This is the first time that we really experimented with guitar tones for an album. In the past, we just plugged our Ampegs in, or used the amps that the engineer said we should use. The result was that we were never truly satisfied with our sound.
For Imperium, we were adamant about getting a killer guitar tone and we invested a lot of time in trying to nail it. With the help of Joe Cincotta (Fullforce Studios), Charlie Errigo (Merciless Concept), Chris McCarthy (Without Remorse) and Derek Boyer (Suffocation), we went through a boatload of amplifier combinations in search of a great tone.
Here is a list of the amps we experimented with:
After a lot of back and forth, we decided that the Peavey 6505+ would be our baseline amplifier because it provided us with good crunch, lots of bass and good definition. We now needed an amplifier to compliment that by providing a bit of "fuzz" and a bit of a looser bottom end. We recorded some scratch tracks with the 6505+. then we plugged in all the other amps, fiddled with the sound and recorded scratch tracks with each different amp.
Once that was done, we all gathered in the control room and listened to side-by-side comparisons, without any knowledge of which amp we were using (only Joe Cincotta knew). Everyone unanimously agreed that option C was the winner. To be sure, we listened a few more times and still arrived at option C.
Option C happened to be the Ampeg VH150. We were almost there. The VH150 was missing a bit of punch and top end. To fix this, we added a BBE Sonic Maximizer to the Ampeg's effects loop—that solved the problem.
We're very thankful that so many great people lent us their ears for this experiment and we really owe a debt of gratitude to Joe Cincotta and Fullforce for taking the time to do this. We're very happy with our guitar tone. Finally.
Below is a little clip of the winning combination. It's only from a phone, but you can feel and hear the thickness and clarity.
We all know that bass is the most disrespected instrument in deathmetal. And it seems like the bass in many of this genre's recordings tend to get buried by the guitars, drums and vocals. We wanted to make sure that didn't happen to Jay's tracks, so we worked really hard on getting a sound that was only suitable for holding the bottom end down, but also strong enough to cut through in the mix.
The first thing done was center the bass tracks in the mix. This way it is heard across the whole spectrum and is right in the middle of the action. Second, we added what we like to call "clank" to the bass sound. This gives the bass an audible tone and feel that you can hear during specific parts of songs.
The final bass tone we achieved is one that we are really happy with and feel will cut through and be heard on the album.
Jay finished his tracks late last night and we began to move into setting up our guitar tones. We made a quick recording of some tones we think we may like and now we'll sit on them for a day and see if they are right. Back to the studio Thursday night to finalize the guitar sounds and start tracking them.
Here's Jay laying down some bass. Sound quality isn't the greatest, but you get the idea...
Here's a little clip of drummer Bill Tolley laying down tracks for our album.
With the tempo maps edited and ready to go, Bill settled into his throne for a very long night of drumming.
At first, some of the tempos were a little jarring to him because we slowed a lot of the groove parts down a as compared to what we do live in order to accentuate each song's heaviness. Some habits are hard to break, especially when you're excited to record so the first few run throughs we're a little off and too fast in some parts.
Regardless, after a bit of warm up coupled with a cigar and a touch of bourbon, he found his groove and locked in with the click track. From there on, the night went rather smoothly. We only hit one real tough snag during the night, and that was during the recording of the song "Aftermath." Somewhere in the song was an extra 16th note that was throwing everything off. It took about an hour to find it. Once we did, Bill fixed the part with a flawless punch-in.
Overall, progress is going well. All the drum tracks are finished. We're taking the rest of the week off, and Bass tracks begin on Monday.
Below is a little sample of Bill Jamming.