Attention metal heads! Dundalk-based metallers Words That Burn released their new single “Before The Fall” via BandCamp over the weekend. And it kicks serious ass.
For me personally, the song brings the likes of Primordial to mind. The excellent production showcases the band as a mature and highly-polished unit with plenty of edge and energy expertly performed. Catchy guitar hooks, tight as hell bass and drums, excellent lyrics and a savage vocal performance make this latest release the bands finest output to date. I love the fabulous contrasting middle eight for the well-considered, layered vocal harmonies- the lower register of Ronan’s vocal gets me every time.
The band’s next major gig is at PhilFest 2014 in Fibbers, Parnell St, Dublin (Sunday the 29th of June)- a 2-day heavy metal event with a fantastic lineup for a mere €5 per day- you’d be bonkers to miss it!
Last night saw the kick off of another promising year for original heavy metallers, Black Svan in the recently renovated Boggers Lounge, Ardee, Co. Louth. Metal heads from the surrounding area united to hear the sheer force of music that is Black Svan and Slayer tribute band, Slayar. The bar was filled an assortment of old school, heavy metal t-shirts, Slayer, Exodus, Motorhead to name a few.
Tight, furious, authentic and LOUD Black Svan powered through a 45 minute set of selected material from their wildly anticipated debut album which is due for release this Spring.
I personally loved the set and my particular favourite was “Steal Your Crown” , a Svan classic I’ve actually never heard before! I loved the melodic, clean guitar intro which broke into a sheer wall of RIFF, Black Svan style! “Dream Forever” was also a personal favourite, I loved the way the pounding drum intro came in straight after the almighty “Sickness”. “Immortal”, possibly the bands’ heaviest number, was tight as hell. “16 Minutes” was also pretty awesome! Since finishing the recording of their album, Black Svan have been putting in long hours rehearsing and honing their material and it certainly has paid off. The band has never sounded so huge and epic!
If you’re not familiar with the epic force of sound that is Black Svan and you call yourself a metalhead, go forth on YouTube NOW and wrap your ears around “Immortal” and “16 Minutes”! This is how heavy metal should sound!
Party over here! I have completed my 3 recording sessions for my music production project “December”, written and composed by Keith Caffrey and myself, featuring Shane Taaffe on cajon and Ciarán O’Brien on double bass.
Monday morning was my last 3 hour studio session, I had 3 blocks of 3 hour sessions over a 6 week period to record the song. Time was extremely valuable and every minute counted in these sessions (especially when the song itself is 5:02 long, one take alone eats up 5 minutes…).
In this final studio session we recorded the lead vocal (Keith Caffrey), my backing vocal (thanks to my assistant Shauna Kearney for engineering for me here!) and a rainmaker. The session was the most relaxed (for me at least!) and though we kept a sharp watch on the clock, we were not under as much time pressure as the previous sessions.
Although it wasn’t ideal to record vocals at 9am, it had to be done and Keith was warming up his voice from 6.30am. The set up was simple- a Neumann U87 with pop shield and reflection filter going through the Audient ASP 8024 to Pro Tools. It would have been ideal to record with compression because there is a broad dynamic range in the vocal performance but as we’re still in early days, the compressor wasn’t patched in. We recorded some takes adjusting the gain for the loud and soft parts and also recorded the contrasting sections separately. It did occur to me after the session that I could have set up an AKG C414 right up beside the U87 on a separate track and adjust the gains of each microphone, so one would have a lower gain than the other. Hindsight! Every day is a school day…
Nonetheless I got what I needed committed to Pro Tools. Using the same set up with a tad extra gain I laid down my backing vocal, taking care to double up. Backing vocals are not a requirement of this project but one of the defining sounds of Shock Sorrow (myself and Keith) is our vocal blending. My sweet, soft voice is a nice contrast to Keith’s powerful and deep rock voice.
The rainmaker was the next recording- we set up 2 AKG C414s (mono tracks, cardioid pattern, no filter), and recorded the gentle sway of the falling beads during the intro and outro, this is a nice falling rain-like sound as opposed to a rhythm. I have two rainmakers, one bamboo and one plastic, the bamboo one was the rainmaker of choice as it sounded much more organic and watery! The plastic one sounded like a hail storm!
With 15 minutes to spare before wrap up time (once the clock strikes 12 we had to be out- mic’s put back into their cases, cables tidy, stands collapsed, wrap up time had to occur at 11.45), we recorded 2 lead vocal ad lib tracks for fun. I was impressed with Keith’s improvisation, counter harmonies, whispers and echoes. He gave me so much good stuff I can’t bear to edit them! 😀
Later that afternoon after my last lecture, myself and Shauna headed to our beautiful, ambient Winter Garden in the college building. The Winter Garden is probably my favourite place to hang out between classes for it’s greenery and general peace and quiet!
I had my own recording set up with me- Macbook Pro (with Pro Tools 10), Cakewalk UA25 EX audio interface, Samson S-Amp and Rode NTK microphone. I wanted to record a couple of extra tracks to see if they might work in the project- violin and small djembe drum. I wanted the massive natural reverb so I placed my microphone in the middle of the garden and stood about 8 feet away.
I actually didn’t play my own violin (the Chinese violin my parents bought for my 13th birthday- too long ago!!!) although it did sound really nice. One of my lecturers actually loaned me his 100 year old German violin for the recording! I’m honoured to have played this violin and even more honoured that I’m the first person ever to have actually recorded it! Not even my lecturer has recorded it! It was beautiful. Beautifully smooth and amazing tone. It was slightly smaller than my own violin (it wasn’t 3/4 size but just slightly smaller than full size) and as light as feather.
I played the djembe for the first time in my life (it’s been sitting in my house for years as a decoration!), I just wanted the simple accents, “snap” sounds with that lovely reverb. It actually sounded really lovely and different! My right hand is in absolute bits, 3 lovely bruises on the insides of my fingers! But definitely worth it!
We actually spent 3 hours in the Winter Garden, it was busier than I thought it would be and most takes were spoiled by the noise of people opening doors, walking by, chatting, cleaners hoovering, you name it, I heard it through the sensitive Rode mic! I did expect such noise in the public space and it was really after 5pm that we started recording “clean” tracks.
I was absolutely shattered after all this but after 2 hours of chilling out at home I was back in Pro Tools, editing and starting the first rough mix until the small hours. Of course the point of the project is to not fix anything in the mix but I did need to comp the vocals and go through the violin takes while it was fresh in my mind. All I have left to do is some fades, an micro edit here and there and adjust the mix balance.
Then the write up… 😉
So expect to hear the final mix of “December” on my SoundCloud in… December!
I must be getting old or I must just be a hard worker! After the 3 hour session in the studio this morning, I was left absolutely exhausted for the rest of the day! Teehee! Only now, at 11pm after a long, hot shower and a couple of headache tablets do I feel like my normal self again! 😀
Studio session number 2 for “December” went fantastically well! In short I got everything I hoped to record committed to virtual tape/disk/the digital land that is Pro Tools! 😀
I recorded 3rd Year Applied Music student Ciarán O’Brien first thing this morning. Ciarán is an expert in all things bass! Armed with a double bass and a bow, Ciarán gave me unexpected goosebumps, I couldn’t help but squeal with the sheer audio-pleasure! Hehehe! I literally could have listened to that all day long. But time was precious so we had to get to business straight away and track pizzicato bass for “December”. We had to keep a very strict schedule as I only had 3 hours from the minute I entered the studio to the minute the gear is checked off when I wrap up! So working quickly, I set up a Neumann U87 about 14 inches away from the bridge of the bass. Time was ticking faster than I thought and we got 4 takes (20 minutes-the song is 5 minutes long). I will have to comp a little here and there but I’m absolutely delighted with what Ciarán played. He’s a little star, a pleasure to work with, very professional!
Next was the recording of my own 12 string acoustic guitar. My assistants Shauna Kearney and Shane Taaffe were absolutely brilliant help here. They set up my microphones as I required; an AKG C414 in a corner, cardioid pattern, 1 overhead, omni-directional for some room ambience and a Shure SM57 at the 12th fret. A sparkly 12 string with some bass presence. The corner idea may seem odd but trust me, the warmth it offered works in the production.
In case you were wondering, Shane played the guitar in the style of the song while I monitored the sound in the control room and asked Shauna to move the mic here and there, an inch or two closer etc! Only after I was happy, did I sit down (on my cajon actually, brought it with me just to sit on it-best seat in the house for guitar playing!) while took over the recording process for me.
Ever watchful of the ticking time, I spent exactly 30 minutes tracking my part. The only problem I had was of my own right hand on one part which decided to have a mind of its own, when I got over that, we had a few takes which I will comp together later.
Following that was Keith’s 6 string guitar parts using the same multi mono mic set up. Keith owns a gorgeous Tanglewood jumbo guitar which a lovely bass presence. His parts are complimentary to mine, filling in single strums for the chorus’s (two separate takes, one left and one right for the mix-down), an arpeggiated fill for the final chorus and of course the big solo. Keith was so in the zone he played the main rhythm and solo in the same take, much to my delight and the ticking clocks! The arpeggiated fill took the longest to record like myself, one finger refused to be told where to go! It happens to us all huh? 🙂 But Keith is also a pro and nailed it.
Looking at the watch, 20 minutes left? Let’s record one more thing before we leave! Pop the Shure SM57 in front of the Marshall Valve-State combo (to one side of the cone), whip out that Fender American Stratocaster, plug in the Boss DD6 Digital Delay pedal and pop that bottleneck slide on your finger please Keith! Make me some noise, anything at all! Soulful cries of a Strat, yes, this is an element I wanted indeed for that final chorus.
Ten minutes left…. tidy up, fast! All hands on deck as we backed up the project, tidied away the mic stands, leads, guitars etc! Bang ont he stroke of midday we were ready to hand over the studio to the next session team!
Not a single minute was idle and I have to thank my production team for working so hard, they deserve a well earned drink! Thank you Keith Caffrey and Ciarán O’ Brien for your artistic skills, very creative and especially appreciated before 12 Midday! Morning studio sessions are never easy! 🙂 Thank you Shauna Kearney and Shane Taaffe for the technical side, you were both stars and complete professionals with the equipment!
So next to do on the list is some minor edits and minor comping. Then we get ready for our last session in 2 weeks time where we nail the lead vocal, harmony vocal and creative element track! 😀
And after that? A small mix and Christmas drinks! 😉
It’s only 7.30pm and I’m exhausted! I can barely keep my eyes open but it’s all good, today was a lot of fun! Session 1 of the 3 part music production project was a great success!
As I mentioned in last night’s blog, I aimed to record guide vocal, guitar and cajon in today’s 3 hour recording session. It was a busy morning and not without obstacles but we successfully recorded guide vocal, guide guitar and complete cajon.
The main problem was with the lack of sound in one of the studio monitors. No matter what we tried, no sound would come through and the studio technician said the problem was certainly not a faulty connection or lead but within the desk itself and would take time to fix! So instead of abandoning the session we carried on with one monitor and trusted our DT100’s.
Another slight obstacle but definitely one worth the trouble- the patch connections for the live room were all taken out of the patch bay! Only through setting gain levels did we figure out where exactly to plug in! Trial and error! Well worth it.
So with these minor inconveniences sorted we ploughed on! My plan was to record the cajon in the live room using two AKG-C414’s and AKG-D112 and set up the guide vocal in the control room with a Shure Beta 58 and guide guitar with a Shure Beta 57.
From the above picture one can see an AKG 414 in front of the cajon to capture the snare sound, the D112 at the sound hole in the back for the bass and there is also an AKG 414 to Shane’s left capturing the room sound.
Thanks to pre-production sessions we had already settled on a tempo of 103BPM so I had a shaker track made up to serve as a click track. This actually turned out to be a hindrance and distraction so the song was played live without the click track and the second take was “the one”.
By this stage it was already 11.15am (45 minutes left already!) and we decided we would at least try to record the 12 string acoustic guitar. Initially I set up the microphones in the middle of the room (AKG 414 above the sound hole, Shure Beta 57 at the 12th fret and AKG 414 directly behind the guitar- the guitar tends to lack bass and placing the microphone here added bass).
After quick evaluation of this sound, we agreed the sound wasn’t quite warm enough. How do you get more bass from a non-bassy instrument? I suggested moving the guitar closer to a wall and mic-ing from there- my trust assistant Shauna Kearney did one better and suggested we set up in a corner! She quickly took down the makeshift bass trap of rockwool and triangular foam in a cardboard box, placed two foam panels either side of the corner and a small panel on top of these, making a cosy house for one of the 414’s. Now with the guitar facing out towards the room, the higher frequencies were allowed travel out and the bass frequencies were instantly projected into the corner, like magic, an instant warmth was apparent as well as that shimmering top end I like my Ibanez 12 string for.
Alas time was not on our side and with pressure mounting to get the right take in time before the next students came in for their slotted time, I was unsuccessful in getting a full track. I was not disappointed as we found a good microphone set up for the guitar that we could easily assemble again!
Session 2 is in 2 weeks time, another 3 hour session. Of course I will have to draw up my plans again for this session as I need to make time to record the acoustic guitars as well as double bass.
Session 3 is in 4 weeks time, another 3 hour session and in this session I will record the lead vocal and additional percussion and perhaps a Yamaha upright piano.
So very tired now! But my own music production project is not the only one in my schedule, I will be assisting Shauna Kearney in her production (and playing any instruments she needs to compliment her singer/songwriter Lauren Murphy- I recorded Lauren last Christmas for a similar project!) AND I am playing violin for my classmate, hip-hop producer Scott McLoughlin!
It’s great to be busy in music! My special thanks to the wonderful musicians who made today happen- Keith Caffrey, Shane Taaffe and Shauna Kearney. And thanks to the studio tech! 🙂
This week’s blog is a discussion of my favourite and least favourite genre of music. Let’s start with my favourite musical genre- rock!
I have been a fan of rock music since I was 15 years old when I became friends with a girl who was already a huge fan. She introduced me to the music of Led Zeppelin and I became completely absorbed in their music very quickly. At the time I was starting to learn electric guitar and this music inspired me greatly to play and progress.
Not long after this, she introduced me to the music of Metallica, the first song I heard was “The Unforgiven” and I fell in love immediately with the gorgeous Spanish guitar introduction and the hard, heavy verses. I had never heard Metallica before this and I remember being so shocked that the band I had always thought of as being the hardest, heaviest, scariest band in the world, could compose something so haunting and deeply beautiful. This was the real turning point in my musical taste and I became completely obsessed with everything Metallica related!
This newly discovered passion for heavy music inspired me to seek out other similar hard rock bands including Rammstein and other forms of rock music. Nu-metal in particular dominated the heavy metal magazines Metal Hammer and Metal Edge and television channels Kerrang! and Scuzz back then. It was mostly through these television channels that I discovered new rock music. The Internet had little or no role in my discovery of music, back then I had only a dial-up connection and wasn’t really allowed to be online anyway!
I still enjoy rock music very much and in particular the music of Metallica and Rammstein. I find their style of music appealing for many reasons, starting with their guitars. I have a deep appreciation for their guitar skills and sounds. I love their style of playing, those chug-chug, heavy, fat riffs, yes they are mechanical and rigid but that appeals greatly to me (see “Devil’s Dance” from Metallica’s 1997 Reload album YouTube link below). I also love their clean, shimmering guitars, always rich in beautiful chords. Rock music in essence is guitar-driven music and that is the number one reason I listen to so much of it.
I usually like the vocal styles of rock singers, I like how grainy and edgey vocalist’s sound and how they combine great, catchy melodies with anthemic phrases. Usually the lyrics stand for something and mean something deep. Take this Fozzy track below for this melodic, rock vocal combined with excellent guitar riffage and those shimmering guitar sounds:
I am a huge fan of hard rock audio production, I love the full wall-of-guitars sound, the huge drum kit with the clear kick drum and cracking snare drum, the raw vocal and warm bass.
Apart from the musical characteristics and audio production of rock music, I’ve always liked the image that came with it. I like the alternative and rebellious fashion combined with moody facial expressions. Full of attitude.
Since my awakening to rock music, I have always viewed this genre as an authentic one. Bands that write and play their own music is greatly important to me and this is of course, the fundamental element in rock bands. Bands work as a unit, they eat, sleep, breathe their own music and work extremely hard to finish their albums. Similar to the indie bands as discussed in this week’s tutorial, rock band members are friends and are from the working class, these being more key elements of their authenticity.
Now on to my least favourite genre of music! This probably comes as a shock considering my favourite genre of music is rock, but I really can’t tolerate death metal! Sorry to all you lovers of death metal! I mean no disrespect in any way! It is simply a genre of music I don’t “get”.
The number one reason I dislike this genre of music is the vocal technique. I can never understand any of the lyrics and I dislike the lack of lead vocal melody, but of course, the music itself doesn’t allow for lead vocal melodies because of the genre defining speedy, frantic guitar riffing and pounding drumming. I don’t like the deep, screaming style. Even when the music itself is down tempo and actually appeals to me, the vocal style just doesn’t work for me. I can’t listen to it. I also don’t like the imagery the bands portray, I find them scary and sometimes grotesque.
Being a rock fan, I can certainly relate to the fans of this style of music though! I appreciate the incredible skill of the musicians who perform these complex riffs and masterclass techniques, I understand the hours upon hours of practise these musicians put into their rehearsals and I marvel at their abilities. I’m sure the fans love death metal for these reasons and probably also for the fact that these bands are real people making their own music, just like my favourite rock musicians. Death metal is every bit as authentic as rock music in my personal opinion.
I’m back and I have returned with my off-white Fender Stratocaster playing good old fashioned rock n roll music with the ultimate party band: the Full Moon Boogie Band!
Full Moon Boogie Band, the name says it all – bringing you home to the land of rockabilly and rock and roll with a twist and lots of style!
We are a five piece band,made up of passionate, energetic and professional musicians, playing songs from Elvis to Rihanna, Wanda Jackson to Beyoncé, all with a full moon rock n roll flavour.
We are currently available for bookings. Our show is fantastic entertainment for any event, from weddings to corporate events, we shall bring fun and a bop shoo wop to your event. We come with our own swingin, jivin’ and very alluring Full Moon dancers to add that extra sparkle to the show.
We have a full PA, Sound engineer and DJ that can be included. Also softer ceremony music can be included as part of the package.
For bookings and info, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/fullmoon.boogieband 🙂
A WOP BAM A LU WOP A WOP BAM BOO!!!
NEXT SHOW: THE BURLESQUE AND CABARET SEPTEMBER SHOW!