#1
Hey folks -- I just finished this one yesterday. I haven't had a chance to give it a proper listening on Soundcloud yet, as I'm at work and have crappy speakers. I'm looking for feedback on the mastering side of things (and would welcome any comments on the composition as a whole, if you'd like).

After mastering it yesterday, I got it sounding really sweet, yet was a bit quieter than I'd like compared to the handful of other songs on my album. I have four songs now on my album (at least 3 more to come before it's finished), and this one just came out quieter. When I turn the volume up in my car it sounds awesome, but obviously I need to get it to match the volume of the other songs.

So on the version you're about to hear, I turned the gain up on the limiter plugin to try to coax some more volume out of it. But, I suspect that now there is going to be some pumping. Compared to the CD I burned yesterday, my initial impression is that it does't sound as good, yet is louder. How do you get maximum (or at least decent) volume without "crushing" the sound?

Anyway, here it is -- let me know what you think. Song is titled "The Gathering of Hosts":



NEW VERSION: Latest mix/master: (I also added to the title; it's now called "The Gathering of Hosts/Fist of the Heavens")
https://soundcloud.com/kailm-1/the-gathering-of-hostsfist-of-the-heavens
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
Last edited by KailM at Jun 11, 2016,
#2
Gotta say, this is some kick ass material!

I was gonna say the recording is a bit dim but even that gives me that Unholy Black Metal feeling and I'm loving it. The energy is great. The part where you leave the drive guitar is great. The only thing I can say about that is the first second-long intermission should be a lot more produced if you want the second one to punch people in the face.

The leads were amazing and aggressive, just like they should be. That dark harmonies at the end of it was something worth listen 10 times! But there's a guitar playing error (fret-slide) at 1:57, you should definitely fix that.

The ending was spot on. This was one of those songs that I'm happy to hear it was instrumental actually.

About the mix, I listened the song twice on AKG k240s and Yamaha HS8s and there's an unbalanced stereo field. The panning is stronger on one side (left) and weaker on the other (right), causing a feeling of phase on the listener. The other things I notice are a matter of taste and it's all upto your personal preference.

The master is still not that loud, fyi. I ran it through Izotope to observe it's around 10 LUFS lower than a possible maximum, due to lack of harmonics and volume on the high-end EQ side (around 12k+).

This is great. I will check your other songs as well! Keep up the definitely amazing works!

C4C? https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1702816
#3
Quote by Sammetry
Gotta say, this is some kick ass material!

I was gonna say the recording is a bit dim but even that gives me that Unholy Black Metal feeling and I'm loving it. The energy is great. The part where you leave the drive guitar is great. The only thing I can say about that is the first second-long intermission should be a lot more produced if you want the second one to punch people in the face.

The leads were amazing and aggressive, just like they should be. That dark harmonies at the end of it was something worth listen 10 times! But there's a guitar playing error (fret-slide) at 1:57, you should definitely fix that.

The ending was spot on. This was one of those songs that I'm happy to hear it was instrumental actually.

About the mix, I listened the song twice on AKG k240s and Yamaha HS8s and there's an unbalanced stereo field. The panning is stronger on one side (left) and weaker on the other (right), causing a feeling of phase on the listener. The other things I notice are a matter of taste and it's all upto your personal preference.

The master is still not that loud, fyi. I ran it through Izotope to observe it's around 10 LUFS lower than a possible maximum, due to lack of harmonics and volume on the high-end EQ side (around 12k+).

This is great. I will check your other songs as well! Keep up the definitely amazing works!

C4C? https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1702816


Thank you for the in-depth review! As for the first of your comments that I bolded, could you clarify that? I'm not quite sure what you mean there.

As for that mistake at 1:57 -- I've gotta say you've got great ears! The leads on that "atmospheric" section were 95% improvised, and that little bit was definitely one of the improvised sections. I actually thought about re-doing that part, but I liked how the feedback trailed off afterword that I left it in -- hoping nobody would notice the playing error. I can easily go back and fix that and even keep the feedback trailoff if need be.

Regarding the panning, do you have any recommended plug-ins I could use to analyze and fix that problem? I am working with Presonus Studio One 2. Thanks again! I gave you a quick response on your thread, but I'll do a better one later.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#4
I listened twice, again, after going through your comment. The song is still amazing btw, hahah.

What I meant was, around 0:15 you fade out slowly and then fade-in again with a sustain guitar. What I'd do would be to blast that fade-in! Really hard. With a sub-bass blast at the low-end, feedback pedal boost on the guitar, full velocity cymbal notes on the drums and maybe even a scream vocal at the high-end. I really don't know why but I loved that trick and feel like if you could blast it off with more production, the clean section's entry would be even more dramatic.

I used Izotope 6 Insight to analyze your song through my sound card's output while listening. I'd really recommend that plug-in. It's very helpful to determine how loud are your tracks, what frequencies are missing etc. It's a bit on the expensive side but you should check it out if you can. Or if you're after something cheaper I strongly recommend Blue Cat's Multi-Analysis pack.

Can't wait for your comment! Cheers again!
#5
Quote by Sammetry
I listened twice, again, after going through your comment. The song is still amazing btw, hahah.

What I meant was, around 0:15 you fade out slowly and then fade-in again with a sustain guitar. What I'd do would be to blast that fade-in! Really hard. With a sub-bass blast at the low-end, feedback pedal boost on the guitar, full velocity cymbal notes on the drums and maybe even a scream vocal at the high-end. I really don't know why but I loved that trick and feel like if you could blast it off with more production, the clean section's entry would be even more dramatic.


Gotcha. Though it already has that "dramatic" feel when it blasts out of that drum fill, I agree, I could make it even more intense. I may just play around with raising the volume of that track a hair, and then after the next fill raise it even more (as that's where I go up in pitch and the double-kick and snare get even crazier). Might even throw a 30 second black metal scream in there -- we'll see if I have it in me.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#6
My first impression is that the song has a bit of an identity crisis. It doesn't really sound like death metal and the only black metal part is the rather clichéd old school 90s black metal sounding riff at the beginning and the end. That riff wasn't bad at all, but it's nothing that every 90s Norwegian band hasn't done. Then there was that melodic metalcore part after the clean part. Those just don't fit together so well, especially not with...

The clean section. Okay, sooo... it's not a bad idea, but it's a bit too long and doesn't particularly develop into anything. It's kind of like making a potentially good statement without offering any support. The lead playing sounded kind of messy during that part as well.

Like I get what you were going for with that section and like what you are going for, but ultimately I felt that it fell a bit short in creating the atmosphere that you wanted. Also the fact that it is so long makes the metal sections at the beginning and end seem like an afterthought rather than part of the same piece.

Clean part by itself would be fine. Shorter clean part in the middle of the song later in the song would have been great. But I don't think it works so well.

The drums were fine, but I did not like the sound. Other than compression issues, which you acknowledged, the actual drum sound isn't quite right. It's too hi-fi for black metal and not really gritty enough for death metal. But the actual drum parts were fine.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#7
^^^Well, this song is definitely meant to be listened to in context with my other songs (half of which aren't recorded yet.) While black metal is probably my biggest influence, it will not be a 'black metal' album per se. I mean, I can create a pure black metal album if I want, but then it would REALLY be cliche. I'm not going for the typical lo-fi production either, but not super-polished either. For lack of a better comparison, I'm going for a style similar to Opeth, only if black metal had been the foundation of their structure instead of death metal. I hate to call it "prog," but essentially that's kind of what I'm planning. Blut Aus Nord is a huge influence as well -- and if you listen to his black metal material you can hear a lot of variety in structure with a great deal of melody intertwined -- yet it remains brutal as hell.

I agree, the clean section is a bit indulgent. I will consider trimming that back a bit. However, I disagree that "it doesn't go anywhere." I feel that it does build-up to that "melodic metalcore " section [though I disagree with that characterization as well]. Perhaps I need to work on the transition a little more. If you have any recommendations for that, I'm all ears. As for the leads on the clean section, most of those were recorded in one take and purely improvised. I went back and tweaked a few of them because I heard even better ideas to develop. But ultimately I kind of wanted to keep that "loose" feel to them.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#8
Quote by KailM
Gotcha. Though it already has that "dramatic" feel when it blasts out of that drum fill, I agree, I could make it even more intense. I may just play around with raising the volume of that track a hair, and then after the next fill raise it even more (as that's where I go up in pitch and the double-kick and snare get even crazier). Might even throw a 30 second black metal scream in there -- we'll see if I have it in me.


Exactly. Don't get me wrong, it's already there Let me know if/when you change anything with it or post a new track. I'm on le watch for your material now on.
#9
^^^Well, I went back and found all sorts of shenanigans in the mix.:lol:

At :29 there was a tremelo picking part that I had originally intended to quad-track, but only got around to recording it on the left, apparently. So that explains why the left side was louder at that section.

Then I found a leftover solo hiding in the middle of a rhythm/tremelo section. Couldn't hear it through the wall of distortion, but I'm sure it adversely affected the mix.

The troubles with having narrow windows of time with which to work...:lol:

After a week of listening to it in my car (without the ability to tweak anything), I've got a few ideas on how to make this track better. That's actually a practice I'd recommend to anybody --- take the ability to control things out of the equation, and over time and repeated listening, let your brain tell you what needs to happen. I'm planning on tweaking the bass line, for example, near the end of the clean section to make it a little more melodic. I'll post a new version when I get it done.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#10
So here's a new version.

I added a few things and worked on the transitions. Tried my hand at some black metal vocals for a short part. Might have failed, lol.

Overall, I think the transitions are working a little better now, and it sounds great in my car (better than Soundcloud, for sure). Let me know what you think.

Latest mix/master: (I also added to the title; it's now called "The Gathering of Hosts/Fist of the Heavens")



First version to compare against: https://soundcloud.com/kailm-1/the-gathering-of-hosts
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#12
First off, I really appreciate that you took the time to listen to my track and offer your feedback.

The Gathering of Hosts/Fist Of The Heavens strides confidently between raw, energetic black metal riffs and airy, strewn sections. The fade out at 0:13 was very well done. The section immediately after is very raw and fits the genre. The transition at 1:00 was unexpected; though I did hear a build-up of sorts coming. I like the guitar tone you have at about 1:05, the delay effect gives the riff a trance-like feel. I noticed you allow a lot of feedback and otherwise searing (higher-pitched sounds trailing off) to shine through the mix. I am usually not a fan of this, but it really works in this track. I read the description for the track on your SoundCloud page. I thought the vocals I did hear were very well done, but I think this track could benefit from [more] vocals.

Overall, this was a refreshing and entertaining listen. Thanks for sharing!
#13
Hello there.

This is a really well written piece. The early parts definitely give off an early Emperor vibe (any era Emperor is good with me). I'm not a big fan of the fade out/in part at the beginning. It felt like it was too short and kind of out of place (thats my take on it). Composition wise I would have preferred to have more of the blast beats and tremolo picking part before going into the soundscape. Thats not to say that the middle part of the track isnt well done. I liked the feel of it a lot. But for me it was too long as a proportion of the whole track. The leads at the end when things come back in sound really good.

Mixwise it's tricky for me to comment - I like black metal but always got frustrated with what I called the "recorded in a shed on a fucking boom box" sound a lot of bands go for (to be clear - I'm NOT saying your track has that sound - it's just prevalent in the genre). I get it's a matter of preference and thats cool - but it makes it hard for me to crit black metal in other peoples work. I try to create my black metal with a more crisp and punchy mix (more like a tech death production) and I fail at it - consistently - so I end up with something in between that still sounds vaguely old school by failure rather than design. Anyway, all the rambling aside - I would go for a more punchy kick sound with less reverb on the guitars and more low end on the bass track. It's all preference though.

The mix for the middle part of the track (the soundscapey element) is brilliantly mixed for me. Lots of space, good use of reverb and delay to give it a lot of feeling and atmosphere. I cant offer any suggestions on the mix for that section.

Cool track overall. Maybe if you continue you can fill the void Emperor left behind when they disbanded.

Cheers
#14
Quote by KailM
So here's a new version.

I added a few things and worked on the transitions. Tried my hand at some black metal vocals for a short part. Might have failed, lol.

Overall, I think the transitions are working a little better now, and it sounds great in my car (better than Soundcloud, for sure). Let me know what you think.

Latest mix/master: (I also added to the title; it's now called "The Gathering of Hosts/Fist of the Heavens")



First version to compare against: https://soundcloud.com/kailm-1/the-gathering-of-hosts


This is f****** magnificent! Kudos, brother!
#15
@RabidBadger -- Thanks a lot for the feedback! I take the "Emperor" comparison as a huge compliment, since they are one of my favorite black metal bands. Oddly enough, I wasn't thinking about Emperor as I wrote this song, but apparently their influence came out! I definitely have more material to unveil -- but my production speed is slower than a glacier. But I have 4 or 5 more songs coming that will comprise about a 50 minute album. Some of the heaviest/"blackest" tracks have yet to be done -- stay tuned. I hear you about black metal production. While I am a fan of the old school "recorded live in one take with a Fisher-Price cassette-tape-recorder in a garage" on some of the monumental albums of the early 90s -- that style has been done to death and I'm not going for it. What I'm going for is a later Immortal (or Emperor) production level; where the guitars are still gnarly, but there's a healthy amount of bass in the mix. A few other bands that accomplish this are Blut Aus Nord, Winterfylleth, and Wodensthrone. Dimmu's production on PEM goes slightly too far for my taste; but that album does sound crushing. For my mixes, I guess I kind of like that production, but with a little more grit and grime to come through, with the instruments allowed to blend a little more instead of being so distinct and crisp -- as is all the rage in modern metal production.

@Sammetry -- Thanks a lot man! I've been listening to your full album -- brilliant! I've been waiting to write another review until I've had a chance to fully digest it as a complete album. I'll write something soon.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#16
I really like the guitar tone and riffs a lot. Nice and scary sounding. Drums are also done really well. Are they real or programmed?

The fade outs/ins at 0:13 and 0:36 are pretty weird and sounded like you were switching songs in a preview of an album or something. I think there's too much of that reverb effect on the vocals at 0:50 because I didn't know what was happening at first. I also got that feeling on a few other sounds in the song.

Other than those two things, I thought the song was really good.
#17
^^^Thanks for the review! The drums are real in the sense that they were performed by a real drummer and recorded into loops. But I arranged all the loops and edited everything. I got them off the Betamonkey Double Bass III series. $30 gets you hundreds of grooves, fills, and one-shots. It's sometimes limiting to work with those loops, but it sounds better than the midi drums on my DAW. All I added was a little EQ and reverb. Eventually I'd like to try EZDrummer II, but I need to upgrade my DAW so it will accept it, and then there's the cost of EZDII....I'm not made of money, lol.

As for those fade outs/ins -- I've had an equal number of people who said they liked them to the number of people who found them "weird." So I'm kind of on the fence as to what to do with those. In my head they make sense. I have also backed off on the reverb on my vocals in my latest mix and it sounds better. I am working on several other songs now and will do a final once-over to this one before I release the whole album.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#18
I really dig the black metal riffs in the beginning of the song. The transition at :14 sounds a little off to me but it's not bad. I really liked the transition between the beginning and the clean section, something about all the feedback and ringing as this haunting clean guitar comes in just works really really well. And speaking of the clean section, the soundscape you create there is absolutely incredible. You have the perfect blend of reverb and delay and, for lack of a more precise way to describe it, you let all the instruments "breathe" to create this sort of somber, drifting atmosphere that's reminiscent of old school Opeth in all the right ways. The only criticism I have for that section of the song is that it does run on a little long and could use some kind of dynamic shift around halfway through, maybe a bass line, a second clean guitar layered over the first, or some light, moody percussion to keep it moving.

The last minute or so of the song when the distorted guitars come back in has some nice stuff going on, but coming off of that middle section it feels very short and makes for an ending that feels somewhat off. It's not that the music itself there isn't good -- it's actually pretty damn great -- it's just that it all feels like it's building up to something and then the song just kind of ends. It might be worth taking the time to develop a third act of the song that really capitalizes on the tension built in the middle section and the exploding energy of all those guitars coming back in. Just my two cents. That said, this is some really fantastic work and I'll be stalking the shit out of your soundcloud when you put out that album.

C4C? https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1705915#1