Alien Lard 5/5 - More or Less, But Mainly More

EDIT #1: Alrighty. Went back and made a few changes:

  • Re balanced the drums and tried to make the snare less weak
  • Re balanced chorus vocals to make them less smeary (do I need to re-record? The reverb you hear is room, no plug ins! Recorded very hot!)
  • Adjusted the bass (thanks Big Clipper)
  • A few other small adjustments

Is it any different? Does it still need some work? I’m happy with raw and loose on this project but it still needs aggression and power too.
Thanks in advance.

Soooo close to the end I can almost taste it. Here is the final song of my 5 song Alien Lard project, “More or Less, But Mainly More”.
Whatever the last song I work on is usually my favourite until I work on another, but I think this the best of the bunch. It’s the reason I posed a question in a thread a while back about leading with your best song, but as it stands, I think this makes a great closer (and I prefer “'Nam” as an opener anyway).
EDIT: Having just listened on a few different sets of systems, I hear a few things - vocals too loud again and the bass is too loud in the middle of the song too. There seems to also be a few syllables poking past the mastering compressor, mainly on the word “Gettin’” in the chorus.

Anyway, as usual, thoughts and feedback are appreciated.

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Hi Dan, I’m not hearing such an issue with the loud vocal here, TBH. I think the vocal sits pretty well actually.

What I think needs help is the drums - they are sounding rather squashed - like the limiting is robbing them of attack and punch. That may create the impression that the vocal is “bigger”, perspective wise, than the drums.

In any case, what I would suggest is trying some of the tactics I’ve posted about here.

The thread as whole, got way off track, to say the least, but I believe this is a vital tactic for retaining transient punch, and the perception of micro-dynamics in modern drum heavy music.

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I like the beat you created that begins the song. It’s a little different than the typical beats that you normally hear. I also really like your use of drum fills and drum rhythms. Your guitar and bass rhythms also gyrate nicely with the drums. My favourite guitar/ bass riff in this song is the opening riffs at the beginning and what you use again in the chorus. That has a somewhat Black Sabbath vibe. Many bands have been influenced by that style of Sabbath riffing. I’m not sure if you’re into that old Sabbath music but it’s possible that you may have been indirectly influenced through some other more modern bands. I like it !!!

I read what Andrew mentioned about the drums and vocals. I think I’d agree with him in that the vocals don’t seem too loud. There are a few parts where the vocals seem a bit more “smeared” than I would prefer them to be. I know you have some fairly big distortion on the voice for effect and I think the distortion/ overdriven vocal has a bit of a tendency to get smeared (a bit messy) when you’re singing in the shouting parts. I like the distortion effect and it’s cool with this style of music but I might consider trying to get those vocal parts a bit neater/ tidier. Don’t abandon the distortion though. I can think of 3 factors that may be causing this “smearing” that I mentioned.

  1. It may be caused by a loud vocal performance into the mic (high SPL hitting the mic and maybe overdriving it) combined with the overdriven effect.

  2. It may be #1 mentioned above, combined with double tracked vocals

  3. If the vocals are doubled and they are a bit loose, when you’ve combine any or all of the other factors it might create a more audible smear. I can’t tell if the vocal double is loose though because of the overdriven vocal and the smear.

Now having said all that, you should be aware that I’m picking at a small aspect of the song and I’m not sure if others will pick up the same things that I hear. I suspect that it won’t consciously effect the listeners listening experience all that much and maybe not at all. I mean, I like it as it is, but it was just a small thing that slightly grabbed me and made me ask myself, “Could this sound a bit better?” All my guesses as to what is causing the “smear” on the higher and louder vocal shouts are just guesses. You’d probably have a good idea as to what is causing the smear that I speak of because you know how the dry vocal tracks sound, you know if the doubles are tight, and if your mic may have been overloaded during your performance.

I like the “whoa whoa whoa” on the chorus panned to either side, with the main vocal in the middle. Sounds good.

When the bass came in on the intro it made the snare drum sound a little small and then when the guitars came in they seemed a bit smaller still. That kick works though. Seems like sometimes the snare sounds good and powerful but then in other spots it loses a bit of power. That’s really the nature of the way the riffs and the drums interact though and once again I don’t think it’s a big problem. Maybe some automation when it feels that the snare needs a boost. Maybe a slight bit of high mids or high frequencies will make the snare shine a bit more, also. The drums can lose some of that snap if they’re compressed too heavily.

All my nitpicks are just that, nitpicks. I’m being a bit overly critical. This is a cool song! Seems somewhat more progressive than the other songs in the Alien Lard project.

I REALLY want to hear your full Alien Lard project as a whole album because I have this obsession with judging and comparing songs with one another (one and other). I want to weigh them against each other and try to list them from favourite to least favourite. I do this with my own songs all the time. I realize it’s a very subjective thing and often it can be really difficult to choose favourites between songs that you really like.

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Yeah, I found it ok on all but one speaker set, so I just defaulted to what feedback I’ve received on the others so far and assumed they were too loud.

The drums are a funny one. I use eMastered for my mastering and generally I am really pleased with the results overall, but I have noticed on all Alien Lard songs, the snare in particular seems to get squashed and almost feel pushed back. I may fiddle with the mastering settings and reduce the compression to see what happens. eMastered’s settings are quite basic and limited, which I think is a good thing, but the snare is definitely more up front on the pre-mastered mix.

I have read that post a few times but admittedly didn’t really think about it during this project. An easy step to try though!

Thanks although that beat is actually from a MIDI pack for EZ drummer. I won a lot of those MIDI packs as a song writing tool and then usually my drummer plays in a similar vein or changes it completely. In this case, I found the beat was perfect for the choruses and so I kept them as is. My drummer then played along on a separate track and I sliced in his fills to give it more feel.

Both. Whilst not a Sabbath “fanatic” as such, I know plenty of and about them, own some vinyl and saw them maybe 10 years ago. I know their place in the foundations of heavy metal and know that most if not all can be traced back to them (and of course, Zep and Deep Purple).

You are BANG ON about the smearing and your 3 reasons why. It would be all three reasons!
I recorded the vocals VERY hot on my Golden Age Pre 73 preamp to get clipping going in. That’s reason one. I also found (which is something I will change next Alien Lard release) that due to the volume I am singing and the cranked up pre (plus compression afterwards) that I was capturing LOTS of my room. Normally this is not an issue but I may need to pull back on the pre amp gain and set up more baffling to at least get that more under control. Once you through in the double vocal, that’s a lot of room noise and reflections that I can’t control even if I wanted to.

In this case, I’m not overly worries about the smearing in regards to the double vocal. Partly, I’m not trained or practiced enough in that style of vocal to be able to replicate it too closely. Secondly, I was going for more of a live feel so the imperfections are part of it. But at the same time, i don’t want it to be making it hard or unpleasant to listen to either.

Yeah, see the comment above re the snare and the mastering software. Something I need to look into.

I will gladly be sharing it here once it’s out and would love to hear your thoughts, rankings, whatever. Always just pleased that someone listens to anything I do, as I am sure many of us are.

Thanks again for the wonderfully insightful and detailed comments!

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I’ve made some changes and added the newest version in the top post. But I am finding it hard to tell if I have made the elements discussed better, worse or the same.

Any thoughts?

Man, my ears might be shot because I’m having trouble hearing any obvious differences between the two mixes.

At first I was certain that the snare was much snappier and cutting through more on the second MP3 file but I’ve been going back and forth between the two and now I can’t say for certain. I wasn’t sure if the vocals were different either (I mainly focused on the doubled chorus vocals).

Damn, I’m not much of a help with this one. Maybe I have to come back to this with fresh ears.

I enjoyed hearing this again and I think I’m appreciating it more with each listen. I like the bits of feedback and how you’ve got that heavy metal sludge or grunge feel…Kind of Industrial…Not grunge as in 90’s Grunge Rock…Grunge as in overdriven, heavy and dirty, but all in a good way.

Are the lyrics referring to your musical journey? “I’ve been spitting out bits since 1994”. “I’m more than happy with the theft, because without these stolen goods I’d likely have nothing left”. Those are very relatable words for writers and musicians. I also like the line, “We’re too stupid and stubborn to ever pack it in”. I relate to that…It almost feels like you’re talking about me, never giving up on my musical dream, haha. This whole song vibe and lyrics make me imagine a guy who’s been working on his music for decades and though his venture is hopeless and fruitless, he just continues to fight for success.

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You have me slightly paranoid that I may have posted the same file twice!!! I’ll have to check!

You are 100% correct about the content. It is about my musical journey and development and a reflection on us as creatives. There are two songs regarding this on the ep.
Yep, stolen goods are riffs and lyrics we borrow from the bands and artists we respect. The first few lines are about my lyrics, which unless parodies, I feel are often superfluous, meta, banal or asinine. Seems easy for every one else.
Spot on about the stupid or stubborn line too and that is me as well, as well as most folks in this caper I’d imagine.

The song was never going to be self referential but I decided on the title very early on and ‘94 kept coming up when making up random sentences for rhyming with “more” and that was the year I started playing and making tunes do it seemed fitting. So, obviously went meta on this one! :wink:

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