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Serrated Shadows

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Second entry for NGUAC 2020. I spent a week and a half trying to figure out what to do and less than a week recording and mixing. Let's just say it was both stressful and fun :P

I'm not used to making songs in 2 weeks, normally i'd spend an entire month on a single one. At some point i thought i was not going to make it and i even considered giving up like other contestants. But after i got together with a friend, we somehow managed to pull this off! Who knows if i'll pass to the next round, but this was such a fun experience, and I'm proud with how this song turned out :D

Also the acoustic part was supposed to be longer and featuring a good-for-the-soul solo, but in the end we figured it was too much, as it would take too long to enter the "real" part. In the future I'm planning to divide this song into two interconnected songs.

Anyways, hope you like it :)

Art used: https://www.newgrounds.com/art/view/zigan/troubling-nightmare

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Ah yes, this intro gave me very high hopes! i really enjoy the intro, good little harmonics happening, reminds me of a little bit of hair metal in the beggining, it sounds like you are moving power chords around and the instruments behind the guitars give me a bit of a dream theater vibe, by around 1:00, the chords get a little repetitive, the reverb you have on this track are fine up until the where all the instruments come in, Then you have to much reverb on everything its very hard to hear anything happening. At this point you should automate a lot of your reverb out. The guitar ends up getting over ballanced. I really love the design of the drums but after a certain point i can barely hear them. The melody youve written is pretty darn good but again, after a certain point, the reverb, and compression, just gets more and more reverbed until its just a bunch of noise in the 2k-5k hz ranges. You have just these great voices, and then your guitar is so loud and over reverbed, it just crushes everything. I love what was written here, but the mixing is takes away from the song entirely. Chord progressions do get a bit repetitive at a certain point, but i really love your melody, even though its repetitive, it could sond so good. I feel like your effects might be routed weirdly and you have your reverb BEFORE your compression, in turn compressing all the reverberation. Your solo I feel like is really good too, but again i can barely hear it.

Definitely take a look at your effects chain, and never ever put reverb before compression if you did it, always after, and when there is a lot going on, clarity is key, automate your reverb to go down a lot so all of that beautiful guitar playing can shine through. It was heart breaking to hear just this great solo guitar and melody guitar, overshadowwed and almost cast aside by the mixing. ADR3 said a lot of stuff i did and said it right.

EDIT: also, keep in mind, OVERDRIVES are a form of compression, i feel like you put your reverb before your overdrive, because you used clean guitar in the beginning and it sounded pretty good. Make sure your overdrives or other forms of effects are always BEFORE your reverb, never ever after.

This was a great submission though!

xZiriusX responds:

If only i mixed it right, dang. I'm glad you gave such a detailed and constructive review. ADR3 gave a great one aswell but i guess i was too shocked when i saw it hehe. I just realized i'm going too crazy with the reverb and just not controlling it at all. Maybe it was the pressure of releasing the track in less than a week, or maybe im just a noob still :P. Thank you for taking your time on doing this, people like me really appreciate it :)

I'm not sure I'm sold on parallel motion of the chords and melodies here in your intro, as well as through the 0:52. Obviously takes talent to play rather than program, but I feel like we're moving the same chord around over and over, which with power chords isn't so obvious. You could change this feeling by not using the bass note to just play the tonic of the chord.

The rest of the piece, reverb is waaaaaay too loud. It sounds louder than the actual attacks of notes themselves. I'd sooner listen dry than with that FX on. It's loud enough the track distorts by 2:41 and I can't tell what's too loudly mixed or not because the reverb is just grabbing resonant sustained notes and holding them out. It's like being in a warehouse. Only the strongest points of your mix stand out, and the finer intricacies are obliterated.

I am able to hear that twah-twah attack on the choir and would recommend switching it out. I'd like to hear you reupload this without that reverb. Underneath it is a good sounding track that could probably use your synths turned down a dB or two. If you simply must have this reverb, don't put it over the whole track. Maybe just the hi-hats, the lead, and the snare.

Chernobyl studios does a great series of tutorials on mixing rock. I recommend checking them out.

Anyway, thanks for coming out to NGUAC!

xZiriusX responds:

Edit: I probably sound like a jerk with this response. Just so you know i understand all the points you made, and i'm seriously looking forward to improve. Still keeping my whiny comments for preservation :P

Thanks you for this constructive review! Yeah, you may have noticed i'm far from being an expert when it comes to mixing. I just began doing music this year and all i use is the free included plugins in Reaper. And yeah, i used reverb on everything, mostly because i really hate how dry and robotic modern metal sounds. My main goal with my mixing is make the songs sound old school, human (maybe i should've used compressors but i feel uncomfortable using them). Obviously i still need to learn a lot, i'm far from being perfect, and i still need more experience in handling reverb, aside from better equipment and such.

Maybe you should've focused more on the composition rather than the mixing, as the latter just isn't one of my strongest aspects. Maybe you were expecting a more professional sounding song, which is something i just can't deliver right now. Also, i mixed this in less than a week, of course it's going to sound bad.

Hopefully i'm not sounding like a jerk over your review (Edit: i was). I know you are looking forward for how i improve in the future, and that you wish the best. I want to improve, because i know i'm not perfect, and that there's room for lots of improvement. I was not expecting to pass to the next round of NGUAC anyway, i'm just not on the level of these really good and amazing contestants.

Anyway, thanks for the review :)

got that Iced Earth Feel still. I like that lil clean guitar lick right before the heavy part. that solo at 2:26 is badass, nice flow from the riff. this song jams.

xZiriusX responds:

Glad you liked the song! It's funny you say my songs have Iced Earth feels, i've barely listened to them lol. And again, glad you like my stuff :)

Credits & Info


3.53 / 5.00

Aug 24, 2020
2:17 PM EDT
Heavy Metal
File Info
12.7 MB
5 min 33 sec
  • Synth1
  • Reaper
  • Hybrid 3
  • MPK Mini MKII
Misc. Kit
  • MT Power Drum Kit
  • Virgin Choir

Licensing Terms

You may not use this work for any purposes.