TovH Exclusive – ‘The Producer Series’: Pt.2 – Atmospheric Metal
Want to record that perfect take? Write the riff to crush all genitalia? Get that perfect drum tone? Need album direction ideas? Well today we have something extra special for all you aspiring musicians, the Producer Series. This exclusive to TovH will put you in touch with one of the leading names in metal production today, helping you get the edge over the endless stream of new bands/artists all seeking those sweet yet ever-dwindling record deal dollars. Last time we met, B.S was kind enough to give us the insider knowledge needed to help out those trying to Stay Tech. Here in the second installment we’re going to cover all things Atmospheric.
Once again, due to contractual obligations and other such legal restrictions imposed by those pesky record labels and other suit-wearing corporate scum, we’re not allowed to officially name the producer we’ve been in contact with. So for the purposes of this series, they’ll be referred to by their initials, B.S. I’m sure some of you more knowledgeable in the music industry have already worked out who it is, but for those who haven’t, let’s just say they’re a pretty big deal, having worked across a couple of decades, covered a plethora of sub-genres and collected ideas from all aspects of the music industry. What matters here for us though is that we’ve got exclusive access to their insights and tips on how to get noticed and achieve success through music. This time the stars have aligned, and the ambiance is right; we’re delving into atmospheric black metal. Take the reins, B.S.
1. Incorporate Trees.
Your cover, your band logo, your song titles, your lyrics, the fucking tags on your bandcamp page, the lot. A couple of trees doth not a forest make. If you want the audience to think of woods, you’ll need to go out of your way to instill the notion of plants into every aspect of the record. Have a special edition made where the vinyl is wrapped in Sequoia bark and the linear notes written on leaf litter or other organic detritus. Changing your names/aliases to things like Ash Willowson, Elmer Mapleton, Figgo Oakenmore, Ivy Laurel, Olive Palmer or Cyathea Cooperi would be a great idea to reinforce your arboreal tendencies. Your logo should resemble a pile of fallen branches with the actual lettering being nearly incomprehensible to the uninitiated; this will give your target audience something to stare at blankly while they listen to your deliberately excruciating song structures, undoubtedly stoned off their gourds.
2. Put Some Wind In The Willows.
This should be a given, but atmospheric metal needs atmosphere. There’s a joke we like to use in the industry – What’s an atmospheric black metal album without wind? A fucking black metal album. It’s that simple. You wouldn’t believe how many artists have released albums over the years attempting to create an atmospheric black metal album without adding that one vital ingredient – wind. Obviously, the first track will be 5 minutes of wind sounds. This is a bare minimum these days. All the truly great artists are not only looking to bring it up to a big 8 minute crescendo for the intro track, but also bookending the album with a similar length outro of gusty sound effects. The way the trend is going, I would strongly advise that you consider applying a thunder-clap followed by some heavy rainfall and really hammer home the stormy vibes. If you’ve done this correctly, the rain drops should be falling in time with the listener’s tears after the ethereal journey you’ve just taken them on.
3. Folklore, It’s The Law.
Many bands seem inclined to leave the lyric writing until last. This is ok, but one thing you can’t come into the studio without is some archaic pagan folklore concept. I don’t give a shit what you choose, why you chose it or what it means, just come prepared. Google image search “Celtic pagan symbols” and do a blind-pick for all I care. Without some antiquated folklore attached to your music, your album may as well not exist. Clever bands may keep things ambiguous on this front. This is so they don’t get caught out on their mythological knowledge by their new-age Wiccan groupie “Skye-Nevaeh” for not knowing the intricacies of the medieval Raven-Moon ritual. But it is important to note that they still have the chance to obfuscate and further delude the devout fan by claiming they are “open to all possibilities”, but only because they brought the folklore to begin with.
4. Strength Through Repetition.
If you want your album to reach the required 70+ minute allotment with the amount of riffs you’ve written, you’re going to have to repeat them. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over. It’s not really fair to expect your listeners to reach a transcendental meditative state if you go chopping and changing things every 6 minutes or so. Ever watched a porno where the guy is finished before you? I didn’t think so. The same methodology should be applied to riff repetition; just keep pounding away until you’re done, never mind about whether the listener is finished. They’re here to listen to you, so don’t fall into the trap of listening to them.
5. Dismiss Other Genres.
There are nice ways to do this without offending those potential fans who just aren’t enlightened yet. Try to use some of your excess empathy to think back to those dark times before you saw the light and embraced all the possibilities of the universe. Let your powerful spirit guide you toward what is right, and that is you. You are right. They just need to open their mind, maybe you could help them by forming a bridge of sorts between the plastic tangible world and the spirit realm. Write lyrics which merely allude to your beliefs; keep them deliberately vague, because their ambiguity will increase their potency. Use your superior connection to the Earth and knowledge of astrology to guide them away from other materialistic styles and toward the supernal bliss which can be attained only through your music.
Previously in the Producer Series: