I think it’s fair to assume that most of you who come to this site will be into anything heavy and will wanna get the most out of your recordings (least I would hope so). In this series of posts, I’m going to walk you through the step-by-step process of metal recording and production in hopes of you can taking away some tips and applying them to your own projects.
The biggest problem I have with bands coming into my studio is them being unprepared.
First: Write everything before the studio
Aim to write more songs than you want to record. Sure this may take longer but this will also get you into the writing process and help you understand what works and what doesn’t allowing you to be objective of your own material and make better decisions.
Most of you have cell phones with recording functions so throw one into record and listen back to your stuff. Nothing tells you quicker what is or isn’t working than listening to it back and thinking “okay this section is cool, this needs work and that other one sucks, forget it” this allows you to have some objectivity and more importantly gets you keeping the good stuff and loosing the bad.
Finally: Map it Out
Once you have the parts ironed out then its time to work on arrangement. How will one section lead to the next, how are the vocals going to fit in? What layers are you going to put on? (extra guitars, gang vocals, lead breaks, keyboards etc) Finally, how fast is each section going to be in BPM? (beats per minute)
You can download metronome apps for your phones with tap tempo functions on them allowing you to tap in time on screen and see the BPM. Note these numbers down along with how many bars you are playing at this speed and how many beats in the bar aka time signature. This will later help you with the next step of pre production that all important click track! Finally, rehearse to that click and get used to playing with it as it will make the studio recordings later down the line a lot tighter and in time which is an essential part of any metal production where the threshold of accuracy some of the highest in any musical genre.
Next time: Becoming one with the click
Graham Waller, Freelance Audio Engineer