During the verses, when that rhythm guitar is not playing … the drums, bass vocalist and the guitar off to the side are providing clear and punchy melodic and rhythmic energy. The centre rhythm guitar, though, when it comes in with its rhythm stabs, rather than adding octane and support with its chops, smashes through as if a fellow member of the audience … someone sitting in the seat just in front of me … is noodling his own chops. It disconnects from the rest of the band and when it stops to let the next verse happen, the echo of its over-dominance renders what follows pale and wan. Centre rhythm guitar needs to be taken down in volume. Should it be panned a little bit to the side opposite the present ‘side guitar?’ I don’t know. When, in the earlier parts of the voice it is interspersing, then the vocal and guitar sharing centre-stage focus feels good … the sledgehammer is hitting the rock at the same point and therefore adds to the impact. The end of the verse, however, the guitar and voice MIGHT be vying and obscuring each other - though I say ‘might,’ since the problem might dissolve with the reduction of volume alone.
Vocals and harmony vocals are very much in my face during choruses … I like this, because it give a feeling of full on harmony group with choochoo train impetus. Drumkit has kind of gone into the background, and maybe that’s the sacrifice that has to be made however, the kick/snare have lost too much of their beef. Rhythm and impetus is being retained, because the rest of the band is smokin’, but the drums turn into tin and sizzle. This is partly because they were, in my opinion, beautifully balanced for the ‘sound environment’ you created for the verses, in which the one voice was ‘in’ the band. The sound-stages for the verse and chorus are so different that, if you wish to keep this very strong contrast, then I reckon snare/kick and bass-punch need to be re-thought and that the rhythm section needs to be made ‘big enough’ to support those power-harmony-vocals. Vocals should be ‘riding’ the band like on a horse. At the moment, the horse is a very little one.
Lead Solo guitar: The heavy reverb does not obscure the bum notes and timing issues, but rather serves to add a second ‘noodler’ to the band … this time, s/he’s sitting in a nearby bathroom with a small combo. That lead - I was wanting it to pounce like a wolf. I wanted the cherry to be on the top of the cake rather than left on a side-plate in the kitchen. I’ve a worried feeling that the lead guitarist him/herself chose most of that, including the distortion which, though in my own music I’d rather take mendicant holy orders than go below eleven, in the band you’re working with, needed to provide, at most, crunch rather than oversaturated sustain, because the lead’s very notes and phrases were closer to attack-heavy high-energy country-rock solo than ‘Wheeeweew’ Rawk. I’m thinking toward driven Fender Pro or Twin.
When I think of the contrast between the two sound stages, I would do the following mixes as an experiment:
Verse-form ‘band’ = reduce vol of centre rhythm guitar and move it to the side slightly. During choruses, add a bit more volume to lead vox and bring in harmony voxes slightly less vol than lead vox. Then nothing would be in my face, but I’d see a tight harmony vox standing on a stage. I’d lose the chorus ‘wall of vox’ - would that loss ruin the energy of the song? Would
Chorus-form ‘band’- let the ‘squashed’ feel apply also to the verses - maybe copy the lead vocal a few times with micro time-displacement [or something ?] to thicken it up, so the homogenous band is still be ‘led’ by the voice, even when there is just one of them. Then in choruses, the harmony voxes wold slip in either side.
Verse-form band would feel like a ‘democratic’ instruments&singers band
Chorus-form band would feel like a ‘Vocal Group’ & backing band ‘with’ guest lead guitarist.
Thus there would be two different production concepts - two ‘personalities’ for the band. Each would be very strong and unified, and I’d use this ‘Binocular’ perspective as a tool with which to ‘Triangulate’ this song to its next level.
Karl, I’ve tried to describe two visions and how I see them contrasting or fitting, and, re-reading what I wrote, realise however, that I did so at the expense of pointing out the many things I like, and wish therefore, to conclude by affirming that quality is dripping throughout this, but that having had opportunity to experience some of your other works, I took it for granted, for which I apologise.