=== This is an NGADM Round 3 Review ===
I find it funny that everyone is all like, "bruh, you made such a big improvement over your last track!" "THIS IS AMAZING! HOW DID YOU GET SO MUCH BETTER?!?" Just between you and me, I always knew you were this good. I mean, I had to ding you a little for uploading a WIP last time, but in my mind if that WIP was stretched out to full length, it would have done just as good as this song.
Which isn't to say that you *haven't* been improving, since you definitely have, just not to a degree everyone else is saying. They're saying you went from good to great. I'm saying you went from great to slightly greater. ;-)
I honestly think that your biggest path to getting better has almost nothing to do with music and everything to do with sitting down and committing to busting out full tracks. To actually make a track with climaxes, breakdowns, you know, the stuff that keeps music varied past the first minute.
The good thing is that's exactly what you did here and you nailed it!
I am actually constantly a little worried about scoring your piece. I might have mentioned this elsewhere, but your type of music is really really similar to the style of music that I enjoy. This kind of thing makes me worried that I might be scoring your track too high, but then maybe that worry is making me overcompensate and score too low??? In either case, I have to commend you on all the awesome work you put out here, since it's right down my friggin alley and I LOVE IT.
Your melody work is awesome in a way that I personally really enjoy. It's got a slight bit of groove to it, a little bit of repetition, and a lot of small catchy riffs. So good.
Your attention to detail is great. You've got a ton of really unique sounds. I mean, right at the start of the track, there's this weird high pitched vocal noise. What the heck even is that? I have no idea how that could fit in a song, but I dunno, somehow you make it work. MAGIC.
The concept of using what sounds like a soda can popping open as a sound effect cracks me up. It fits so well!
I'm not sure if I mentioned this in my last review, but a good deal of my score is an educated guess at how good of a musician you are (rather than just how good the song is). I mean, this is a deathmatch, and I want to pick the best musician (who can continue to write great songs) rather than a one trick pony, ya know?
Good musicians have a bunch of characteristics that average musicians don't have. One of the most important ones is that they know exactly which aspects of their songs work and which aren't, and they're sure to showcase the best stuff right up front, and get rid of all the crap that isn't working. This is why your music poses a bit of a conundrum to me. It always seems to me when I'm listening to your music that the parts that you highlight are highlighted completely by accident, rather than with the intentionality that a good musician would have. And yet you consistently "accidentally" highlight the best parts of your track, so it can't be an accident, can it? Or are you just the most lucky musician in the world?
I mean, listen to the melodic solos going on at :30 onwards to :48. These solos are awesome. I love them. (I think it might have something to do with how you solo in a really similar style to me. I'mnotbiased), and there's pretty much nothing else with a lot of interest going on in the song, so they just naturally receive focus. So it seems like you highlighted them intentionally, right? ...But I'm actually not so sure. I mean, you doused them really heavily in reverb, as if you wanted to hide them. And you didn't actually make the lead instrument loud enough to unambiguously take center stage, so the first time I listened to the track I didn't even realize that they should be the focal instrument.
It's this kind of ambiguity in your tracks that really nags at me. If you think it's good, put it front and center! And if you don't, just get rid of it. (But don't, since I think it's good.)
Another thing I really dig is the little 4 note riff at :35-36, :47-48 and other places. It's alright by itself, but the repetition adds a lot. You have such a talent for coming up with these tiny simple riffs that add a whole bunch of character to the piece - this was something I appreciated in your previous track as well. You kind of bury it back a little in the mix, which makes me, again, really wish that you highlighted it more! You have good ideas, don't hide them! :)
Moving on though. I was really pleased that you did a song with a more interesting arrangement than your last track. Particularly, I love the breakdown at 1:12. Alright, the fact that you clearly just pitched a single syllable up and down for all your notes rather than choosing multiple different syllables to pitch takes away a little from the professional quality, but I don't really even care all that much. I just love this sort of pitch bent quality in vocals. The pitching strikes the balance between real and artificial in a really nice way.
On the other hand, I feel like the climax-esque section that comes after that breakdown stays a little too high energy for a little too long. It doesn't really vary it up at all, and aside from a few simple synth arps, there's nothing all too fascinating going on here. This is actually probably the biggest issue I had with the track - a strong lack of variation in the 2nd half. I feel like the song does not really go anywhere after the 2:30 mark. I mean, just imagine how much more compelling that section would have been with a synth solo similar to the idea you had around :30 coming in after a couple of bars of climax.
(And now, listening to the song for the umpteenth time in a row, I come to find that you do in fact have a solo buried in that second half! I'm leaving the above here anyways, because I think that for the solo to be really effective, it'd need to have more of a focus on it from the rest of the mix.)
All in all, great song. Keep at it!