Bash "Toxic Ocean"

Hey folks, I’m interested in hearing people’s opinions of this song, recording and production. I wrote it sometime around 1996 - 1997. Me and my brothers would perform it at our “original” gigs and occasionally at our “cover” gigs back in the late 90’s and throughout the first half of the 2000’s.

Critique everything and anything that you observe here, including the song, the performance, the recording, mix, overall production and anything else that has to do with it. I’m just wondering how others view this one. Thanks!


Pretty slow in this here forum. Great guitar tone and riff. I miss this. That riff down in the 50’s = too many? I Like what is goin on at two minutes. there you go again with that riff down. ha ha
Great singing/convincing. Man does this bring me back. I need a beer…good stuff bud

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Thanks, Paul. Glad you like it.

Yes, I’ve noticed that too. It seems unusually quiet here, lately. Doesn’t seem to be as many members online as there usually are. Maybe us people from the northern hemisphere are outside, enjoying the sun more these days. It’s been hot as hell, up here in Toronto, Canada these last few days. Could be that people have gotten restless from the COVID lockdowns and now they want to be outside more, also. Lots of people are getting vaccinated, so they probably feel the perceived freedom that comes with that.

I’m not certain what you mean, Paul. Can you elaborate?

I feel the same way! This weather feels like mid-summer temperatures. It’s perfect beer drinking weather.v

Thanks for your comments! Let’s hope the forum picks up again!

Hi W. I’ll throw in my 2c… This track has a real industrial hard rock vibe.

It all sounds pretty spot on for the genre. The only thing that needs a little work to my ears in terms of sonics is the lead vocal in the verses. There is a boxy resonance in the midrange somewhere that builds up with the double-tracked vocal that needs reducing - Maybe around the 500-600hz mark (I’m guessing). It just makes the vocal sound a little “inexpensive”. The vocal doesn’t seem to have the same problem in the chorus, though.

In terms of arrangement, I think the instrumental riffing section prior to the first chorus needs taking out. It messes up the flow of the song IMO. It might work better later in the song, when you have already built anticipation and the listener is expecting the chorus, but I think even then, it could be half the length.

Overall it sounds really tight and punchy though.

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I’ll give that a listen and see what I can do with it. Good to have other’s ears on this because I didn’t notice that resonance. Could be that it shows up in the verse because the vocals are lower and deeper in that section. At some point I’ll try cutting some mids and/ or lower mid frequencies to see what it sounds like.

Hmm, that might be something to consider. I’ve always liked that part but it could be that I’ve been hearing it played that way for so long that I’ve lost perspective. Hopefully others will chime in regarding that.

Thanks for sharing your ear and taking the time to listen, Andrew! @ColdRoomStudio

Great song! I immediately got the sense of perhaps a Judas Priest and Accept influence, plus probably many others. I just really like the song so not much to critique. The drums come in really awesome sounding, great fills. Later on there are some parts, like verses, where the kick sounds kind of drum-machiney in its perfection, and I don’t know if its the high tone of it or a slapback reverb on it or something, but it did poke out a bit. Still listening, it may be that the hi-hat and kick are playing the same part and that’s what I’m hearing. It’s like hi-hat plus kick “click” high frequency. I guess you could say too much resonance or masking or something … like there’s two parts or instruments there but they sound like one. Anyway, just something I noticed that was a bit distracting after listening a few times.

So did you rerecord this recently, or is it an old recording from way back? It sounds like it could be fairly recent to my ears, based on other things you have posted.

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Hey Stan, @Stan_Halen I was hoping you’d check out this song because I thought this is stylistically along the lines of what you listened to in your formative years and it’s a style you have an appreciation for. Really glad you like it!

I can see some stylistic similarities. As you know I was/ am a fan of Priest and I liked some Accept music too. I thought Accept’s album Balls To The Wall, was a classic and they had some decent stuff on some of their other albums. Their singer, Udo, had a crazy, wild voice!

Often times when I’m writing a song I’ll consciously be aware of any direct influences that I’m borrowing from but I don’t remember feeling any conscious influence for this song. I seem to remember thinking that it was current sounding at the time I wrote it but I do think there’s a bit of a Sabbath, Priest and other early metal band influence. Maybe some early/ mid nineties metal too…, bands like Alice In Chains and Faith No More, though it probably doesn’t really sound much like them. I had never thought about Accept being an influence but now that you mention it, I do see some similarities.

Ah, it’s interesting that you mention that because I was thinking someone might mention the hi hats specifically. I thought I might have brought them up too loud in the mix.

For this song I used EZ Drummer and painstakingly wrote out the midi notes to replicate what my brother played on drums when we performed this live. I added a few of my own fills in some of the choruses and I subtracted some of my brother’s over-the-top drum soling during the chorus (he used to overplay the chorus part by swamping it with drum fills, haha). I always felt that it was a touch too much (no AC/DC pun there…haha). At the time of recording this song my brother wasn’t available to do the tracks and we didn’t have his full kit set up in my basement, so I decided to get it done with EZ Drummer…Wasn’t easy at all though! It took a long time. I also needed my brothers help to recreate the fills that you hear in the musical break before each chorus. I did this in the spring of 2018, so yes it’s a more current recording. There was a ton of tweaking I did to the drums because I just wasn’t satisfied with the sounds of EZ Drummer. You could very well be right about the kick and the hi hats sounding a bit like one instrument. That might be what was bothering me about it, though I was thinking it was the loud hi hats. Could be there’s some frequency masking. That’s something I’ll have to check out next time I open this project in Reaper.

You’re correct. It was done in 2018.

Thanks for giving this a listen and taking the time to comment, Stan!

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Mainly the first guitar riff made me think of them. After that it sounds more like Priest, and perhaps a certain era of Sabbath. Some other things too. I just noticed the pulsating synth at the end of the song (right channel). I don’t think I ever heard synths in your other stuff. It was a nice build up to the sudden stop.

There’s some good things about it, so I was just pointing it out. It’s like a droning sound that has an in-toxic -ating addictiveness. :wink: My ears just picked up on it from a technical standpoint to figure out what was causing it. I’m pretty sure it’s hi-hat + kick click, but I couldn’t tell you if the hi-hat was too loud due to resonance/masking. I’m sure you’ll hear it, but just for reference in choruses, for example 1:08 - 1:30 and 2:27 - 2:53.

It could have been an unconscious artistic choice. I can’t list how many times I have recorded or mixed something and thought to myself about a certain aspect of it “Well, I didn’t mean to do that, but it sure sounds cool.” :sunglasses:

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I’d be curious to hear back once you have looked at it, what you think. Like I said above, it may serve its role perfectly, so I wasn’t suggesting any change. It was more of a curiosity of “how is it making that sound?” And I always like to try to confirm my hunches and guesses about things.

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I understand your curiosity when it comes these kind of things in a mix. I’m the same way. It’s often difficult to know why a particular recording is producing a certain sound aesthetic if we don’t have the individual tracks for the song. It’s amazing how combining instruments can create aural illusions. Every instrument alters our perception of the other instruments that it’s mixed with.

I agree, Stan, it does sound like a synth, but it’s just fast guitar slides up and down the neck of the guitar. I always thought it sounded like synths too. This is an example of the “aural illusions” that I mentioned above. Then again, that guitar part probably sounds like a synth even when it’s solo’ d because it’s a somewhat unusual guitar technique.

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At first I thought maybe a heavily effected guitar sound, but then it sounded so much like a saw wave synth doing an oscillated octave jump.

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Yes, it really does sound like that. I’m kind of curious to hear those guitar tracks solo’d again, ever since you mentioned the way they sound. Maybe I’ll go into that Reaper project and make an MP3 of just those guitar tracks and I’ll post it here, so that you and others can hear those parts by themselves.

There’s another song I posted in BTR that has a guitar part that sounds like a synth too. It’s a very brief guitar lick about 3/4 of the way through the the song “Wishing You Well”. With that lick I used a guitar synth preset from my BOSS GT-8. Someone commented that it reminded them a bit of ELP and mentioned that synths might suit that song. I seem to remember choosing the synth patch because the guitar lick reminded me of a synthesizer lick.

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That would be great! If perchance you could do that with the hi-hat/kick sound while you’re in there, that would be really interesting too. Tracks together, tracks separate, and see how the resonance/masking might have been happening.

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Thanks! Hearing this separated from the track, it sounds like there was a fair amount of editing of the guitar recording to get it to sound that way. Is that an accurate assessment? Like editing the timing and crunching the riffs together. I may not be explaining what I mean very well. But maybe that’s what gives is that synth type sound is how the envelope sounds non-analogish.

Looking back on this thread, I see you said you used EZ Drummer on it. I wanted to ask what other drum programs you use on other songs. Do you use any particular one pretty consistently, or does it just really depend on the song?

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No. There wasn’t any editing or special effects. Zero. It’s just a guitar plugged straight in to the interface. I used the same guitar sim throughput the song. The reason you perceive a synth effect is because of the fast and wide slides. It’s an aural illusion.

I really don’t have any mixing or production tricks. No special effects whatsoever. The only thing I focus on is my performance as a musician. I hardly even use EQ, and even less often, compression. I’m very barebones and basic when it comes to mixing. That’s why I try to get the sound and performance right, right from the initial recording, right at the source.

I’ve only used EZ Drummer on this song and one other song that I did a few years ago. Most of the songs I record, I’m using either an acoustic kit (PDP)or my electronic kit (Yamaha pads and Alesis module). I’ve also used SSD (the free Steven Slate Drums). I never use drum presets. My drums are created by me because I want to write them just as I write the guitars, bass parts, vocals, etc. Why have prefabricated drum tracks while the rest of your music is actually your handy work. It’s like building a custom house but choosing to have a prefabricated basement. I wouldn’t feel like it’s completely my creation if I used templates of “‘ready made” drum beats and fills. To me that would be kind of like cheating and short changing myself. I cringe at those band-in-a-box type software programs. I don’t get how using that kind of thing would satisfy anyone as a writer/ musician/ creator.


Wow, that’s fantastic, Kudos!

I think that’s along the lines of a “purist” approach, and very admirable. I’m glad I asked because I find that philosophy interesting and I appreciate it. Drum programs are something I depend on, but I can understand it might seem like a cookie-cutter approach. Ironically, I started off as a drummer at a young age before picking up guitar & bass. I wouldn’t be averse to mic’ing an acoustic kit if I still had one. But I no longer actually ‘play’ the drums, other than my shaman (native) drum and some percussion pieces. I just got used to doing MIDI programming for the VI’s.

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Yup I love that. There are few artists that don’t use STUFF. ha ha I don’t know how to use midi, so I suck in that department. I have a nice electronic drum set but have only used it a few times on recordings. I usually grab an EZ or studio one and fly with it. You can tell listening that yur percush is special.
I miss recording. i can’t get my system up and running yet. Big time bummed. You ARE the real deal friend