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Mixing

Round two. The first album Sanzu have worked on. The deadline set was tight, I think we ended up completing the whole album cycle within a month. mixed over two weeks and finalised in 1.

I don’t think a lot of bands would want to work this way but keeping in touch constantly via Facebook made it very easy to complete.

Mixing wise, I wanted to expand on what we started with from Painless. We talked a lot about re-creating the sense of being in the room with them. That initial sense of impact and the over baring velocity of the pace but without drowning the listener in noise.

With guitars I knew I wanted to do a blended tone this time rather than relying on one amp to do all the work. I had recently worked with a band in Wales where they constantly layered and swapped out distortion pedals and the sound was something I’d never achieved before. So right from the start I set up two rigs and kept playing around until each tone slotted into the other to complete this sense of unity. The result is absolutely grinding. I love it so much.

The bass is purely there to have this midrange grunt that guitars can’t provide, along with extending the sense of how far the guitars frequency range reaches. There are a few moments where the bass deviates from what the guitars are playing and I wanted to ensure we could hear and feel it without compromise.

Drums, these buggers were fun. Ben (the drummer) and I had a few late night sessions where we talked at length about tuning, mics and what space to elect for tracking. We ended up using two different rooms because the first got flooded half way through tracking. However because we took samples of the kit from each room, I brought in room hits from both spaces so the kit sounded consistent song to song. A big player in the feel of the drum sound for this album is the parallel processing going on, two sets of parallel compression going with the drums. One for the whole kit and one for just the shells. Those gave me great flexibility when it came to automating. Something I’m going to bring into the workflow from now on for sure.

Vocals, well well well. Zach does his thing and then I slam them and he helps me decide where in the mix to place them and how we swing them in and out of the layers so that they don’t get in the way of the focus for each song. Lots of tube saturation going on here and a healthy amount of layering too when needed.

Mastering

Mastering was different this time also from the Painless EP.

Ive been working a lot on understanding what small differences can be achieved from swapping something as small as an EQ or limiter from song to song.

The result are tracks that have their own unique character without being distracting. I wasn’t interested in slamming the songs in such a way that made all the hard work pointless. I also wasn’t interested in having a classically dynamic master either. Metal benefits from that feeling of impact and wall of sound. Its a dense genre that needs care.

These masters pulse and move with the music. This is the first record in a while where I went back to Slate FG-X for the final stage. Now knowing what I’m listening for I feel like its easier to put into place. It made a BIG difference to approach for sure.

Conclusion

Sanzu deserve to be heard thats for sure, and I’m more than happy for them with the result of this record. Super proud of the guys and what we achieved with this record.

Cant wait for the next round to see where the sound evolves from here.

-G

Hoth

Gear Used

Guitars;
Main Tone – TS9 > 5150 > Mesa v30 > sm57
Secondary Tone (blended with first) – HM2 > 6505 > Mesa

Bass;
DI > Distressor > Fabfilter Saturn

Vocals;
SM7b > Distressor

Drums – Tracked elsewhere.

What Sanzu Say;

George Lever’s contribution to our debut release went far beyond just mixing and mastering.George went out of his way to be involved in every step of the process.

Offering critical consultation prior to tracking as well development of personal relationships with the members of SANZU to ensure each of us were truly happy with the end product. His pro-active approach to maintaining constant and transparent communication on the fly made our experience with G1 Productions fluent and stress-free.

It is evident in George’s passion for his craft that he really does care about your band and your sound. An absolute pleasure to work with and a trusted member of the SANZU family.