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Metal and Orchestra - Viktor - 12-28-2018

Hey folks!
Long time no see, I was kind of on an orchestral hiatus and did some other stuff, but now I'm slowly returning there to try out some ideas. I'm doing some games ost for some friends right now and I decided to combine some parts of a metal band with some orchestration, this is just a small hint of whats about to come. https://instaud.io/36rh

I'm relatively new to playing this style so all criticism regarding mixing, composing and so far are appreciated, especially regarding the guitar tone. Also, do you have any references for this kind of style, that is in standard tuning? I tried to get some mixing references, but it was all with vocals and down tuned a lot, which made it super hard to draw comparisons.


RE: Metal and Orchestra - Nayrb - 12-28-2018

Cool track! I like the synth bits. Reminds me a little of Devin Townsend. I can only listen on my phone at the moment, so I'll reserve comments on tone for later. As for references in standard tuning, I'm not sure. The first Angra album, Angels Cry, is in standard, I think. Mostly upper register orchestra there, though, I believe. I think Rhapsody of Fire is / was in standard but I haven't listened to them in probably ten years. If you're not opposed to downtuning just a little I believe guitars on Turisas' the Varangian Way are no lower than a step down.

I am certain guitars are in D on Wilderun's stuff. D isn't all that far off from standard in comparison to most bands these days, and Wilderun is very heavy on the orchestra. Not sure about examples sans vocals, though. I'll have to think about that one.

https://wilderun.bandcamp.com/album/olden-tales-deathly-trails


RE: Metal and Orchestra - Viktor - 12-28-2018

(12-28-2018, 12:45 PM)Nayrb Wrote: Cool track! I like the synth bits. Reminds me a little of Devin Townsend. I can only listen on my phone at the moment, so I'll reserve comments on tone for later. As for references in standard tuning, I'm not sure. The first Angra album, Angels Cry, is in standard, I think. Mostly upper register orchestra there, though, I believe. I think Rhapsody of Fire is / was in standard but I haven't listened to them in probably ten years. If you're not opposed to downtuning just a little I believe guitars on Turisas' the Varangian Way are no lower than a step down.

I am certain guitars are in D on Wilderun's stuff. D isn't all that far off from standard in comparison to most bands these days, and Wilderun is very heavy on the orchestra. Not sure about examples sans vocals, though. I'll have to think about that one.

https://wilderun.bandcamp.com/album/olden-tales-deathly-trails

Hell yeah, Ziitload and Holsts Mars were the main inspirations behind this, so I really appreciate that! Thanks a lot, I'll check these out, thats already a lot of stuff I've never heard of (except Turisas) mild downtuning is not so much the problems, it's just when it becomes chugging on dropped A, that the mixing is just really different, so I can't really use it to mix. But one or two half steps seem fine too me as far as i can judge.

EDIT: I'm listening to Angels Cry right now, this is greeeat. The cheesiness is just right, the riffs, the melodies, the passion, this is damn good.


RE: Metal and Orchestra - Mattias Westlund - 12-29-2018

Sounds good to me, even though a little crowded arrangement-wise. Is it really neccessary to have both several layers of double-tracked guitar as well as the orchestra playing largely the same things? It's really difficult to hear any individual orchestral parts right now, it's more like a big amorphous swell of sound in the background. Especially the brass is almost completely swamped by the lead guitar melody. And there's power chords that ring out on top as well I think?

Musically speaking it's really cool, sounds a bit like Symphony X, but as mentioned if I were you I would thin out the guitars OR give the orchestra something different to play that doesn't clash with the guitars, like some high register ostinato or such. The choir works fine for doubling the melody though, as it has a timbre that cuts through the wall of sound.


RE: Metal and Orchestra - Nayrb - 12-29-2018

(12-28-2018, 01:07 PM)Viktor Wrote: Hell yeah, Ziitload and Holsts Mars were the main inspirations behind this, so I really appreciate that! Thanks a lot, I'll check these out, thats already a lot of stuff I've never heard of (except Turisas) mild downtuning is not so much the problems, it's just when it becomes chugging on dropped A, that the mixing is just really different, so I can't really use it to mix. But one or two half steps seem fine too me as far as i can judge.

EDIT: I'm listening to Angels Cry right now, this is greeeat. The cheesiness is just right, the riffs, the melodies, the passion, this is damn good.

Ziltoid and Holst are definitely good places to look for inspiration! But of course, Devy, as his name implies, is very heavy, and the guitars are always tuned low on his stuff.

I often listen to the first four Angra albums in the summer time. So much happiness, and as you say, passion. How about Andre Matos' pipes? That modulation at the end of "Carry On"...


RE: Metal and Orchestra - Viktor - 12-30-2018

(12-29-2018, 02:46 PM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: Sounds good to me, even though a little crowded arrangement-wise. Is it really neccessary to have both several layers of double-tracked guitar as well as the orchestra playing largely the same things? It's really difficult to hear any individual orchestral parts right now, it's more like a big amorphous swell of sound in the background. Especially the brass is almost completely swamped by the lead guitar melody. And there's power chords that ring out on top as well I think?

Musically speaking it's really cool, sounds a bit like Symphony X, but as mentioned if I were you I would thin out the guitars OR give the orchestra something different to play that doesn't clash with the guitars, like some high register ostinato or such. The choir works fine for doubling the melody though, as it has a timbre that cuts through the wall of sound.


Thanks for the feedback! I think I want a certain amount of that wall of sound, but I agree with you that it should be more distiguishable. Yeah I think the lower string ostinatos might not be totally needed. I wanted them there to tie the band together with the orchestra, but since they are doing the same rhythm in the higher registers that might be enough.

Yeah there are coming in powerchords in the second part, I think those are needed, but I might be able to tame on or the other a little bit with some heavy eqing.

Well, since I was afraid that the guitars and everything was not powerful enough, I might have overcompensated a bit Big Grin I'll try to carve it out all a bit more, arrangement wise and eq wise.

(12-29-2018, 08:26 PM)Nayrb Wrote: Ziltoid and Holst are definitely good places to look for inspiration! But of course, Devy, as his name implies, is very heavy, and the guitars are always tuned low on his stuff.

I often listen to the first four Angra albums in the summer time. So much happiness, and as you say, passion. How about Andre Matos' pipes? That modulation at the end of "Carry On"...

Yeah that's all really cool stuff and then a cover of Wuthering Heights, I love that song and I'm so amazed that he pulls it of in that high key. I think I might tune down a bit for the other songs, I just got this BC Rich from a mate and it has a floyd rose, so I'm really dreading messing with the tuning, but it might make having a cool wall of sound so much easier.


RE: Metal and Orchestra - Nayrb - 01-05-2019

(12-30-2018, 02:14 PM)Viktor Wrote: I just got this BC Rich from a mate and it has a floyd rose, so I'm really dreading messing with the tuning, but it might make having a cool wall of sound so much easier.

I had my floyd blocked on my main guitar years ago. Lately I've been considering unblocking it and having a Tremol-No system installed so I can have my cake and eat it, too. I've discovered I actually really like those floating bridges that come on Fenders and such where you can still do flutters and expressive vibrato without having to mess with locks and all that. Good luck playing with the tuning on that BC Rich. Keep a screwdriver nearby...


As for downtuning for metal and orchestra, I tried that out for a little bit but ultimately learned I needed to go back to square one and learn more about writing / arranging orchestral music and metal respectively, and have kept them separate ever since. So these days I just stick to my preferred D standard tuning. If I start writing metal that requires a bit of a symphonic touch again I'll probably go the route of keyboard patches (strings, choir, whatever...) instead and maybe supplement here and there with samples where they add something.


RE: Metal and Orchestra - Viktor - 01-06-2019

(01-05-2019, 07:13 PM)Nayrb Wrote:
(12-30-2018, 02:14 PM)Viktor Wrote: I just got this BC Rich from a mate and it has a floyd rose, so I'm really dreading messing with the tuning, but it might make having a cool wall of sound so much easier.

I had my floyd blocked on my main guitar years ago. Lately I've been considering unblocking it and having a Tremol-No system installed so I can have my cake and eat it, too. I've discovered I actually really like those floating bridges that come on Fenders and such where you can still do flutters and expressive vibrato without having to mess with locks and all that. Good luck playing with the tuning on that BC Rich. Keep a screwdriver nearby...


As for downtuning for metal and orchestra, I tried that out for a little bit but ultimately learned I needed to go back to square one and learn more about writing / arranging  orchestral music and metal respectively, and have kept them separate ever since. So these days I just stick to my preferred D standard tuning. If I start writing metal that requires a bit of a symphonic touch again I'll probably go the route of keyboard patches (strings, choir, whatever...) instead and maybe supplement here and there with samples where they add something.

Yeah that is kinda close to my approach too. I don't really use the full orchestra, just parts of it for orchestral spicing. I feel like the mental image of an orchestra in the listeners head is much more important kinda then the whole thing. And just having some strings, brass and choir from time to time that are just kinda used like a keyboard can do a lot to make it sound and feel bigger I think. I relistened to some of my favs from teen years that had orchestra on it and I was surprised out to hear how little sometimes the orchestra plays and how often it is just some synth patch. But the illusion and grandness still kinda remains, so I think I will try that line of arranging (and make my life way sufficiently easier).


RE: Metal and Orchestra - Mattias Westlund - 01-07-2019

I definitely agree with the "keyboard orchestra" approach. If nothing else -- arranging for a full orchestra is a waste of time when you're going to bury it behind heavy guitars and drums, which will drown out all nuances. OTOH, you can always have the full orchestra kick in for interludes or softer parts.

As for tunings, I think drop C or C standard might be a good low(ish) tuning for orchestral metal. That way your guitars cover the same range as the cello.


RE: Metal and Orchestra - Viktor - 01-16-2019

I followed your advice and went even more in the keyboard orchestra realm and also regarding the tips of arranging less orchestra, so that everyone gets more space https://instaud.io/3br3 However mixing is still hard, there are some things I struggle in particular with and wanted to ask if you guys have some tips specify for those problems areas.

1. The first part is kinda mushed up a bit, I dabbled a bit with shoegazish guitars and had to cut a lot of stuff to make things kinda work, but it seems be loosing kinda the punch. I'm thinking of just bringing metal guitars up a bit, however...

2. The metal guitar tracks also seem to be kinda lacking punch and In-your-face-ness, I know that there is a compromise to be a made and they will defiantly have to leave some space for the synths and all that jazz. I've been thinking of getting them back some of the area around 300 hz, but usally stuff then just gets messy, are there any other approaches that work? I have stayed away from compression completely yet.

3. The leads at around 0:39 just make me cringe a bit soundwise, they sound so harsh, but I'm cutting a lot at around 1k, 3k and 5k already, is there something that I'm missing? I tried lowpassing, but then they just are a more muffle.

4. Not sure if the snare is punchy enough, I feel like it doesn't really contribute to the bounce of the track as for now, is it simply a matter of making it louder? I tried that, but then it just kinda sounds out of place.

All of these problems are a bit subjective, so if you disagree with me, telling me that would also be helpful, since I wanna get my ear more "neutral" by gaining more perspective.

EDIT: Maybe the mix is just also a bit too reverbed over all, but I reduce it, it kinda looses that space feeling, so maybe just using some verb and some delay? Not sure, maybe I just also have to tweek with the reverb more.