it is.
Wow, I really appreciate the effort you've put into this. The genre is metal, specifically avant-garde metal.
The kick drum in No Longer Human's chorus mostly consists of a sample I got from a free sample pack, which I believe is sampled from an old vinyl (or a similar lo-fi effect has been applied to it digitally), and it sounds like that on purpose because I was going for an old school jungle type of sound there. It might be true that the mix in general doesn't have as much high end; I was doing most of the mixing on my earphones which are super bass heavy because my headphones were being fixed, and I only got the headphones very late and everything suddenly sounded very bright so I toned it down to be on the safe side and perhaps I overdid it on this one. The guitar is Tommi's guitar (I don't know what model it is or what pickups he has) plugged directly into an audio interface, and then digital distortion pedal/amp/cabinet simulation is applied to it.
Yeah, the beginning of The Visitor kind of bothers me as well actually. I thought that it would get better in the mastering stage when it would get the bassy impact tail from No Longer Human's end underneath the whole high frequency business, and it did, but not as much as I was planning, but changing it at that point would have required much more work and it didn't sound completely hideous so I left it like that. I haven't actually bit crushed the vocals, they do have digital saturation and tape saturation simulation on them though, and they have it all the time. Getting more clarity in the mix is certainly something that I think need to improve at, and The Visitor is probably one of the songs that are the most damaged by this because there's so much different stuff going on at the same time and some of it is kind of problematic too (like the super low rap vocals on the verses). I'm not even 100% sure if it's my mixing technique or if I'm just not supposed to arrange songs to have so much stuff going on at the same time to begin with.
I don't think that metal or EDM can be too compressed (well, they can, but that threshold is super high for both). If it sounds too flat, then maybe it's just lacking in the high frequencies, or maybe there could be more volume automation to make it more interesting or maybe the arrangements should have been different. The snare was actually all kinds of problematic, because there are times when it needs to sound massive and other times when there's a blast beat and it needs to not ruin everything. Most of what I did at the very late stages of mixing was just tweaking the snare. I probably could have spent way more time trying out different settings to get it just right, but as it turns out, we wanted to release the album pretty soon so I didn't get to do that (and I'm also somewhat glad that I didn't have to).
What the kick is lacking is the airy mid frequencies you normally get when you place a microphone inside a kick drum and record it (well, perhaps something else as well, but that's at least something that I can point out). The reason for this is that I made the kick drum sound with FM synthesis and I didn't make it have those. They would make it sound more realistic, but not fit in a metal mix quite as well as the kick does now. Perhaps I could have also synthesized that airy sound and just have it very low on the mix.
I use FL Studio 12 and a ton of 3rd party plugins, e.g. the guitar amp sim plugins from LePou Plugins and Ignite Amps, the Variety Of Sound tape/tube saturation plugins, DSK Asian DreamZ, BitterSweet v3 (I forgot which developer makes it), the Valhalla reverbs, the RC 48 reverb, FabFilter Saturn, FabFilter Pro-L, and various Kong Audio instruments. Other than that, I just use the plugins that come with FL, because a lot of them are incredibly good, and not just good for stock plugins, but like, incredibly good, period, and obviously the fact that they are native plugins makes things a lot more convenient.
Yes, there were various difficulties, mostly with the guitar sound at first and then with the snare sound, and also just arranging recording sessions with the other band members was more difficult after I moved away, then there was the whole headphone issue which I already mentioned, and it always requires some optimization to get the CPU usage lower than 100, but mostly we just missed a bunch of deadlines that we had set for ourselves (which was fine because those were never made public) and things worked out with a little bit of extra time, and there was no single problem that would have caused a ton of frustration by itself and it was a way smoother experience all around than our previous album. I did create this album with the other band members, namely Isto "Juhan Rose Hellstén" Merta (lead vocalist), Tommi Miettinen (guitarist), Antti "aiskould" Moilanen (bassist) and Johannes Valtonen (lead vocalist). I composed the songs in summer 2014, we started recording the album in I think July 2015 after our previous album was released and this year I've been just mixing and mastering it. In terms of production, I think my Gradus Prohibitus dubstep remix is the only thing by me that's better than this (and it's easier to make professional sounding dubstep mixes than metal, although the sound design is more difficult, but I'm way better at sound design than mixing), and in terms of songwriting, this is quite clearly better than Anti-Puppet Theory which is the only other comparison point, but I have to say that I have composed albums that are better than this that we are going to release in the future. Girl in the Shell is probably the best song out of what we've released so far, and it's kind of pointless to talk about songs that we haven't released yet because you don't know what they sound like.
I'll be sure to check that out later, unfortunately I'm a bit too tired to say anything useful about a song at the moment.