In March 2017 I went through the biggest change in my life since I moved out of my dad’s house 7 years ago. I moved about 200 miles north to Leeds having spent all my life in South London.
I moved for a number of reasons the biggest of these being the fact that I could afford to rent a 2 bedroom flat with my girlfriend for about £75 extra a month than what I paid for a room in London.
One problem with moving to a non-shared house is that most of the utilities aren’t in place and while most of these were sorted by the agent or utility company getting the internet was the hardest one to sort.
The lack of decent internet access (I could tether from my phone if I needed to) meant that I had to entertain myself in other ways. I looked through old projects and found something I could sink my teeth into — A chiptune / metal cover of Carbonised in Cruciform by The Black Dahlia Murder.
I started the cover about 3 years ago when I realised how I could switch the acoustic guitar parts for the gameboy but hit a bit of a speed bump when I started learning the Rhythm guitar parts so I spent the next 3 years playing the song casually but never really doing anything with it.
Crafting the right sound
One of the biggest issues I’ve had as a guitar player is my lack of experience when it comes to recording and mixing. I know the sound I want but I’ve always struggled to make the mono signal from my guitar into Logic sound like my guitar amp.
The type of sound I want to make is similar to the buzzsaw guitar Entombed are well known for, here’s a great video on how to achieve the sound.
But recreating this sound in Logic proved to be hard until I discovered a preset called Tone Blender which simulated a standard amp with a bunch of microphones hooked up to it. This allowed for better control over how the mono HM-2 signal going into Logic was turned into a stereo wall of sound.
Once I’d found a guitar tone I was happy with the next thing I had to tackle was how to get all the instruments sound well together. A friend of mine said the art of mixing is really to get all the instruments playing at the same volume so I set out to achieve this which was quite hard due to the bass being recorded a little too quiet so I had to completely re-record this.
Technical music is great until you have to play it
I love death metal be it the melodic or the technical kind but I only really discovered it 4 years ago. When I was a teenager I was really into grunge & hardcore punk and the songs I decided to learn on the guitar were mostly based around making the most abrasive noise you could.
I didn’t really get into metal until I was about 25. I’d always mocked it as most of the bands I’d been exposed to lacked a certain sense of consistency in the relentlessness of their sound. Avenged Sevenfold are one band that spring to mind here — great intros but as soon as it hits the chorus it basically becomes pop music.
The Black Dahlia Murder were the first band I found that really bucked that trend and I quickly consumed all of their work I could get my hands on. The next step to appreciating a work of art is to understand the techniques involved in creating it.
I kind of copped out with my cover of Carbonised in Cruciform as while I’d been playing the rhythm guitar part casually for a couple of years I’d never played it at full speed with a drum track. I quickly realised if I was going to finish it I would have to put some of the more technical stuff onto the Gameboy as LSDJ can shred without missing a beat.
I’m glad I did this though as I was able to learn how to do triplets in LSDJ something which I don’t doubt will really help me with further covers. It also meant the bends in the solo (there are a few) could have a little bit of gamey feel.
Here’s the final result
The best thing a fan can receive
Once I was relatively happy with my rendition of the song I decided to post it up on SoundCloud and sent a link over to the band. I expected to hear nothing back as they’re a big band but I got a reply and they retweeted my cover.
As a fan of a band for them to take the time to listen to your rendition of one of their songs and share that with their followers makes you feel so much more appreciation for them and their music. It also means when you go into work next you have a great response to ‘what did you get up to on the weekend?’