Sunday, September 9, 2012

Name Your Price

The whole concept of 'name your price' is an ever-growing trend in the music industry, especially among indie or solo artists. Ideally, it's a concept that I have come to terms with, and agree with.

I've decided to make my album 'name your price', and here's why:

I write and record music for the love of writing and recording music. I'm not in it for the money. I'm in it for the true passion of sharing my music with other bands and artists. If I was in it for the money, I would sell out with country music, or pop, or some other emotionless, talentless radio-laden drivel nonsense and milk the cash cow. No thanks.

I won't lie; profits from my music are always nice and greatly appreciated. But, I have a day job. I already get a paycheck to pay the bills and provide for my loved ones. Would it be nice to provide and pay the bills as a full-time musician? Of course it would! But right now, that's not the case. And with my preferred choice of music style, it may never be the case. This is why I have alternate career paths that I'm working for.

The only thing that I do plan on spending a good amount of money on, is to get physical copies of the album pressed. Any money that I make through the generosity of the fans will go towards that goal.

The main thing I am seeking is exposure. Getting Algarothsyum's name out there. I would love a growing, dedicated fan base. People who genuinely enjoy my music, and are enthusiastic about all of Algarothsyum's music to come. Everything else will follow over time, and I'm a firm believer of that.

So, if you wish to download a copy of my album, you certainly may. If you are feeling generous and you wish to donate a few bucks for the album, it would be greatly appreciated. What I truly want is the exposure. Tell your friends or other bands about Algarothsyum. Tell anyone who you think will enjoy my music, and send them to my pages to see for themselves. Tell them to feel free to stop by my Facebook and say hello, and thanks for the album.

I get satisfaction out of knowing that there are people out there that truly enjoy my music. Hearing about it truly makes my day.

Thank you for your support, especially to those who have already spent money on the album. And be sure to check back often, because the next Algarothsyum release is being written as we speak!

You can download the album here, at Bandcamp: Algarothsyum - Wastelander's Epoch
Algarothsyum on Facebook

- Vhyle

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Updates, Updates, and More Updates

As you may be able to tell, I haven't posted a new entry in several months. Well, what can I say? I've been busy! A few more music endeavors are underway.

I've been friends with John Ryan from Astral Throne for a few years now. I've always had strong admiration and respect for his music. If you aren't familiar, Astral Throne is John's metal solo project which is of a very similar dystopian, dark, atmospheric vein as Algarothsyum's music is. Naturally, we have a lot in common. Fast forward a few years, he felt that his drum programming wasn't really up to snuff to what he wants it to be, so he asked me to join the project. Of course, I obliged. So now, I'm officially a member of Astral Throne, taking over the drums and percussion duties. So far, our collaborating sounds very promising! We both maintain pretty busy lives, so our material doesn't exactly get written and finished quickly. But what we have worked on so far is pretty awesome, to say the least. There are no dates or any news pertaining to a release of recorded material yet, but give it time. We do have some material underway. More details pertaining to the project's origins, ideals and concepts will also be revealed over time.

In other news, I'm in the midst of writing the next Algarothsyum album. The tracks are very well advanced in the songwriting stage. In the next month, I'll be moving into a much larger house, and I will finally have my full recording rig setup and ready to roll. As soon as I'm done moving, recording of the next album will start. I have no official release dates yet, but I'm shooting for January 2013. The reason why I'm going for a release date that soon, is because there is a possibility I may be deploying overseas early next year. I want to have another solid album/EP released before I go. Depending on the recording progress and the time crunch, the next album may be an EP, but I'm shooting for a full length. All it takes is some dedication. So be sure to check back often on the Algarothsyum Facebook page (link below) for the new album updates! I won't reveal too much yet, but I will say that the new material is heavier, faster, darker, more atmospheric and a bit more technical. Fans of the first album will surely enjoy the next one.

And in other other news, depending on my iffy deployment, I plan on signing up for online courses with Berklee College of Music in January. I've done a lot of research for online music courses, and Berklee looks like the way to go. Berklee is the most prestigious music college there is, and I can't wait to dig into their coursework. I plan on taking the Master's in Guitar and Production.

To sum it up - I've been preparing to move to another house, writing new material for the next Alg album, Apokalypsos and Astral Throne. And hopefully, soon enough, I'll be enrolled in Berklee's online classes. This is the first time I've been involved in multiple projects in a few years. It's a busy workload, but I love it.

Music is my passion! It can only get better from here.

- Vhyle

Here are the links to my current involvements:
Astral Throne on Facebook
Algarothsyum on Facebook
Apokalypsos

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Apokalypsos

Time to talk about another appointed musical endeavor - Apokalypsos.

What is it?

Apokalypsos is a post-apocalyptic MMO video game that's under development, by Lethal Concept LLC. The project started several years ago, and it's under development by a handful of great people on a completely volunteer basis. The group is largely consisted of Auto Assault "refugees", who are upset (still!) about Auto Assault's ultimate demise. Myself included. If you don't know what Auto Assault is, do some googling and read up on it. It was a unique, excellent MMO that unfortunately didn't have the subscriber support, which led to its doom.

I'm part of the music/audio development team for Apokalypsos. I actually joined the team initially in 2009, and recorded a few tracks for the project. But, from late 2010 to earlier this year, I had to take a long hiatus. That period of time was a pretty rough point in my life, and I had to take a break.

But obviously now things are much better. Earlier this year, I talked to Sigoya (the lead developer) and had a good chat with him. After catching up, I learned that that time period was rough for a lot of other people (which makes sense, with the economy and job issues that were prevalent at that time). Long story short - I asked him if I could join the team again and start writing some new tunes for the project. Lo and behold, I'm back on the team!

I have a setlist on my Soundcloud account of all the things I've recorded for the project, past and present. The descriptions in each track dictate when the tracks were recorded.

Here's the setlist: http://soundcloud.com/algarothsyum_vhyle/sets/apokalypsos-tracks/

You can also find the original version of "Travelling Song". That song was actually written and recorded for this project back in 2009. But, I loved how the song turned out originally, I decided to re-record it and use it on the debut Algarothsyum album as the finisher.

Of course, I'm not the only one contributing tunes to the project. There's another musician, Kel Sonix, that has contributed a larger portion of music to the project in my absence. He writes some excellent stuff. He takes a more electronic approach to the tracks. He's no stranger to recording and releasing material, as he's been on several other projects as well. You can follow him through my Soundcloud account as well (K.A. AUDIO).

You may have noticed a theme here. I love post-apocalyptic music. Algarothsyum is based on a post-apocalyptic theme, and so is Apokalypsos. And I'm certain there will be more p/a projects that I will dabble in over the years. Who knows what they may be? Regardless, it's my favorite theme.

Being on the Apokalypsos team has been an awesome experience, and I look forward to continuing my work with the rest of the team.

Link to the Apokalypsos site: http://www.apokalypsos.com/index.html
The site isn't updated very often, but you can read about the project there.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Wastelander's Epoch

Well, I'm a bit overdue on this post, so forgive me. But if you haven't heard, the debut Algarothsyum album is out! It was released May 1st, 2012.

The album is titled "Wastelander's Epoch". It's comprised of 11 tracks, spanning a total of 61 minutes. The music is, of course, instrumental in nature. The atmosphere is very dark, melancholic and is intended to paint a mental image of life and times in the wasteland. Since there is a lack of vocals and lyrics, the visual interpretation is completely up to the listener, which I feel offers more "listening freedom" to the fans.

I've been promoting the hell out of this album since the release, so there's really not much more I can say about that on this post, promotion-wise. But I will use this blog post to talk about the making of the album, for those of you who are curious to know how it was crafted.

The album was recorded from October 2011 to April 2012. The first four tracks appeared on the demo originally, so those were recorded fairly quickly. The rest of the material was roughly 60% pre-written, and 40% written during the recording process. There were a lot of riffs that were composed during the recording process, especially during the Wastelander's Epoch 4-track suite. To me, this mix of recording pre-written riffs and improvised riffs works best. A lot of people start recording when everything is 100% written, but I've noticed that this is less efficient for me. I'm always very happy with the result with this kind of approach to recording, so this formula works for me. I have a lot of composed riffs and ideas crafted together, but never a 100% complete song before recording. It often gets finished along the way. I feel like I come up with better songs this way.

The order went like this: 1) rhythm/clean guitars, 2) bass, 3) ambient/sound effects, 4) drums, 5) guitar solos, extra leads, any other additions. The solo to "A Journey, Part I" was pre-written, of course. I played it the same way on the album as I did on the demo. Most of the other solos and leads were improvised until a solid composition was formed.

Programming the drums was the most tedious task out of the whole process. I've made posts about it before so I won't say too much. I programmed the drums to closely mimic my playing style, down to the accents. But it's rewarding to hear the final result - very realistic, convincing drum tracks. The drums were programmed with Drumkit From Hell.

Recording, mixing and mastering was done entirely with Reaper 4.0. I've been using Reaper for several years now, and I'm extremely satisfied with the software. For its price-to-capability ratio, you can't beat it. I used Reaper (v3.xx) for the 2011 demo as well. I run Reaper on a cheap, no frills HP laptop (although I'm in the process of putting together a much more powerful desktop PC for recording). The guitars and bass were recorded through a Digitech guitar processor, through a USB input. No amps were used for the entire recording.

All songs are played in D-standard tuning, except for "Repose" and "Travelling Song", which are E-standard.

The artwork was also my creation. And yes, that is a picture of me holding one of my guitars.

I think that covers the jist of what the album is comprised of, and how it was made. If you haven't heard the album yet, go give it a listen on the various links below. The album is for sale on Bandcamp for a mere $7. This includes the 11 tracks of music, and a high-res wallpaper of the cover art. So far, the album has gotten really good reception. If you're a fan of any sort of metal or atmospheric music, you will definitely enjoy the album.

Album artwork:

LINKS
Buy a digital copy of the album on Bandcamp

Listen to the album on SoundCloud
If you're a SoundCloud user, feel free to follow me, as I am pretty active on that account.

When the funds are available, I plan on getting physical CDs pressed in limited numbers. But for now, the album is available digitally.

With all of that said, I hope you enjoy the album! I put a lot of hard work into making it, and I enjoyed watching it come together into a 61-minute journey. Feel free to leave comments on the album here, or anywhere on my pages.

Now I can take a small break from Algarothsyum, and focus more on other projects. Expect another blog post soon on my next projects! Check back often.

- Vhyle

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Ironbird Project

Since I'm running a blog now, I figured this would be a great time to talk about my guitar restoration project. I'm in the middle of restoring a BC Rich NJ Series Ironbird. My obsession with BC Rich guitars drove me to seeking down an Ironbird model a few years ago, no matter the condition. The one I came across happened to be a very poorly mistreated model, and was in desperate need of a teardown and redo.

Quick story about getting the guitar: my wife and I were driving around one day, and randomly decided to stop by a music/pawn shop we were driving by. As I parked the truck, I said "I wonder if they have an Ironbird... yeah right." Keep in mind, that I've been looking for an Ironbird for literally years, with no luck. Obviously I could have bought one on eBay, but always for an outrageous price. We walked into the shop, and there was a wall covered in guitars, in a midst of a maze of amps and cabs. I look up on the wall of guitars, and sure enough - the first guitar in the lineup is an Ironbird. So of course, I looked right at it. Unfortunately, it was badly mistreated. It was covered in an awful spraycan black-and-white camo paintjob, followed by an obscene amount of clear coat. The electronics are a huge mess; only one pickup worked. Intonation was off. After examining the pickup and switch configuration, and the antique Kahler Flyer tremolo, I determined it's an NJ Series Ironbird.

A large facepalm followed.

The price - $150. I had to have it. It needed a good home and a restoration, so I had to have it.

I bought the guitar back in 2009. As soon as I got it home, I dove right into it. The first steps - tearing down, gutting, and sanding.

Fast forward to today - the guitar is still in the sanding stage, but it's because life got in the way. I had to put it aside to take care of other issues around that time. But now that we're settled and moving forward again, I'm pulling the guitar back out, and finally carrying on with the restoration.

Here are the beginning pics of the project.


How the guitar looked originally. Looking at the pics, the custom paintjob doesn't honestly look half bad. But trust me - the photos play trickery. The paintjob close up was quite atrocious.


The guitar, broken down. The spray camo left no square inch untouched. You can see how reflective the layers of clearcoat were.


Inside the trem cavity - the paint layers underneath the top and clear coats were still wet! These bits in the corners flaked right off, revealing the original red paint. This custom paintjob was just caked on with no time to properly set.


All the layers are revealed - factory base coat, factory red paint, custom paint base coat, and custom spray paint coats. Unbelievable.


The beginning stages of sanding. Fortunately, the contours and edges are very well preserved. Used BC Riches are notorious for having some damage on the many jagged points of the neck and body, this is not quite the case for this guitar. The sanding took a LOT of effort, as you can see.


You can see how much material has already accumulated on the bench. This was roughly halfway through. It only got worse after this.

These pics were taken in the summer of 2009, when we lived in Georgia. I had a house with a shed, which was my work space for this project. Since I no longer have a place at my home to work on this, I have to take the guitar to work and work on it when I get a chance. I'm very eager to continue this project, and it's hard to find a chance to work on it. So, progress will be slow but sure. The guitar is 95% sanded now, as you can see. The bulk of the heavy sanding is done.


It's getting there. Just a little bit more sanding. I'm having to use an electric rotary tool and a steady hand on the pickup, bridge and service cavities. No, the random piece of thread on the floor is not part of the project.

The next step: I'm having the fretboard removed and replaced with an ebony fretboard, with no inlays. I'm going with the professional route on that, since I lack the resources to properly replace a fretboard.

Check back for updates! This project is up and running again, after sitting stagnant for nearly 3 years. The final product will be well worth the wait. I already have a color scheme in mind, and will be ordering the paint in the next few weeks. As far as the electronics go, I haven't decided yet on the pickups. Should I stick with the stock NJ Series-era hums, or go with something hotter? I may swap them for a more modern pickup, since I want this guitar to be a crushing metal monster. I haven't done any research on that yet, so I'll touch back on that at a future date.

- Vhyle

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Vision Without a Voice

After some contemplation, I've decided to make Algarothsyum into a full-on instrumental project. A few reasons:

Right now, I simply don't have the necessary equipment to record vocals properly. I would have to record them in the same fashion as I did on the demo, which is pretty insufficient. I don't really have the resources to get the proper equipment now or in the near future. Renting studio time to record vocals is definitely out of the question.

I haven't finished lyrics. I have an extremely hard time conjuring up lyrics to convey exactly how the story unfolds. I have to be in a very certain mindset to write lyrics, and it almost never happens. My mindset to write the music itself in a post-apocalyptic manner is almost always there, though. I'm always coming up with riffs and ideas for mood-setting, atmospheric music to travelling the wastes. I severely lack in the lyrical creativity department. My brain works the best with sounds, not words.

I think that the flowing, melancholic atmosphere that the music usually provides, is easily broken up with vocals - especially death or black metal vocals. I know, if it's done right, it can be pulled off. Many bands have proven this before. But with the specific sound that I'm after, vocals just don't fit in, to me. I try to paint a vivid mental image of an epic wasteland landscape, living in it day after day, and dealing with anything that happens along the way. I feel that vocals tend to distract from that. Instrumental music allows the listener to have full personal interpretation, with their own mental image of what could possibly be happening in the music's setting.

Lastly, when I'm writing new riffs and arrangements, I NEVER think about how vocals will fit in. The way I tend to compose is progressive and instrumental in nature. It's just simply how my brain works when putting new music together. It's somewhat hard to explain, I guess. My brain is wired a certain way when it comes to music, and this is the result.

With that said, I think my music and its moods are plenty enjoyable without vocals. In fact, in regards to the "Spiraling to Realization" demo, I've had several people tell me they prefer the instrumental tracks over the one track that had vocals. Maybe I'm just bad at vocals? Who knows! It's all up to the listener.

In a nutshell: Algarothsyum has gone full instrumental. With that said, this will greatly accelerate the album's release. I'm projecting mid-May for the release.

-Vhyle

Monday, April 2, 2012

Going Outside the Comfort Zone

Last week, I decided to do something a little different. I very briefly took a break from recording the Algarothsyum album, and decided to record a cover song. But it's the type of song I picked, and my approach to it, which essentially made me step outside the comfort zone somewhat.

I picked a track from the Soulcalibur IV Original Soundtrack. I went with "Gigantesque", which is the background music on the Tower of Remembrance, if I'm not mistaken. Ever since I started playing the Soulcalibur series games, one of my most favorite features of all the games is the musical scores. There's been many different composers over the course of the game series, but I owe them all gratitude for showing me a whole new level of video game music. I've always liked well-written video game music, but the Soulcalibur music reached a new level for me. So, I wanted to take a shot at playing it myself.

The particular track I chose is one of the tracks that sticks out the most to me, from the fourth game in the series. So I wanted to record my own take on it. What I did was listen to the track in Windows Media Player, and at times, utilized the variable playback rate feature. I slowed the song down on a few sections, so I could hear exactly what was being played. This of course wasn't necessary for the whole song, though, but it came in handy for the very beginning riff, for example. I listened to the song, repeating sections at a time, and transcribing the music in GuitarPro. I went with using 4 guitars to capture what was being played. 2 guitars simply wouldn't be enough, and would yield a pretty simplistic cover, which I didn't want to do. I wanted to challenge myself more, by transcribing a 4-guitar arrangement and recording it in the same fashion.

Naturally, it contains quite a bit of counterpoint (which is a term in music theory, which I'll explain in a future lesson/post). Recording each guitar track, sections at a time, proved to be a pretty hefty task. Even though I recorded along to a click track (which I always do), it still proved to be a bit trick to keep each note and riff perfectly in sync. Another issue is keeping perfectly in tune during recording, with 3 other guitars. In the recording, there's a few bends and notes that are slightly off. I realize this, but I decided to leave them as they are. Normally I wouldn't do that, but this is my first attempt at recording something like this, so I didn't think being obsessive about such details was necessary. The final product came out pretty well, I think.

Mixing four intertwining electric guitars is also definitely challenging. Even though each guitar was recorded at the same input levels, the volumes sounded like they fluctuated constantly, when compared to each other. I think that could partially be an illusion. Certain notes in harmonies can always seem to be louder than other notes within that same harmony - this is no different, especially with a "busy" piece such as this one. So I had to increase and decrease levels, riff by riff, to achieve a better balance. It's still not perfect, but as I said before, I wasn't shooting for perfection on this.

Finally, I added drums to it - programmed, of course. I went with a basic kit, and programmed some run-of-the-mill metal drumming. Nothing spectacular or original; just something to complement the piece in a metal fashion. Including the particularly black metal-sounding outro. I couldn't resist!

No effects were used anywhere; there was no point. Just 4 guitars, a drum track and level adjustments. That's all.

I probably babbled on a little too much about this one recording, but I felt like sharing anyway because this is my first attempt at recording something like this. To summarize: it was definitely challenging, but rewarding. I fully intend on recording more songs like this. The lesson here is to not be afraid of getting out of your comfort zone as a musician. It's an old mantra, I know, but I can't stress it enough. If you do something that's unusual to you, and have a positive experience doing it, you WILL greatly benefit from it. I promise. Whether the end result is good or bad, you'll get something out of it that will only solidify your abilities as a musician.

You can hear the cover on SoundCloud and YouTube. Feel free to comment on this recording!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Recording Update #5

In a nutshell - the album is almost finished! The biggest element that needs to be finished is the vocals. I've recorded vocals on one track already, but I'm not sure if I'm satisfied with how they came out. I'm recording them in a pretty unconventional method, so I'm trying to see if I need to re-do them in a different manner or not. But at any rate, the last element needed is the vocals. Right at this very moment, however, I can't do them, since I'm recovering from oral surgery. In the next few days, I'll be back in the game.

After that, there will be some final finishing touches, effects and anything else that I see fit. As of today, I'm still waiting on contributions from guest musicians. Once those are added in, it will be awesome.

I went ahead and released an instrumental track from the album, titled "Travelling Song". The title says it all - the song depicts a mental image of travelling down a long, barren road through the wastelands. It portrays a very vast, open atmosphere. The song is actually the album's closer. It's a bit more melodic and straightforward than the rest of the album. When you hear it, just don't forget that the rest of the album will still be quite death metal. I've provided a link below to listen to the new track, via Soundcloud.

Just check the pages often for more updates!

Click to listen to "Travelling Song", from the upcoming debut album.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Food for Musical Thought

A friend and I were having a conversation the other night about reading sheet music, then the conversation evolved into a discussion about being a music professor. It got me thinking on several aspects of playing music, as well as obviously teaching music and concepts. So, I'm going to convey these thought processes through a several-part series of posts in my blog. I hope you readers don't mind me being a bit semi-philosophical. As a musician, I believe it's healthy and natural to dig into your own mind every once in a while, and thoroughly dissect why you play what you play, why you listen to what you listen to, and other related factors. Everyone who has been playing and listening to music extensively has gone through these phases; maybe more than once. It's natural. Music opinions and preferences evolve and change through the course of time. A musician's approach to their respective instrument(s), their skill sets, and opinions evolve as well. It's completely natural, and a part of human nature. In fact, anyone who is resistant or in denial about the evolution of their mindsets on music are fooling themselves, and are only hurting themselves in the long run. Such behavior is detrimental, and severely hinders improvement in their skills.

As mentioned before, the conversation we had made me really ponder what I would focus on, if I were to become a music professor. Before I continue, I'll throw out a quick disclaimer: I consider myself a pretty good musician, proficient on both drums and guitar. But I am not claiming to be an expert or virtuoso, by any means. In the 14 years and 11 years I've spent on drums and guitar (respectively), of course I've formulated many opinions and directions of approach to music and the instruments. It's all part of the learning process. That process continues to this day, and it will for as long as I'm playing. I'm simply going to share my thought processes on the vast spectrum of music. Every musician has their own style; their own theories and methods of practice; their own approach to arrangements and compositions. I'm just going to explain how I do it. I will never tell anyone what's right and what's wrong. No two players are alike - one of the many wonderful observations in music.

So to continue - if I were a music professor, what would I cover? Here would be my first lesson.

Lesson 1: Turn off the radio.

This lesson actually serves several purposes. One of them is to urge students to go out, research and discover unknown talents. The student may observe as many instruments as they wish. Seek out music that is not popular. I believe a vast majority of the music played on the radio is very bland, formulaic and brings very little to the table as far as creative musical arrangements. Of course, that is my opinion. My intent has never been to force my opinion and my belief on anyone else. This lesson would simply encourage the students to branch out of the 'radio comfort zone', and explore new musical directions. Listen to genres that they aren't familiar with. If the student wishes to compare today's radio hits against songs of an unknown talent, I would greatly encourage that as well. Of course, not EVERYTHING on the radio is meaningless. The mainstream radio is simply a result of years of overbearing management and executives, telling and/or paying the artists what to play, shadowing their true musical capabilities. Discovering unknown talents can show the student pure musical freedom and expression; the musicians play what they want, and what they can. They have no hindrances; nothing holding them back. I would strongly emphasize musical freedom and expression, and I believe that the mainstream radio is the last place to look for such values.

A huge emphasis on musical freedom and compositional freedom plays a strong part in the following lessons that I've been brainstorming. The desire to simply practice and write what you want is one of the biggest, most important values you can have as a practicing musician. I will cover this extensively in a future lesson. Listening to these small-time talented musicians playing what they play best, in the most natural uninhibited form they can. This can range from solo jazz artists in small time clubs, undiscovered/unsigned Youtube artists, or local rock or metal bands of varying influence, and anything in between. There are many sources at the fingertips of anyone who has internet access.

My point is that there is an incalculable amount of unsigned, undiscovered, and under-appreciated talent that should be heard by musicians far and wide. A lot of them have plenty to offer in musical value; much more than a large majority of the mainstream radio. Turn off the radio, and stop giving it so much attention. You will find artists that you feel deserve more of YOUR attention, for whatever reason. You fill find artists that will influence your approach to your instruments in substantial ways, and your playing and skill base will greatly benefit from it. Just pick a genre, and start researching through all the sources you have at your disposal. After that, pick another genre and do it all again. After that, pick a genre that you know virtually nothing about, and explore it. You will wade through artists that you won't like, but you will also come across artists that will speak to you in ways you didn't imagine.

I feel that the experience gained through such a lesson will effectively get the creative juices flowing. When you go pick up your instrument, you'll feel it.

The next post I make in this series will reflect on approaches to practicing. It won't be covering exercises or anything like that - it will be discussing theories and methods of practice.

- Vhyle

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Recording Update #4

Last week, I finished composing and recording the final solo for the track "Travelling Song", which is the final track of the album. Basically, the last solo of the album. I'm excited on how it came out, and I can't wait for you people to hear it. I think it's a perfect way to end the album, and I hope you'll agree when you hear it.

As it stands, all of my guitar solos are completed. I'm awaiting some guest solos to be recorded and sent back to me, which I greatly look forward to. My next step is to record all extra atmospheric textures and layers. There will be a lot of experimentation with effects and ambiance on the album. I feel that for an album reflecting such a strong emphasis on the post-apocalypse, ambiance and atmospheric elements are extremely important. As I've said in the past, my goal is to paint a vivid picture in the listener's head, depicting the day-to-day life in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

And of course, I need to record vocals. That hopefully won't take too much time. I already have lyrics written for three more tracks, on top of "A Journey of One, Pt. I" from the demo (since that is the only track with vocals on the demo). All I need is to write lyrics for the title track, and then record all vocals. I hate to admit that writing lyrics is my absolute least favorite thing to do. I struggle the most with it. But that's ok... I'll manage to portray the story the best I can. I'll get it done.

I'm still debating on how the album will be initially released, whether it will be digital download first, or physical presses first. Getting CDs pressed can be pretty pricey, so a person on a budget would have a hard time getting such an order fulfilled. That's why I'm entertaining the idea of making it available for digital download first. But no solid decisions have been made yet, and you folks will be the first to know when the time comes.

That's all I have for now. To summarize - the album is very close to being finished! A lot of hard work has gone into it so far, and I hope the fans will get the most out of the final product. Stay tuned for more updates.

- Vhyle

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Djent - the next generation of metal?

Anyone who stays involved in the world of metal, especially online, can easily observe that "djent" is most likely the next big thing in the genre. Before I continue to elaborate, I'll briefly cover what djent is, for those who don't know.

Djent metal is a subgenre of metal that has quickly gained popularity over the last few years. The word "djent" is coined by Fredrik Thordendal of Meshuggah. The word is used to describe the sound of a palm-muted guitar riff, basically. The genre's defining features are very driving, palm-muted, polyrhythmic guitar riffs on 7- and 8-string guitars, typically in sync with the drummer's kick drums. 8-string guitars are known to be the standard format for djent. While the guitars and kick drums maintain odd-time riffs, the main time signature often remain straight 4/4 or 6/8 time signatures, provided by the drummer's snare and cymbals. Another large defining portion of the music is derived from jazz and fusion influences. The rhythms are often fairly technical, mathematical and complex. Vocals are often quite similiar to hardcore bands, but in some cases lean more towards death metal growl ranges. The inclusion of hardcore vocals has in fact spawned arguments about "djent" being more of a style of guitar playing and not a genre which I disagree with. Djent metal bands have also had an abundance of keyboard and electronic parts in the music as well, and have become more dominant as the genre has progressed lately. Most themes among djent bands are sci-fi or philosophical.

Bands/projects like Meshuggah, Sikth, and Periphery are typically considered the pioneers of the genre. Today, there are dozens of djent bands, all gaining quick popularity as the genre itself becomes much more recognized in the metal world. I could only name a small handful of bands myself, as I'm still discovering lots of bands in the genre. There are several very large resources online that will easily introduce you into the world of djent, such as The Djent-leman's Club, League of Extraordinary Djentlemen, and got-djent.com, to name a few.
So, the big question is - is this the next big step in metal? In the grand scheme of things, I believe it is. I believe it's the next route for mainstream metal to take. Nu-metal seems to be slowly rotting away, and djent will be taking its place. Theoretically speaking, it makes perfect sense for djent metal to set the new standard. Why? Because in music theory, there is only so much you can do with standard time signatures, rhythms and the 12 notes in modern music (I say "modern" to exclude microtonal, and the like). With as much as I love black and death metal, there is ultimately a limit on what can be constructed with the standard time signatures and rhythms involved in that style of music. Look at the song structuring in djent metal - polyrhythms is the biggest thing that stands out. Two or more separate rhythms being performed simutaneously. Once you start writing in that foundation, you unlock a whole new level of rhythmic styles and abilites. Many, many, many more combinations (maybe infinite!) can be created using polyrhythmic structures. A lot of musicians have a hard time grasping the concept of polyrhythms and odd timing, and usually just don't bother with it. I think that's a shame, because there is a whole new world of possibilites in djent metal. At first it seems complex, but after you study how polyrhythms work and you figure them out, it will make a whole lot of sense, and you start engaging a new, fresh approach to songwriting. It takes at least two different sets of rhythms to create a polyrhythm, but three or more has definitely been done. Meshuggah is arguarbly the first metal band to bring polyrhythms to light. Once people caught on to what they were doing, it took off, and fast. Of course, the theory of polyrhythms isn't new - in fact, it's been around for centures in other cultures. But when we are talking up-and-coming popular metal, it's just beginning.

For the record, I love black and death metal. I will continue to do so. I will continue to write and record black/death metal (Algarothsyum, hint hint), to share my love for it. But I will admit that I am becoming quickly infatuated with djent metal, for the reasons listed above. It's refreshing; different; a new approach to rhythms. It's technical. It makes me think. It engages my brain. When I start hearing djent riffs, the first thing I do is try to figure it out. I start listening to the polyrhythms, and start couting them in my head. It catches my attention, and I think it should for many other metal musicians.

I'm not saying that djent is the end all be all of metal - that will NEVER happen. Djent has exploded, and will continue to explode, but it will never push out the other genres of metal that have enjoyed decades of staying power, namely black and death metal. There will ALWAYS be realms of black and death metal bands coming and going. The fanbase and worldwide support for it is far too large for them to simply disappear. I think it will take many more decades for them to finally fade away for good (which of course will only lead to a resurrection years after!). As for me personally, I will continue to support black and death metal circles, because I love those genres quite a bit. There's many death and black metal acts out there that deserve the recognition, and many more that don't even have ANY recognition.

I've had the discussion about djent with a few fellow metal musicians. The consensus seems to be "djent is FALSE metal". I can understand why they say that, to be honest. But I don't agree with it. A lot of djent bands don't focus on themes about death, despair, gore, anti-religion, and other popular subjects that BM/DM bands focus on. Face it - these subjects have been beaten to death. It's almost impossible to be original on these typical subjects in today's world of metal. In other words - it's time to move on. We need some new wind. Djent just may be the next big craze to bring said wind.

Here is my message to all of my fellow death/black metallers - open up your mind! Metal is evolving, whether you choose to accept it or not. Again, I'm not saying to drop your support for current and old school metal acts. That is simply asinine to say so. I won't do it! There are too many black and death metal bands that I have enjoyed in the past and present to simply throw it all away. What I'm saying is, don't look away entirely from djent metal. Give it a chance, because it is quickly becoming a revolutionary style of music. If you are having a hard time digesting djent bands, take it slow. Vocals may throw you off a lot; to be honest, it does for me. I hate hardcore vocals, and there's a lot of djent bands out there that utilize them. But just look past that. Listen to the rhythmic complexity; the groove; the atmospheres; the textures. Djent metal offers many new layers of musical possibilities that lots of death and black metal bands never bothered to attempt. Djent is the next big wave, so don't be upset when you notice it getting more and more attention over your current favorite modern or old-school bands. Just note that it takes an extreme amount of talent to play a lot of djent; just as much as it does playing solid, tight death metal. It takes just as much dedication and hard work. Don't let it deter you because it just sounds different. Listen to it, take notes and embrace it. You will find some pretty awesome stuff out there.

Here are some notable mentions that I've grown quite fond of: Meshuggah (of course, been a fan for years), Animals as Leaders, Uneven Structure, Means End, Jakub Zytecki (guitarist for Disperse, whose next album will be djent-y), Periphery, Bulb, Chimp Spanner, Textures, Entities, RZXYZYXR, Skyharbor, Karnivool (to a lesser degree); the list goes on and on. Check out a few of these bands on Youtube and just give them a try. You just might like what you hear. I know I do, and I'm excited to hear what it brings in the future.

Honestly, I feel like I merely skimmed on the subject with this lengthy blog, but I think (and hope) I've made my point clearly enough.

- Vhyle

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Recording Update #3

Over these last two weekends, I've gotten quite a bit more work done to the upcoming Algarothsyum album. Here are the latest numbers:

Rhythm guitars - 100%
Drums - 100%
Bass - 70%

During these last two weeks, I've completely finished all the drum programming. It was quite tedious, but it was well worth all the work. Now that these songs have an even more solid foundation with the rhythm guitars and drums in place, these songs are sounding very good. So far, I'm quite pleased! This of course sets in more motivation to do more, and get the work done more quickly. This weekend alone, I began recording bass tracks, and I've already finished five songs. Only two more songs await the low-end assault.

After bass is finished, I'm moving on to more guitar parts, textures/effects for atmosphere, and of course, guitar solos. Following that will be vocals.

I've also asked a few friends to provide guest solo spots in a few of the tracks on the album. I figured that since Algarothsyum's overall sound is very large, vast and dark, it would yield an interesting twist here and there by implementing guest solos. The tracks are long enough; there is plenty of room for guest spots. I will announce these guest musicians at a later date.

I plan on announce a complete track listing, and album listing, in the very near future. Maybe as an incentive to increase hits on the project's multiple pages? We'll see!

Check back often for more updates!

- Vhyle

Next blog entry (maybe) - the evolution of today's metal, and what the future holds.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Matt Ebert - Hard Work vinyl

I received a sizable, cushy envelope in the mail the other day. Inside the envelope were a pair of freshly produced, colorful vinyl records and CDs. My friend and recording artist down in Georgia, Matt Ebert, just released his latest album in both vinyl and CD formats. It's entitled "Hard Work". A couple of years ago - 2009 if I recall, as I was still playing drums in Damnesia - Matt Ebert called me up and asked me if I wanted to record drums to one of the songs on the album. He told me was going to be a Black Sabbath cover, and I happily obliged. So I grabbed some sticks, and drove to Gainesville, GA, and tracked the drums. A few hours later, drums were recorded, and a few beers were consumed afterwards. It was fun, as always.

This is also the first time I've appeared on a vinyl record. It just may be the last as well, given how the music industry is progressing. But anyway, I think it's pretty awesome, and I'm proud to be a part of this record.

And of course, I owe many thanks to Matt Ebert and Allan Ray (producer) for giving me the opportunity to record with them and contribute to a piece of the record. If the opportunity arises, I'd be more than happy to do it again!

EDITED TO ADD: I do want to actually do a review of the music as well. That will come at a future date. Keep coming back for an album review.

Here are some pics of the record (sorry about the sizing):

Front artwork

Part of the tracklist. I recorded drums for "Hand of Doom", a Black Sabbath cover song.

Two more shots displaying the artwork:



There you have it. I'm honored to be a part of this vinyl, and I will proudly display it in my shrine of music in my house.

If you come across this record anywhere in a store or online, definitely pick it up. Show my friends some support, as well as snag some cool music to boot!

- Vhyle

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Quick Algarothsyum Update

And here we are, fresh into the year 2012. Lots of things to look forward to this year, and no, I don't mean the end of the world. That's a very far fetched theory that needs to dissipate altogether, but I digress.

As of right now, all rhythm guitars for the upcoming Algarothsyum album are recorded and finished. All the clean guitar tracks are finished as well, although a few might be redone, depending on how well they mix and EQ. The only remaining guitar additions that are needed, are solos and extra layers and textures. For atmosphere enhancement, of course.

I've been busy busy busy with the drum programming. They are coming out pretty awesome so far. As of right now, I've got drum tracks to three songs completely finished. I'm being extremely meticulous about the drum programming. I'm making them sound as human as possible, and closely mimicking my playing style, down to the accents and fills. And honestly I'm very impressed so far with it. These drums sound pretty realistic, and are just the perfect substitute to recording the real thing. I'm not in a situation where I can, since I've had to ship my drums down to Georgia for storage. But I make do with what I have. So far, so good.

This is my first stint at programming drums, and I will say that it is pretty damn tedious. It's hard work, but it pays off. The song "City of Ashes" (previously unreleased) clocks in at about 9:45 in its current pre-edit state. It took me about a week or so of solid work to finish the drum programming for it. But with enough time, coffee, and/or alcohol, it was finished. Just wait until I program the drums to the title track, which clocks in at about 25 minutes as of right now. Yikes!

Folks, I can't wait to start unveiling the new album... song clips, artwork, story lines, and so on; ultimately leading to the release of the album. If enough people care, I just may release the track listing and play times early.

I also need to get down and dirty with recording bass tracks, too. I'm currently borrowing a 5-string bass from a coworker, and I have it for a limited time. So in the next few weeks, I'll be knocking out bass tracks, as well as drum programming.

That's all for now, kids. Check back for new entries, and keep an eye on the Facebook and ReverbNation pages, as they are the most frequently updated.

- Vhyle