#1
This has been a bear to compose, record, and produce, let me tell you.  I started this many months ago, had my main amp break down, etc.  No time to work, yadda yadda.  But here it is, finally.

I've spent so much time on this and have gone through so many tweaks, added vocals, etc., that I can't be objective about it any longer.  As usual, my biggest challenge was in taking my mix and bringing it up to a somewhat commercial level without squashing it to death.  I'll say this up front -- I'm not a vocalist, let alone a black metal vocalist.  This is the best I could do, but I'm not sure I like how I sound.  If I ever turn this one-man project into a real band, I'll probably get a real singer and just be the lead guitarist.  I usually mention this in all my releases, but I am not going for a "modern" level of production, but not "necro" level black metal production either.  I was going for nasty sounding guitars, with a touch of refinement, and I think I achieved that.  The track is decidedly long, but I felt it needed to be to tell the story.  Hopefully the shifts I used keep it interesting.  Anyhow, here it is -- enjoy!  Feedback appreciated.

https://soundcloud.com/kailm-1/black-epoch
#2
KailM Very interesting piece. I really like your atmospherics. The intro reminded me of some Cruelty era Cradle of Filth intro (thankfully your drum production sounds better than that through). 

When the guitar kicks in around the 1:30 mark I found it a bit loud and aggressive in the ears. It felt very abrasive and made me think that maybe rolling off some of the high end might be good. To be honest I would roll all the guitars down a db or two as they are a little overpowering. 

Your vocals dont sound bad to me but the spoken parts arent very audible. They sound quite boxy and could maybe benefit from EQing to make them more top endy and bring them up in the mix a little. The main "black metal" vocals could maybe do with going up a notch in the mix as well. 

There is definitely a cool Emperor-esque feeling to this (the bits that are full bore metal obviously). Puts me in mind of In the Nightside Eclipse.

Anyway - thats my thoughts after a couple of listens. 

Cheers
#3
KailM 

Unfortunately I don't have a full piece for you to critique so don't consider this a full review. I felt bad seeing so few replies on this thread.

Anyway, the atmospherics at the start are nice. I can see the tone you were going for, but I don't think it has enough "bite" to it, maybe try capturing a bit more of the modern Exodus tone (e.g., see the tones on Exhibit B). Probably too much bass is my guess. The next interlude is also very good, and the refrain of the short interlude piece you wrote a while ago is a nice touch. I wouldn't fade to absolute silence though near 7:13, instead I would start slowly incorporating parts from the next riff, start modulating the classical guitar to be more dissonant, adding in some of those parallel minor progressions in, and then kick into that riff. Some of the synths from the start would help too. In the outro where there are no drums, the tone actually sounds a lot closer to what I described, perhaps it is the mix that needs a bit of work. You probably have some masking frequencies near the low mids, which can be rectified with some clever complementary EQ.

I've got about a gazillion epics I'm working on at the moment and it's hard to make progress but I'll come back to give a full review if I get it ready soon enough.
#4
Quote by HaydenHohns
KailM

Unfortunately I don't have a full piece for you to critique so don't consider this a full review. I felt bad seeing so few replies on this thread.

Anyway, the atmospherics at the start are nice. I can see the tone you were going for, but I don't think it has enough "bite" to it, maybe try capturing a bit more of the modern Exodus tone (e.g., see the tones on Exhibit B). Probably too much bass is my guess. The next interlude is also very good, and the refrain of the short interlude piece you wrote a while ago is a nice touch. I wouldn't fade to absolute silence though near 7:13, instead I would start slowly incorporating parts from the next riff, start modulating the classical guitar to be more dissonant, adding in some of those parallel minor progressions in, and then kick into that riff. Some of the synths from the start would help too. In the outro where there are no drums, the tone actually sounds a lot closer to what I described, perhaps it is the mix that needs a bit of work. You probably have some masking frequencies near the low mids, which can be rectified with some clever complementary EQ.

I've got about a gazillion epics I'm working on at the moment and it's hard to make progress but I'll come back to give a full review if I get it ready soon enough.

Thanks Hayden.  I'll consider revisiting that section near 7:13.  You are correct in that in at least this mastered version, there is some masking of the guitar tone and it doesn't really sound exactly the way it does in the mix.  It is probably a failure on my part to preserve the sound I so carefully crafted in the mixing stage when I went to master it.  Namely, in the mix version, the guitars sound noticeably clearer and the grind of the mids stands out -- but when I add compression and limiting it seems to amplify the bass and low-mids of both the guitars and bass guitars.  I think that maybe the bass guitar is a bit too high in the mix, and maybe that's what's contributing to the un-clarity and bite of the guitars once the whole thing is brought up to a "mastered" level.  I'm definitely not trying to win any "loudness wars" points, but it seems that every time I try to raise the volume of my finished tracks I end of sacrificing a lot of the hard work I did in composing, recording, and mixing.  

I somehow accomplished my idea of a great master on my song "The Gathering of Hosts/Fist of the Heavens," but I have been unable to match that track since.  Somehow it has punchy low end in all the right places, the guitars sound huge and rich without getting muddy, and drums sit perfectly in the mix.  Part of me wonders if some of my struggles are due to quad-tracking.  In some places in "Black Epoch", I have even more than 4 guitar tracks on rhythm sections -- and though they are time-aligned properly, I'm wondering if it's actually hurting my tone by building up too much thickness.
Last edited by KailM at Apr 15, 2017,
#5
I would forget about any extreme mastering. On a limiter, I would never go lower than -3 dB and that's the extreme end of it. Steven Wilson often preserved the dynamics of the bands he mastered so listen to some of his music for an idea of what is IMO, good mastering. You should definitely keep the dynamics, overproduced music is overrated (not saying that your music is).

Also I have not implemented quad-tracking guitars in a very long time, so probably all of what you have listened to from me is double-tracked. If I were you, I would probably reserve quad-tracking for sections that really need the thickness, and have relatively simple parts.