The visuals in the music video are killer! The United States is quite ethnocentric, I admit, so I’m not versed in the culture. I don’t know what the guys in the white robes with the yellow and red flare that are dancing is called. Feel free to tell me about that in the comments if you know. But that’s one of the visuals that’s just badass!
But you’re here for my thoughts on the mix, not on the video’s visuals.
Mix wise, it all works very well together. Aside from it lacking dynamic range, which might’ve made things more impactful during transitions, the mix is solid and all of the elements work quite well together.
Not a huge fan of the lack of space in the guitar tone in the intro, but after the song picks up it fits much better. Likely because there’s more space being taken up by the music, leaving less room for you to notice how bone dry the guitar feels in terms of room reflections. I just don’t like how dry it feels in the intro. This could be due to the hard panning of the guitars without other mix elements present to make up for the lack of guitar in the center. It could be that the elements that come in later are masking some of the midrange in the guitar, which isn’t happening in the intro (which causes that to stand out to me).
It also feels like there’s no microdynamics, no sag, no space. I’d suspect it’s modeled. Which is fine, I use amp modelers all the time. LOVE me some amp sims, and use em every day! I am hearing a need for some room reverb, just a subtle amount in the intro. Maybe a dynamic eq to create microdynamics? Maybe automating Boz’s Pan Knob in the intro to keep some of the guitar in the center while still hard panning?
Here are two Mix Minutes explaining why room reverb on guitar is important, and explaining how to use a dynamic eq on amp modelers.
I’m assuming here. And I’m not being negatively critical. I love how it works together when things pick up, and I have no idea how this guitar was recorded. That’s just what my ear is picking up when listening through my OLLO‘s. It’s a weird juxtaposition with the amount of space around the hand drums right after the intro vs the amount of space in the guitars right before the hand drums in the intro. I might’ve made the intro have a touch of the room reflections that the hand drums had, just in the intro. I tend to like making intros sound a little different to add some contrast and movement. When you need to, you can go back to that contrasting texture to keep things interesting and it will feel familiar and not out of place.
I do notice that the kick is lacking a sense of low end at times. I’m wondering how well the kick was arranged with the bass tone and potential collisions being considered. It’s also a squashed master, so some of that may have been lost due to the lack of dynamic range. But I’m noticing it the most when the bass is playing low notes. When that happens, the kick is mostly attack. When the bass plays higher notes, the low end of the kick feels like it comes through a bit more.
It still works quite well, but it’s something I’m noticing. If the kick were tuned away from the bass fundamental, the low end might cut through a bit more. I suspect this was a sampled kick, chosen for its attack. Many people wouldn’t think to tune a kick sample, but I’ve done it with great results. Waves’ “Torque” could be used for this, but I’ve also had great results with REAPER’s stock “ReaPitch” plugin.
Here’s a mix minute explaining how tuning the kick away from the bass can remedy this issue. Do it before recording if you can. If not, try retuning in post.
Also, if it weren’t squashed as much as it is (transparently, but still not very dynamic) the middle eight could’ve had a lot more impact in my opinion. I like a lot of Babymetal, especially their first album. The synth feels like something you’d hear on that record. And when it comes in behind the more acoustic instruments in the middle eight, it sounds really cool. But the lack of macrodynamic range makes the song have less impact when the music picks back up after the middle eight. This led me to buy the song on iTunes and run it through REAPER’s SWS loudness analyzer (pictured below) and through Dynameter (pictured above).
Speaking of the middle eight, the acoustic instruments don’t sound very realistic. That makes them feel a bit out of place. I’m wondering if they were sample based. This is also fine, but with a bit of humanization this could’ve felt more realistic. Either way, I would suggest a room reverb, as well as a bit of saturation. It sounded kinda harsh and digital. I’d prefer warm and spacious from that section. Think about the percussion on Breaking The Girl from RHCP in the mid section, and pay attention to the amount of space you hear. Couple that with a higher overall dynamic range, and you’ve got a mid section that builds to an explosive moment when the band comes back in.
Here’s a playlist from Noise Floor guest contributor Dave Chick about humanizing midi orchestration. Sure, different instruments. But the information about arrangement can still apply.
And here’s RHCP’s “Breaking The Girl” for a reference point on the sense of space I’d like to hear from the middle eight. Head to 3:03.
All that to say this is a killer song. None of my thoughts on the mix ultimately matter, because I wasn’t involved in the creative process and I don’t know what the bands goals were. I can say what I observe, but if the band is happy then the engineer did the job correctly. The song is badass, and the mix does the song justice many times over.
And you’ve just gotta love the band name “Bloodywood“. Definitely am a fan now. Subscribe to them on youtube, and catch them on tour if you can.