DISABUSE – DEATH MACHINES
Disabuse – Death Machines – planning and timespan:
The new album by dutch band Disabuse celebrates their 30 years of existence.
The band would come over with their orginal, first line-up to record their new album. We all set out to have the album done in early 2017, but due to a change of vocalist, and with that, the time it took to rewrite the vocal lines and lyrics the original planning went pretty much haywire.
We originally planned for 2 seperate days of recording Jeroen’s drums and the Edwin’s guitars, this was due to availability. Recording Patrick’s bass and Brian’s guitar parts was to be on other dates. The vocal was originally planned to be recorded during one of these sessions, but singer Steven wanted to record at home and sent the tracks later to be included in the mixes.
Disabuse – Death Machines Recordings:
On the two dates where the drums and Edwin’s guitar were recorded we live recorded these instruments. Both Brian and Edwin were in the recording room with Jeroen, playing along with headphones. Brian played along for backing, DI-ing his guitar through an amp simulator. Edwin’s amp was placed in another room and mic’d with a Shure sm57 close to the speaker and a Neuman TLM103 at about 60cm from the cabinet. Edwin used a vintage Marshall 1960a cabinet and Marshall 800 series head. I made sure the setup was exactly the same recording wise both times.
Jeroen used the studio’s drums, i.e. the Pearl CZX 24” maple bassdrum, The Pearl masterworks 10″, 12″ and 15” maple toms and the Mapex Blackpanther Brass snare. Jeroen brought his own Zildjian A Custom cymbals. We mic’d everything as followed:
On snare we used an AKG D1000e and Røde nt5 on top and a shure sm57 on bottom. The bassdrum had a Shure SM58 in the kick for attack and smack, a Sennheiser in the airhole for the allround kick sound and a Yamaha subkick for the ultra low end. The microphones used for racktoms were Sennheiser MD421’s. On the floortom a Røde nt1 was used, with some foam added on top to block off some of the low hanging ride cymbal’s sound.
The overheads used for this recording were Audio Technica AT3525 in AB setting. The roommics were Sennheiser MD21’s. Jeroen’s hihat got a Shure SM58 and the ride a Røde nt5.
Brian’s guitar used the same mic setup as for Edwin’s guitar recording. We played around with some amp settings and ended up using the studio’s Marshall Modefour amp and custom 2×12 cabinet.
Patrick’s bass was recorded through his Sansamp RPM en RBI modules. We re-amped this later through the Sound City bass amp and 1×15″ EV cabinet.
Death Machines mix:
The recording session, with the sent vocal tracks, ended up being around 65 tracks.
I started the mixsession with about 50 tracks after cleaning up and editing the recordings.
Although every track is somewhat different and required each own adjustments due to performance, changing keys and different played riffs, the mix is roughly the same for every track. The main goal soundwise was to find a balance between Disabuse’s ”Sorrow and Perdition” album, with it agressiveness, and a modern sound.
Starting out with the drums.
While pulling up the faders, the bassdrum sounded somewhat too wooly and undefined. Removing the subkick track cleaned out a lot of that. The e602 track provided more then enough low end for this mix and sounded a lot tighter. I did use gating on the bassdrum to remove any rumble or bleed from the snare. It’s pretty dense music. Cluttered, undefined tracks makes the mix a lot harder. The sm58 track provided the smack and attack needed to punch through. The bassdrum was pretty dynamically played. Compression by Elysia’s Mpressor vst and Brainworx’s bx_dynEQ V2 retained the dynamic feel but made sure the kick was steady throughout.
The bx_dynEQ V2 was used as boost in the 5k range and 60hz range, boosting after a certain treshold but limited in the maximum amount of eq boost.
Snare was a bit simpeler. Gating was used, but set to expanding instead of gating, mostly to reduce some ring and hihat bleed. Ofcourse, the snare was eq-ed and compressed and the bx_dynEQ V2 was used again in the same fashion as on the bassdrum, but used at 200hz for low end punch.
The overheads didn’t get that much compression, it sounded too congested with lot’s of compression going on. Compression was mostly used for evening out the overal levels a bit. the overheads contributed quite a bit to the attack in the snaresound. In contrast, the roommics where slammed. The Elysia mpressor was set to negative ratio to really duck the attack of kick and snare so a lot of roomsound was left. This was blended in for room and served as mainreverb for the drumsound.
Speaking of reverb. Only the snare had a tiny bit of snare reverb to help thickening it out where needed in the mix. The tom sound is mainly eq and a lot of levelling.
Levelling is actually done a lot on everything to make the tracks fit and sit well.
The bassguitar sound was pretty much already decided during recording. The reamp added some weight and a bit of 1k boost helped the bass cut trough. The bass is levelled in such a way so you can hear it, it’s not purely an extension of the guitars. We worked pretty hard during recording to make the bass stand out musically which helped a lot in the mix.
The blend of the Neumann TLM103 an sm57 was having the sm57 slightly louder. Both mics were time aligned to avoid phasing issues.
Individually, the guitar parts got some eq to adjust match the guitars to eachother. The guitars were sent to it’s own bus where the bulk of processing happened. Eq was used to create room for the snare and multiband compression was used to add oomph and weight. I must point out the use of the Vertigo VSM-3 vst. This plugin provided some extra crunch and saturation on the guitars and was pretty useful for the overall in your face sound of the guitars.
Finally, vocals. As said before, singer Steven recorded his vocals by himself. The first thing which needed attention was the fact there was a bit of mismatch between the used mic and Steven’s voice. The mic accentuated the consonants ( the t’s and s’s etc.) too much and felt like there was too little body. That meant de-essing and eq-ing. I made sure no plugin was processing too much to avoid any extra harshness. I firstly used the Eiois De-esser to do some global de-essing. The waves vocal rider then was set to add global volume levelling. next up was the Elysia mpressor to add body. So an overall shift from the harshness of consonants to more body is what I was after. Mind you, the vocal is still quite spitty, and that’s ok. Perfect for this band. Sounds agressive and mean!
Depending on each part of the song , I added reverb and delay for depth and attenuation.
Disabuse – Death Machines Mastering:
Every track was mixed seperately. Although I made sure every track has a pretty similar sound I did export stems for every track. So drums, bass, guitars, vocals and soundeffects were exported as seperate files for the mastering sessions. This way I could ensure every song had the same vibe, feel and subjective level and that the album sounded like an album. When I noticed the balances where slightly off in the instruments themselves in comparison to the other songs I went back into the mix project and made the changes needed.
Most notably in mastering was the extra addition of saturation on all instrument groups for thickness and some additional eq to open up the mix a bit more.
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a sound that contains
every frequency within
the range of human hearing
in equal amounts.
This post was written by Marlon Wolterink