Heavy Metal?


I wonder, if anyone is using Cubase to create heavy metal music. I could need some help with the stuff I am composing. While I am aware of my limitations in guitar playing and singing/shouting, I would appreciate suggestions concerning mixing (still too muddy here) and the usage of Cubase Essential 5 for emulation of drums and bass (still too artificial here).
Here is my stuff sofar: http://www.myspace.com/valecroft2010


I had a wee listen to a couple of them … but it’s the shouty bit: it just dosen’t do it for me. Renders the track un-listenable (to me).

Guitar palying: not bad - maybe the recording is a bit too harsh in the higher frequencies (rhythm guitar).

Solos: again, not bad.

Shouty bits: Hmmm.

As a title: “I eat the young” is a fantastic title, the initial singing is maybe a bit too ‘nice’ … and then you do the shouty thing … and I want to stop listening.

Drums: maybe trying to get ‘everything’ too loud. Drums get lost in the mix. (defo in I eat the young)

But hey: what do I know?

[Edit: If I had thought it was irredeemable … I’d just have gone on to the next topic and not bothered posting a reply]


I’ve always said Metal is easily the hardest type of music to mix, I suppose because with metal everything needs to be loud and is therefore competing for attention.

I checked out Reanimator. Those kinds of vocals don’t bother me, they’re part of the Nu Metal and are actually quite hard to do effectively. I’m hearing a couple things that might be done better:

sounds almost like it’s in monaural… pan those guitars all the way to the left and/or all the way to the right and see if that opens things up a bit.

drums are totally buried in the mix – don’t be afraid to bring them up

guitars also could come some even

Thanks for the constructive reviews. Seems I want to hide the drums, I don’t like :wink:

Do you mean the shouting is too loud, or is it your personal disliking of shouting in general?

With panning, do you mean to use something like a stereo enhancer? Or double the guitar recordings and put them on different channels?

It sounds like there’s one rhythm guitar and it’s panned toward the middle. That’s okay if one guitar is all you want. As you probably know, a lot of Metal anymore uses doubled-track rhythm guitars, one panned left and the other right. But it’s really the levels that need attention on this otherwise decent song

It’s a personal dislike. The shouty/growly thing isn’t really where my bag is at. … em … man.


Your hint was very helpful. The sound of the rhythm guitar and hence the mix really improved when I doubled the guitar and put the recordings on the channels seperately. I am currently experimenting with the voice(s). Doubling them improves the sound, too, but I’ll have to find an optimum location for them since I can’t put everything on separate channels to avoid cluttering. I’ll get back later and let you hear the results when I’m done.

That’s OK.

Out of curiosity, could one record the rhythm guitar in stereo (if you have a stereo effects processor, for example) and then use the Stereo Enhancer insert (with the Larger than Life preset) to do the same thing?

That, or you could do the old Haas Effect trick – copy the track, pan the two tracks left an right, and delay one of them about 25ms

Reanimator: http://valecroft.net/app/download/4298690902/Reanimator+(20110206+Demo).mp3
Guitars recorded twice and put on separate channels. Same with Bass Guitar. Vocals not changed yet. For comparison, the old version is still available: http://valecroft.net/app/download/4260656702/Reanimator+(20110122+Demo).mp3

Sounding much better now with the 2 guitars panned out. Personally I wouldnt do the same to the bass guitar.
I’d put the bass back in the middle and remove the 2nd bass take. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the comment, sav. When I have a single bass recording in the middle, any suggestions on how to give it more depth?

are you able to upload another version of the song so we can hear what is going on with the bass, now that it’s in the middle (the guitars may also sound a little different now the bass is out their way).


Link seems to broken so I cannot hear latest version.

Couple of tips from me…

Do not use any fancy processors etc for making double guitar track. Play them twice. Eventually it will sound better. In this kind of music timing is important so you may need to take few efforts.

Pan guitars 60left and 60right. Keep bass, snare and kick@ centre and pan toms like they are in real space. Use Cubase eq to cut everything below 200 Hz away from guitar tracks. put compressor to guitar, bass, snare and kick tracks. Use cubase presets to find nice sounding comp settings. then cut something like 150 -300 Hz with -3db cut or something from bass track. Then, mute everything apart from drums and bass and find a good balance. Then, add panned guitars and find a balance again.

For vox put at least a compressor into inert slot with 4:1 rate and 10 dB treshold. Play with attack, release and threshold settings until you are happy. Use make up gain to compensate for volume loss. Now it would be getting closer:)


Btw, the song is good :slight_smile:

Back after some time. I worked on the songs and just uploaded the new versions to http://valecroft.net/music/

Agreed, double recording sounds better. Used it in both songs. I also use it for the clean voice parts, so I end up with 4 voice tracks when having 2 voice lines.

At the moment guitars are totally left and right. Main voice tracks are 25left/right. Why do you propose only 60?

I use the Rock Standard Kit 1 which puts everything where it should be in real space as far as I can see.

I am still unsure what equalising would fit best. Compressors cause me a lot of headache since compressing single tracks and applying the race-for-loudness-compressor in the stereo-out-channel sometimes causes pumping or other undesired effects. At the moment, guitars, bass guitar and voices are compressed 4:1 with a -20dB threshold.

Why the cutting out? That’s the frequency region the bass does a lot of work.
Good hint concerning the order of the mixing steps :slight_smile:

Thanks for the hints and the compliment :smiley:

well, you lost me at the singing i have to say. But i guess that was never aimed at me.

The intro however is inspired. i love it.

Okay, I’m hearing some decent kick now, but I can’t hear the snare at all


Heres some “metal” that I tracked and mixed a few years back. This is with natural drums though. If you are into this style and sound I can answer some questions if you like.

One thing I had to learn about mixing metal vs playing metal is getting away from the smiley face eq and pushing the mid range of your guitars to add punch and make room for lower vocals.


Hi Val !

Sorry about late answers but I’ve been busy lately…end of the skiing season in Europe so you gotta move fast :slight_smile:

My views :

Yup, I’m there with with you !

Think it as a band you are seeing playing live - if they have two guitarists you will hear left player more with your left ear etc but due to room reverbrations and reflections your opposite ear will always pick up some from the other side as well. And if you are listening your music with headphones or nearfield monitors it sounds really unnatural. And mono compatibility - to be honest, I wouldn’t care about that nowadays but it might be compromised. And people tend to do foolish thigns like put one speaker into living room and the other one into the kitchen…you want to glue the guitars together…some spill to other channel please :slight_smile:

Sorted. But you do want to make a multichannel mix from the drums so bear this advice in mind.

At this time you are just concentrating to the mix. Do not worry about volume war. You might want to use compressors for guitars and bass to even out the dips and peaks and make them more consistent - like you do already. And glue them together. Settings you are using sound good…ratio for bass is okay but I’d use 2:1 for guitars.

For EQ…there’s nothing much of interest in guitar tracks happening below 200 Hz (actually there is but there are not that many producers who can make any good out of it). If you are not applying HPF you are just making bottom end muddy. I know that guitars in isolation will sound thin then this low cut is applied but you cannot hear that in full mix.

Well…give it a try. In this genre you must make sure that kick drum and bass are really complementing each other. If you follow my advice and you’ll use 200 Hz HPF on guitars and you want to let what-ever-is-left from guitars at this region to shine - do not mask that with bass - dig a “hole” in audio spectrum which is wide enough to accomodate some low end from guitars.

For the kick…I would bell-boost 40 Hz, make a sharp dip at 80 and put few more dB’s at the region where you have carved excess bass guitar off (150-300).

Even if working with samples I would do some processing for drums. Good sample set like you are using is recorded in perfect room, perfect drums and perfect mikes - and they sound good…in isolation ! When you are mixing you have to compromise and if you are making metal you might need to gate snare, toms and kick and compress kick and snare to get the “thum” and the “ooomph”. And you might want to compress overheads a lot as well.

In metal music groove with drums and bass is essential. Once you get it right, apply guitars - find the balance - do some EQ until you’re happy. Then apply vocals. Find the right balance for the vox and if you have the urge of changing something in drums or guitars or bass at this time do not touch the volume faders but play with EQ.

Once everything sounds nice apply effects and use channel EQ’s again to make everything sit.

Like Mr. Woodlock suggested in other thread at this point you might want to put a nice bus compressor into stereo mix bus. Just few dB treshold and 1,2 - 1,5 ratio. Not to compete in volume war but to glue things together. Compressor will change the sound of the mix so you might need to do some EQ tweaking after applying it.

Okay - that was my 2 cents. Hope at least part of it made sense.


p.s. song is still good :slight_smile:

Thanks for the hints and the compliment :smiley:[/quote]

Thanks, Pat Sullivan, that’s the closest track I’ve noticed on this forum until now :wink: I like that song even though it is a bit too old-school for me. I prefer the progressive sort of black metal more. However, I am glad to hear that some other metalheads are around :stuck_out_tongue:
Any hints are very much appreciated. You mentioned that the instruments are not sampled. One thing I am still dissatisfied with is the unnatural sounding of my drums. Any advice for making sampled drums sound more natural?

Braunie, thanks for the ideas. I will try some things out, but one problem I encountered was that I am not a good evaluator of my own work since I am biased. E.g. I know how the tracks and instruments sound even if they get lost in the mix. How do you deal with this problem? How to find an unbiased and analysing audience?

BTW, I uploaded another song: