Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Bowling For Tentacles & Mail This To Siberia"

Monday, day 13.

I´m not sharing any names, but one of the guitar players didn´t show up to play his missing parts this morning. Luckily, the other one performed those as well, so when I got to the studio everything was played just as asked, with some extra awesome stuff as well. So kudos for this other guy!

The rest of the day was spent by editing the bass. Playing some parts again, making it sound like it should and finally having MAJOR problems with the tuning, I used all my professionality I could possible have to tune the parts digitally. Then we realized that Tundra´s bass playing wasn´t actually that bad at all, but the autotune had actually fucked up the timing in most of the places, so the more we used it the more the timings went astray. The joys of digital signal processing, I guess.
At the end we had a perfectly pitched bass- track.... which was played like someone who just got his first bass guitar.
After hours, bugged Pro Tools and tons of "FUCK THIS, delete, start from scratch" we finally got it sounding right like it was performed in the first place. And before you ask, no, there was no fucking way we´d play those songs again from scratch. Using 4 hours for editing is less than using 12 hours for playing AND editing.

We got home at 1AM- No keyboards were done due to the bass editing,but at least we sound now like we should.

Tuesday, day 14.

So, with all the "band" now finally done, lagging behind for only three days, it was finally time for me to do something else than edit, repair, instruct, scream and cry. So, enter the keyboards! FINALLY.

We rigged my (t)rusty N364 with Virta´s two better hi- end Korgs and started to ruin all the songs. That was so fucking fun compared to that hell I´ve been through for the last two weeks.

We first layered the "basic" stuff from my N364- Analog Pad, Choir and Strings. Seriously, the strings just sound so good in that machine. It´s the exactly same sound that e.g. Nightwish, Bal- Sagoth and Dimmu Borgir have used, and afaik, Tuomas Holopainen still uses.
Fun trivia: If you got access to that machine (or X3/ X5), pick up Prog C07- "The Strings" and start playing "Mourning Palace". You´ll be surprised. Not to mention that one...whatever, "Festival!" or something, which is exactly this sound. Hailz for creativity.

My wild guess is that back in the mid 90´s when me and countless of other metal keyboard players had access only to one piece of equipment, we got the best overall synth with a reasonable price, thus ending up getting that particular piece which was very popular. However, the number one rule of keyboard players:


Get it? Seriously. Never use them. On the other hand, we found out that Jeremy Soule has a Korg as well. Shame on you for laziness, Jeremy. Then again, we used it for too. We also used some Nintendo- sounds just because it turned Lolbster into a platformer game from the late 80´s. And then it started to sound like Giana Sisters. Yet, even though we love to take the piss on everyone, we´re not actually putting them that audible, so fear not. We´ll still be sounding like Finntroll instead of playing some uninspiring Göteborg- metal with occasional C64- sounds glued on top. No names mentioned.

After playing keys for Blodsvett (using Shakuhachi as a "old school Finntroll tribute I could swear I´d see Somnium clapping his hands for this one"!), Kyyppari (ended up sounding like a Turkish scifi- movie from the 60´s at some parts. Black Metal, no compromise!) and Kylskåp (Ever thought what happens if Demented are Go, Darkthrone and Nightwish clashed together?) , I went to visit home quickly (I live only 12 kilometers from the studio), had dinner with my wife, went to sauna, shaved face and head, and got back to the studio where Vreth already had started to do the vocals. The joys of recording near home. :D

I wasn´t very fond of the vocal sound so we sat down and started to tweak it into more violent. In the end we went with a guitar distortion plugin (!!!) and a compressor so tight you could hear the guy fart in the next room as loud as Vreth screams. The result sounded so uncannily aggressive that we decided to go for it as a template. We did vocals for Blodsvett and Kylskåp as well and headed home at 1:30 AM.

Wednesday, day 15.

I got vacation from work for today, so I headed straight to the studio and started to edit the trumpet and trombone takes. Virta got there half an hour later, and Vreth followed soon. I brought the upright bass track for Piraatti which I had recorded at my office (!!), imported it in and started to lay keyboards for Piraatti with Virta. We had some akward ideas, tested many, and finally started arranging the keys more to suit the upcoming vocal lines. That was one helluva task, yet rather fun. You see, we just got the lyrics for it, and realized that they are not fitting the way we thought they´d do, so we started to think how to "fill the blanks" in the chorus with keyboards.
 After finally getting Piraatti sounding like it should, we ruined Lolbster with all sorts of cheesy organs, 8- bit sounds and horns and whatnot. Then I ended up playing all cool shit into Halkodisko, including something so weird I´ll leave it as a surprise. Let ´s just say that our metal got even more black with this one.

After amusing ourselves with the keys, it was Vreth Tiem. We did vocals for Kyyppari and Lolbster and started to get rather hysteric at some point, after working for 13 hours in a row. We heard Vreth singing lines like "Vi skinka, vi gurka", "Penetratzioon" and whatnot, but finally got everything sounding perfect. Little whipping, little whiskey and he´s topping himself once again. Halkodisko started to sound a bit tired at some point (you try to scream 3 hours in a row at night and let´s see how your voice sounds like, hehe) so we decided that it´s 1:20AM and we should probably hit home after doing a 15+ hour workday.

When we got off from the studio, I realized it was freezing, extremely windy and there was snow everywhere. I dropped Tundra home and drove small roads back home, at max 40 km/h. Every turn was like bobsledding, and I certainly don´t need a smashed, unusable car at this moment. Some World of Warcraft soundtrack on the background, and we ended up chatting with Tundra about....yep, World of Warcraft for the whole trip. Hey, it´s very nice counterpart for doing metal for the whole day.

Got home at 2:10AM, remember pressing the snooze- button at 8AM.... woke up 9:20 with a phone on my hand. FUCK!  Looked out of the window. More snow. FUUUUUUUUUUUUU.
Had to get tires changed and ended up being at the office at 11 instead of 9. Fuck yeah.


  1. >It seems that keyboards process is going with less pain & effort compared to Nifelvind? Or so it seems when both blogs are compared :)

    >Lolbster is going to be favourite song :)

    P.S.: I think I don't quite get the message of NEVER. USE. LAYERED. PRESETS. ALONE. Meaning?..

  2. Well, same shit, different album. :D This time we´re purposedly taking the "extra shit" from keyboards away because there are so much other things for the listener to hear. That´s why it´s also quite relaxed.

    My CAPSLOCK comment meant that in keyboards, there are these very "recognizable" sounds and presets made especially for that keyboard. Even though it´s tempting to use a ready- made superduper multisound in your song intro, I suggest doing it yourself instead of using a ready- made preset which can be heard right away. When you use them "in the song" it´s not that recognizable, but alone played you can hear right away it´s a "Preset" sound. Get it?

  3. Ah, then it's the word "alone" that embarrassed me in the sentence.

    And yes, I quite agree. Plus, it's extra fun tuning the sound like you want it to be in this very song recorded (and same with live).

    Btw, if I may ask, how many sounds does Virta use in live shows? As far as I recall the 2009 show in St:Petersburg, keys have little to do with the sound on the album. I'm usually using 2 or 3 throughout my gigs, with 4 additional unique ones at certain songs.

  4. Virta is using quite many, actually. Prolly something like 4-8 per song, is my guess as that´s how I used to run the show.
    But it also depends heavily on the song. While Vätteanda goes well with one sound throughout, songs like Nattfödd or Födosagan run something like 7-8 if I remember correctly. 3-4 is probably enough for most of the songs in Finntroll as well, if you don´t want to get all "hifi". :D

  5. Do you count a split-keyboard sound as 1 or 2? I mean left hand playing some pads and right hand the melody with other sound.

    If it's counted as 1, then it's very-very many for live gig in my opinion :) For my songs played live I'm making as less in-song sound changes as possible - for shaking head and other show stuff's sake. And it seems now I know why Virta is always so focused :)

  6. My ex-keyboardist boughtan X-5D for exactly this reason! *in bizarre ukrainian accent* "Dude! Is total Mourning Palace sound. Check it out." Neeed one of those.