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God Complex
Created Sick

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Engineering, Mix & Master catered to by George Lever and Erik Bickerstaffe

Prelude

Every once in a while as a musician you come across music that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up – music that screams at you and stops you where you are, holding your attention until the song is over and you’re back in the room.

This is as accurate a description I can give for my experience when being introduced to God Complex.

Unrelenting, pure, aggression.

The makeup of this record is a very different way of working but one that created a result that is truly the sum of all its parts.

As always, the juicy details are down below.

Coffee, please!

Tracking

Preparation & Tracking

i.The Setup

Erik Bickerstaffe and James Lyon (GC drummer) reached out to me about this project as they wanted to initially entertain the idea of working live drums into the record.

As the conversations grew it became clear that a more interwoven approach would be needed along with a dividing of mix & mastering duties.

What was agreed is that Erik would produce the guitars/bass and vocals to the bands liking along with a ballpark programmed drum track. From there we would track live drums to these predetermined tones, I’d then sit with Erik and edit and mix the drums to his tones with his input and then finalise the mastering.

From the beginning of my involvement through to completion, we maybe spent 6 days. That covers tracking / final mix and master. It was amazing, the pace and energy. So amazing. 100% in the zone work. I loved it.

ii.Drums

James is an amazing drummer. Really really great.
Personally, I think we got a sound that is very ‘him’ and very God Complex. Rather than anything that could be considered ‘stock metal drums’.

We used the Guru Walnut kit at Middle farm for toms and the Tama Starclassic kick.
The snare is a Pearl Reference Brass – really great

Remo p77 was on the Snare top, and it’s likely that we used Evans G2’s for toms with Remo PS3 on the kick.

When setting up, my usual ‘go-to’ kick mic died on me, no idea why but it happens. So I had to quickly sub out my Audio Technica and replace it with a few different options until something stuck. We landed on an AKG D112 along with one of my Oktava mk012’s (which is modded to sound closer to a vintage km84). Individually each mic was a bit flat but had elements that I liked, the D112 had a lot of immediacy and thickness but the beater attack is always a bit… meh. The Oktava is closer to what you can expect from a condenser may be a bit more direct in sound with it being a small diaphragm. – I summed these two mics together and fed them into a Kush Electra to sculpt it and bring everything together, pretty thick and juicy by the time it hit the DAW.

Aside from the kick mic being temperamental, nothing else out of the ordinary happened with this session, the focus was purely on finalising great mic positions and ensuring the energy that James was putting into the kit was going to translate accurately through the recording.

I think this is also the first session I used my Softube Console 1 with SSL 4000 emulation to help balance the kit and bring it all together ITB. I bought the Console 1 after working for 2 weeks on an SSL G series. It’s a feeling and comfort I don’t really want to be without ever again (specifically when tracking). It’s a great workflow IMO.

So the console 1 was my halfway point to keeping this sense of the workflow from the large format desk. Just having something to hand to pull levels, EQ and compression without having to compromise is great. Once finding settings I liked, I then transferred some of these EQ and compression moves over to the outboard at Middle Farm.

After that, all the drum mix inc any parallel processing was catered to by the Softube Console 1!

iii.Guitars, Bass & Vocals

From what I know of Erik’s workflow, the guitars and bass are likely to be Line 6 PodHD tones. Really good ones at that.

I’ll have to pick his brains as to what his approach is here because I really haven’t heard a Pod sound this unique in a long time.
For vocals (I think) Erik used my SM7b, followed by clipping the living snot out of them until you could hear each breath and spit from Kyle.

Gear Used

Drums

Kit setup;
Kick – Tama Starclassic Bubinga – 22×16
Toms – Guru drums In-Tense Walnut – 14×14 & 16×16
Snare – Pearl Reference Brass – 14×6.5

Cymbals – all Sabian – (L-R from players perspective):

22″ Legacy Heavy Ride
20″ AA Raw Bell Crash
14″ AA Regular Hats
13″ AAX Fusion Hats
19″ Vault Saturation Crash (Vigil Donati signature)
19″ AAX X-treme China

Mic Selection;
Kick in – Oktava mk012 modded
Kick in 2 – AKG d112
Snare top – Shure Beta57
Snare top 2 – AKG C414 buls
Snare Bottom – Shure KSM32
Toms – MD421
Spot mics – SE4 & Oktava MK012
Overheads – AKG C414
Room Close – AEA R88
Room Far – AKG C414 (omni)

Mixing & Mastering

Erik Bickerstaffe and I catered to the mix once we got back to G1 HQ after the drum session.

Erik let me get to work on a drum mix that best conveyed the energy that James put into the session, we then started to look at the songs as a whole and tweaked the levels until everything started to become more cohesive.

In all honesty, this session was one of those off the cuff experiences where everything came together in unison. This happens as a result of careful consideration during Erik’s tracking stage and then approaching the drum tracking to ensure that it didn’t ‘sit’ oddly with the other elements when in its raw state. 

The most interesting part (for me) and most different was that we chose to mix into a mix bus compressor in parallel. This thing was going at it, maybe 8-11db of gain reduction.

Really pulling at everything and adding some juice to the mixture to push the energy as much as possible. Super aggressive.

Testimonial

God Complex

As soon as we had heard some of Georges work, we know he was the right person to do the EP with.

We were thrilled to have had the chance to record in which a world-class studio with him and found him to be extraordinarily knowledgeable and professional!

Lastly…

This record… was mental. A huge story and a rollercoaster built into one adventure.

 

Heres to the future… and EP 2?

G1.