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, 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