Production Diary – Minenwerfer

This post will mainly accomplish 2 things: plugging Minenwerfer’s new record, and plugging how I can polish off your lo-fi laptop mess before you spend an entire day trying to burn 40 copies of your homebrew record.
Minenwerfer is the black metal solo project of local musician Bret Tardiff, known in black metal circles as Bestial Warhammer, and previously played with me in the doom metal act Lycus. The entire project is themed around World War I history, which is a topic that lends well to chainsaw grinding guitars, guttural screaming, and abrasive walls of harsh mid-range fuzz trying to musically capture the sound of machine gun fire. Tardiff plays everything but the guitar solos, local guitar player Oberstleutnant Angeltits who’s real name I honestly don’t know handles that, and they performed a number of shows around the area with Trevor from Lycus on drums. Currently the band is looking to replace him.
Bret told me he had everything but the vocals already recorded in Audacity, which for those of you unfamiliar with it, is an open source wave editing/audio recording application which runs on just about any operating system. It’s extremely popular among the noise crowd, but I hadn’t seen somebody try to record a musical record with it before. It serves the purpose of amateur audio mastering, but not much in the way of multi-track functionality. I offered to record his vocals on my gear and load his tracks into my DAW to clean up a bit.
Everything had been recorded direct with a distortion pedal, the programmed drum tracks were already mixed down stereo, and the guitar solos came from the line out of a Line 6 head which was not only peaking the entire time, but the digital reverb was added to the tracks wet and I couldn’t get it off. This created a layer of noise over all the guitar solos that wouldn’t budge. Basically what I had in my hands was a challenge to my ego; if I could make this sound like a professionally made black metal album, I’d be pretty happy with myself. Naturally, black metal should never be too clean as it ceases to be kvlt at some point, major scene politics at work. To be perfectly honest, I scoff at how squeaky clean a Dimmu Borgir record sounds as much as the next guy, so I’m not even going to argue things here. I got to take my first foray into the infamous “Loudness War” with this record, cranking everything to excess, going limiter crazy, and letting a number of generally painful frequencies stay in (they didn’t seem to want to come out anyway). When tracking vocals, I decided to abuse my tube preamp by cranking the gain and turning the volume down. This compressed the hell out of Bret’s vocals and at points even created some natural overdrive, which gave his screams an in your face presence without the widely hated cheat of flat out using a distortion pedal on vocals.
It’s about as clean as it’s getting. I offered to produce the next album from the ground up. If you have some Audacity sessions laying around that you’d like remixed/mastered, visit my “Professional Audio Services” page for information on contracting me.
Below is “Teufel Mit Uns” from the forthcoming Minenwerfer record Volkslieder. This is so hot off the press that the artist didn’t even receive his master copy yet.

Minenwerfer @ MySpace

Also, in case you didn’t know, you can make a windscreen out of a paper plate, a nylon stocking, and a coat hanger if you space out and forget yours.