I’ve seen it a lot in the last few years of gigging on bills with random bands, it’s still a thing.
Usually it sounds terrible, because at those speeds most drummers can’t hit the snare anywhere near as hard as in the rest of the song - there’s not enough time to lift the stick high enough for a decent swing. So they go from hard hitting rimshots to pathetically tapping the snare at the bit of the song that’s designed to have the most energy.
And it’s compounded by the way they also can’t quite play it fast enough, so they also start dragging and not hitting the snare and kick in unison.
Respectfully, this is partially incorrect. Yeah, there’s plenty of bands with drummers that can’t deal with playing blasts… in the studio there’s quantization of drum parts, sample-replacement to deal with weak hits etc… Once they’re playing live it falls apart.
Of major touring bands in these genres, that’s the rare exception. Look at guys like Mario Duplantier of Gojira, Gene Hoglan (Strapping Young Lad, Death, Fear Factory, etc…), Alex Rudinger of Good Tiger and Martin Axenrot of Opeth to name a few. These are guys that play this stuff live every night without any trickery or assistance and are SOLID.
We’ll always see bands with drummers that can barely keep up, but honestly that crosses all genres.
This would drive me nuts if I was a guitar player. I wonder if you could remedy this live by blending a trigger with the organic snare? Then by ramping up the bottom threshold of the sampled snare all the way to like 120 so there’s only a +4/-4 range of Midi values triggering the sample… or perhaps turning off the velocity range all together. It would require a FOH engineer that has their shit together though…Dunno man. Just brainstorming. Metal is so not my thing!
Tempo tricks generally aren’t used, at least to my knowledge. Plenty of bands play to backing tracks, but the drummer is usually on his/her own when it comes to time. I’m sure there’s triggering to cover weak hits, but that’s not something that gets talked about openly, and I would imagine the danger of false triggers keeps most from attempting it. Stuff like that is not looked upon favorably, which is funny considering most “modern” metal albums use samples in some way in the studio. Although again, the use of drums samples to reinforce hits is not an exclusive tool of metal productions.
What I hear in new metal is that Blast beats are the “default beats”. I just finished a gig with a pretty big country band that was using a snare trigger live. Triggers are everywhere. Metal is the only place it is considered “cheating”
Yeah when Billy was on Nail The Mix, that’s when I learned about the usage of samples in country. Was blown away at how fast he could mix something and have it come out super polished. He posts all the time in the NTM Facebook group, I think he gets a kick out of interacting with all the metal folks.
Its not that simple in country. These guys are really particular about the samples you blend into the organic sounds to match the originals. You’ll get a track send back and be like… “Dude…that’s not my drum set! …that thing doesn’t sound ANYTHING like the snare I brought in”. And then as soon as it sounds too processed, you start to get complaints as well. The other challenge is that once you reach a certain level, 9 out of 10 times, the tracking studio gets better tones than anything that you have in your libraries. I have some pretty massive libraries…but I always end up falling back on the raw source tracks. Samples just for a little added punch and articulation.
Interesting… Billy must have very different clients to you. Here are some direct quotes from the SOS article I linked above:
I never use the original kick, or blend it in. People don’t mind, because my samples sound like a real kick. Using the samples is another thing that speeds me up. I don’t have to battle with a real kick, gating it, cleaning it up, and so on.
“It’s similar with the snare. There are five snare tracks in this session. The top two are from the original session, ie. snare top and bottom mics, and the other three are my samples, in the order low-mid-high: ‘Fatty’, ‘HB’, and ‘13.06’. ‘Fatty’ has a lot of 160Hz, ‘HB’ stands for Howard Benson — it’s one of his — and ‘13.06’ is what gives a crack, it is almost like a click. Again, the plug-ins are part of my template. The SPL Transient designer on the ‘13.06’ snare makes it even crackier, the McDSP G Console on the ‘HB’ adds a little bit of EQ and a little bit of compression. I use a fast attack and a medium release, to make it snap more, that mid thing, and 3:1 compression, plus I am adding 15dB of 187Hz with the bell curve — I’ve always just turned EQs till they sounded good!
“Just like with the kick, I can adjust the plug-ins and blend these sample tracks to get the sound I want. I can bring up the fat snare, or bring up the crack snare, raise the real snare, etc. If somebody wants a more organic, roomy ’70s sound, I can run the real snare tracks really hot and bring the samples down, perhaps using them just for the two and the four. If the clients want a more modern sound, I run the samples hotter and maybe squeeze the compressors just a bit more.”
heheh… and that could be considered rather ‘tame’ compared to some of the really dark stuff out there. Then again, Vikings were some dark folk living in a dark time by today’s standards. It’s a period piece!
I do tend to agree that in many cases the ‘blast beat’ is both overused and can be obnoxious. Like everything else … I guess it has its place… like seasoning on your food. It should compliment the meal, not dominate it.