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JLE3

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PostSubject: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:12 pm

Hello everyone. I am new here and am looking for some feedback. I am a musician and have collaborated with a singer in New Zealand. We are working on a full length concept album together and have a few songs completed, but still many more to go. Although we are still hashing out the details of the "story" for this concept album, it is based on the idea of someone who has sinned in their life quite a bit and now is coming to the end of their life, regretting the things they have done and wondering if they will make it into Heaven. The subject matter of each song is different but in line with the story. For example, this song I'm attaching will come toward the beginning of the album and discusses the subject's drug addiction (one of the sins she regrets). So the "Demons" referred to are personal demons. The hope is that this album will start out dark but then end on a positive or fulfilling note.

Anyway, I am very happy with the way this particular song came together, however my opinion is obviously biased. What I would truly appreciate is some feedback from as many people as possible on two things 1) The song itself and 2) The mix.

The mix is of particular importance to me because we need to get it right on this song since it is one of the first. That way when the others are finished I can follow along the same guide in mixing them...if that makes sense.

Thank you very much for listening! I hope to hear from some of you soon.

Defy The Demons - By Evans & Stokes
Music: John Evans
Lyrics & Vocals: Jenny Stokes




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Xid

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:32 pm

So far so good!
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JLE3

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:34 pm

Thank you very much Xid!!!
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ishmael81

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:40 pm

1) The song itself
- First, unless the whole album is that sort of doomy, female-vocal metal, I wouldn't have this be the first song. Second or even third (depending on the other songs, I have idea of the vision of the rest of the album, I realize). That being said, I enjoyed the song. It made me want to hear how the album ends. The vocals were unique and I enjoyed that there were keyboards and acoustic guitar to give the song some texture.

2) The mix
First, I'm listening on my crappy work computer's speakers just so you know. At about a minute in when the drums first start, I couldn't hear much else. Lots of drums but not enough bass or guitar - even the vocals could have been bumped a touch. Then when the guitar is overdrive/distorted at about 2:16, the mix sounded much more balanced. Again at about 3:20 when the other instruments are a little more understated, it seemed drum heavy. It may just be my speakers and if you'd like I can listen tonight on my TV/Wii setup (which has much better speakers) or even through headphones on my iPhone and see how it sounds then.
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JLE3

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:45 pm

Well Ishmael81 this is exactly what I was hoping to get here. And I would LOVE it if you could listen in a better environment with headphones. There is quite a bit of spacing on this mix, maybe too much in some parts. The heavy drums is great feedback and I can easily fix that. There are over 40 tracks to this mix so it was difficult for me to have sections not sound muddled. Looks like I have more work to do.

I'd be very interested to hear what you have to say after listening later today. Thanks!

The song - yes this is a dark song. We are still working out the arrangement of songs on the album to see exactly where they fit. Some of the other songs on the album will be:

Sadness
Angel Eyes
My Lullaby
Kingdom of Heaven
Angel Wings
Sweet Dreams
Forgiveness
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BearDad

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 1:59 pm

I agree with Xid in that I like what I hear so far. And I disagree with Ishmael81 in that I think the mix is pretty good (must be his speakers. Smile ).  My only dislike is that the vocal seems to have a bit of an echo or reverb that make make them a little bit too "moany," making them sound like she's in an empty room. (I'm not a sound tech, so I have no idea what I'm talking about! Very Happy ) I know that might be what you were looking for, given this song has a touch o' da doom to it, but were I the producer (assuming I had a musical ear and could be a producer) I'd probably want the vox just a smidge cleaner so they stand out just a little more.
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JLE3

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 3:27 pm

Thanks BearDad. The chorus specifically has heavy effect and perhaps too much. That was one of my concerns as well. Easy enough to dial back.
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Staybrite

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 4:24 pm

First off, welcome to the board JLE we really love hearing from musicians who are creating music.

Second, I really dig your song and cannot wait to hear more!

Third with regards to constructive criticism.  I'm listening to the song with some Sony MDR-SB450 headphones (so not at all top of the line, but a decent mass consumer variety set of headphones).  The drums don't come across as over powering at all, and I'm guessing I can hear all of the instruments relatively well.  I agree with BearDad's assessment of the vocal effect (sounds like a little reverb or even stereo chorus..) it is slightly distracting and could possibly be dialed back a little.  Overall it sounded slightly muddy as well, not sure why (I'm not at all technically savey when it comes to recording).  Not sure if it is in any other songs, but backing vocals would also help quite a bit in giving the song(s) more dimension. All that to say that nothing I mentioned would prevent me from enjoying this recording with repeated listens just they way it is now.  You've got some really cool music there.

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ishmael81

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 4:25 pm

So I listened to it again and the drums didn't seem so loud but I did notice what BearDad said about the vocals - they seem a little reverb-y or chorus-y.

And I'd like to hear more songs if you're willing to share.

And I'll definitely listen again later and see what I think.
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JLE3

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 4:41 pm

Thanks Staybrite, and everyone else for these comments. They are very valuable to me. It sounds like the main fix needs to be less effect on the vocal. I used a female vocal enhancer, analog delay, and  "Bitter Hallway" reverb. I'm going to remix with less effect and see what we come up with.

As far as the muddiness in some spots I think the cause could possibly be that I may have overdone it with the guitar work. In some spots there are 3 or 4 guitar tracks over each other. This may have been a good idea in theory but perhaps does not come across in the music as planned. Maybe less is more in some of those spots, so I'll have to look closely at that. When the guitar player (me) does the mixing, the result is usually too much guitar! Lol.

As far as posting another song (Ishmael81), I do have one more that is nearly finished I can share. But keep in mind this one still isn't done. The vocal track will be resung and harmony added. The mix will then be tweaked after that. But the music is final and it will at least give you more indication of where the album/story is headed.

I'll post it in a new thread. The song is called Kingdom of Heaven.

The song I think will represent the turning point in the album. The character has died and is now trying to get into Heaven.
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ishmael81

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 4:51 pm

Understood JLE. You've piqued our interest (or at least mine).

The layered guitar thing does muddy the sound for some folks. I've heard of some people who use a digital mixer just copy & pasting the original but that seems less organic to me.
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BearDad

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 5:29 pm

Staybrite wrote:
First off, welcome to the board JLE we really love hearing from musicians who are creating music.

Second, I really dig your song and cannot wait to hear more!

All that to say that nothing I mentioned would prevent me from enjoying this recording with repeated listens just they way it is now.  You've got some really cool music there.

I agree
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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 5:41 pm

JLE3 wrote:
Thanks Staybrite, and everyone else for these comments. They are very valuable to me. It sounds like the main fix needs to be less effect on the vocal. I used a female vocal enhancer, analog delay, and  "Bitter Hallway" reverb. I'm going to remix with less effect and see what we come up with.

As far as the muddiness in some spots I think the cause could possibly be that I may have overdone it with the guitar work. In some spots there are 3 or 4 guitar tracks over each other. This may have been a good idea in theory but perhaps does not come across in the music as planned. Maybe less is more in some of those spots, so I'll have to look closely at that. When the guitar player (me) does the mixing, the result is usually too much guitar! Lol.

As far as posting another song (Ishmael81), I do have one more that is nearly finished I can share. But keep in mind this one still isn't done. The vocal track will be resung and harmony added. The mix will then be tweaked after that. But the music is final and it will at least give you more indication of where the album/story is headed.

I'll post it in a new thread. The song is called Kingdom of Heaven.

The song I think will represent the turning point in the album. The character has died and is now trying to get into Heaven.

Hey man, however you do it my hat is off to you for even being able to create music, and lyrics with a good, solid, Biblical message as well. Me? The closest I get to music is what goes in my ears and the occasional blatting noise I make with the trumpet that I haven't played regularly for 30 years.
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topshot rhit



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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Wed Nov 16, 2016 10:17 pm

John,
Love the song, which is saying a lot coming from me. Like her voice and how far up she is in the mix.

Critiques:
1. She is too lazy at times in her annunciation, perhaps because she's trying to sound gloomy on this one, especially when ending in t. Sounds like she says "There's no way up, cause I can defy the demons" and "that I can justify" and "no will to justify"
2. The extra processing at 2:23 is too much. While I wouldn't mind hearing something more than what you had, that's not quite it and it makes "desperate" not come out clearly. Perhaps just more power from her there would do the trick. Or layer her vocals like Theocracy does.
3. Whatever you did different at 5:03, remove it. That last phrase doesn't sound right.
4. Seems like your totally missing the upper mids/highs on the drum kit, which is what makes it seem muddy to me. Drop the kick down a bit and bring the snare up a bit. All the cymbals just seem dead to me, yet you can hear the lead guitar just fine.
5. If you are using a real bass guitar, it needs to be brought up. I was thinking maybe you are just using a downtuned guitar for rhythm.
6. The ending can be improved. I would go with some more acoustic and keyboard, finishing with a good low chord.

Listened to some of your other stuff, and the drums are lacking highs on most of them. On Eagles Wings was better in that regard (though overall levels were too high as there was distortion). Looking forward to hearing more! Thumbs Up

JLE3 wrote:
The song is called Kingdom of Heaven.
The song I think will represent the turning point in the album. The character has died and is now trying to get into Heaven.

Well, I wasn't expecting the story to not have a "happy" ending. Interesting take on it.

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JLE3

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Thu Nov 17, 2016 12:15 am

Wow topshot. Nice detailed critique. This is exactly what I think I need to not only improve these songs but also the rest that are in production. I didn't want to think these two were great and continue down the same path (primarily with mixing) on the others, without getting some opinions first.

To be honest there is a lot of gloom on these two songs I posted here, but we do plan to end the album with a more uplifting message...we just haven't gotten that far yet.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to some of my other stuff! But let me explain a bit more as it may make more sense. I have released three albums so far that are all instrumental. These were experiments and I obtained a lot of feedback on my mixes. I've since teamed up with Jenny initially to just add vocals and lyrics to songs I had already released, remix them, and then re-release. This plan kind of developed into a larger project where now we are really liking the idea of a concept album. She is singing on some of the existing songs, we've re-named a few of them, changed arrangements, and re-mixed them. And we've also written some new songs to fit into the album scheme.

The other stuff you're listening to is my experimental instrumental stuff that really does need re-mixing. So you're right on there!

Although I think we're headed in the right direction, I do feel they need improvement which is why I posted here, to get feedback like yours and the others who were nice enough to listen and share.

Thank you!
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BearDad

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Thu Nov 17, 2016 7:05 am

Hmm. Your discussion with topshot sparked a thought  ....

JLE3 wrote:
The character has died and is now trying to get into Heaven.

topshot rhit wrote:
I wasn't expecting the story to not have a "happy" ending.

JLE3 wrote:
we do plan to end the album with a more uplifting message.

Uplifting? Really? Is that possible? The character is dead; to bad, so sad, there's the door, the devil's waiting for you. Sorry if that sounds finalistic (is that a word? maybe fatalistic is better), but there is no happiness with that which I can imagine, nothing to uplift the listener. Seems to me the CD, worded as you have done (that we have thus far seen) is a warning of the lack of hope beyond the grave. Once you're dead, you're done; hope is for the living, as they still have a chance. Even if you died a Believer hope is non-existent, because then it becomes fact ... you're in Heaven and there is no more need for hope. So your story doesn't really have a happy ending, but that's the point: without Jesus there is no happy ending. And there's nothing wrong with having a Christian album that doesn't end on a happy note IMO. Not every message needs to end with "ain't it all great that some of us believe?" Sometimes they should end with a little gloom and doom, some fire and brimstone! 

Just my thoughts. Ignore at will. Very Happy
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topshot rhit



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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Thu Nov 17, 2016 7:32 am

BearDad wrote:
Uplifting? Really? Is that possible? The character is dead; to bad, so sad, there's the door, the devil's waiting for you. Sorry if that sounds finalistic (is that a word? maybe fatalistic is better), but there is no happiness with that which I can imagine, nothing to uplift the listener. Seems to me the CD, worded as you have done (that we have thus far seen) is a warning of the lack of hope beyond the grave. Once you're dead, you're done; hope is for the living, as they still have a chance. Even if you died a Believer hope is non-existent, because then it becomes fact ... you're in Heaven and there is no more need for hope. So your story doesn't really have a happy ending, but that's the point: without Jesus there is no happy ending. And there's nothing wrong with having a Christian album that doesn't end on a happy note IMO. Not every message needs to end with "ain't it all great that some of us believe?" Sometimes they should end with a little gloom and doom, some fire and brimstone! 

My thoughts exactly. However, it could be a come back from the dead experience like "Heaven Is For Real" except this person was seeing what hell would be like instead. There's a book out just like that though the title escapes me now. Anyway, then the person would have a second chance to accept Jesus before it really is too late.

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JLE3

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Thu Nov 17, 2016 9:22 am

Now you two are really making me think! Or I should say re-think. Lots to consider here. If you ever do remember the book you are referring to would you let me know?
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ishmael81

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Thu Nov 17, 2016 10:09 am

So I listened to it last night with my earbuds and to be honest, I heard most of what topshot noted above. The drums (especially the highs) sound dead and the vocal processing sounds muddy.
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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Thu Nov 17, 2016 10:11 am

I'm a little late to this party, but I hope you don't tweak the reverb on the vocals too much because I really like the effect based on what it sounds like you are going for.  

I agree with most of what topshot said.  As for the ending, I think can work as is if you are transitioning directly into another song.  If it is a stand-alone song, then I would definitely give it some closure by returning to the acoustic/keyboard sound from the beginning.

Honestly, I think you would have to be really careful about the back from the dead scenario as that could go really cheesy pretty easily.  I personally would stick with the gloom over that.  It seems you don't want to let the cat out of the bag as far as what that "uplifiting" ending might be, but I can see a possible idea that gets you there.
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JLE3

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Thu Nov 17, 2016 10:18 am

Quote :
I hope you don't tweak the reverb on the vocals too much because I really like the effect based on what it sounds like you are going for.  


Thanks messiaen77

Finally someone who likes my reverb!

Point taken on the story. PM me if you have something in mind. You're right. I don't want to spill all of the beans here on the forum Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Thu Nov 17, 2016 11:48 am

This reminds me a bit of My Darkest Time from Macedonia, which I really like. Thumbs Up
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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:42 pm

It was a combination of 2 books actually. "23 Minutes in Hell" which was a vision given to Bill Wiese and "To Hell and Back" by Maurice Rawlings who's a doctor that wrote on NDEs.

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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:44 pm

Quote :
It was a combination of 2 books actually

Thanks. I'll check them out.
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PostSubject: Re: Defy The Demons   Thu Nov 17, 2016 6:24 pm

I don't think I would be the best person to give advice on this.  I just am not a big fan of doomy stuff like this.  It just is so downer. 

The vocals do have too much effect.  Also, some variation on the way she sings could help make her delivery seem less phoned in. 

Topshot was talking about the kit not having enough high end.  For me, the cymbals would cause much ear fatigue with a longer listen.  I would turn the whole kit down just a smidge and back the cymbals down.   Those will excite some when this is mastered.  You can't turn down instruments that are too loud or harsh in mastering.  It can be brought out more, though.

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