When Pestilent Age fans first listen to our next single “Chemicals of Annihilation” it will be pretty obvious that the mixes between our first two singles are completely different. This is 100% intentional and the main reason Pestilent Age has decided to release a string of singles before releasing our next full length album. 2017 has been a year of experimentation for us. Every song has had an entirely different writing, recording, and mixing process in hopes that we figure out what it takes to bring out the best musician in all of us.
Both “Nuclear Winter” and “Chemicals of Annihilation” were written around a basic premise, create something simple that grooves. How we did that changed slightly between songs. “Nuclear Winter” was spawned from the Harmonic Minor chords Roach had been working on. Once all the chords for the key of E Harmonic Minor were learned he wanted to utilize them within a track. Immediately it became apparent that the chord voicings sounded atmospheric. Black metal instantly came to mind and it was clear the rest of the song would quickly take a turn towards that direction.
Writing “Chemicals of Annihilation” was a bit more straightforward. This song features more of what you’d expect from Pestilent Age. Chugging guitars, sweep picking, and guttural lows are all highlighted in “Chemicals of Annihilation”. Inverted power chords are not just featured on guitar but on bass as well. In fact most of the magic from this song comes from the bass. While the genius of many songs throughout history have been in their simplicity, a song sometimes needs that one element to break the mold of ordinary structure, the bass did that for us. Every time the chorus of “Chemicals” comes around the bass, while still following the basic melodic structure of the song does something different. The first time around its inverted power chords, the second time it’s a leads, and the 3rd time it just regular root and fifth power chords. These changes don’t jump out at the listener, but they offer a slight change in dynamics that can really layer riffs and keeps things interesting.
Recording both singles was a fairly similar process. Pestilent Age’s goal was to record both songs in bigger sections. With modern recording techniques, recording a riff once or even small chunks of a riff, then pasting them over and over again have become common. While other upcoming singles may employ these techniques we decided to be a bit more traditional this time around. Entire 20 second riffs were tracked straight through with single takes giving things a bit more of the live sound. Small inconsistencies pop up when recording this way and can give the music more of a human feel. Tracking this way does come with its challenges. Tuning, consistency, and accenting can all become much harder to nail down. Although the band practices these 3 core areas religiously, recording is like putting a microscope under your work. When performing live a lot of small problems can’t be heard, a HiFi recording can be very different.
Stark Contrast separated the mixing processes between “Chemicals of Annihilation” and “Nuclear Winter”. While writing “Nuclear Winter” it became clear that a black metal theme would be appropriate. When it was time for the mix Kyle and Pestilent Age decided it would be fitting to go in a direction that was lighter on the low end. The bass guitar would have a very gritty mid –range focus, the guitar tone would need a fizzy top end, and the drums would be left as natural as possible. The vocals in “Nuclear Winter” contained a lot more highs than in previous recordings.
“Chemicals of Annihilation” has an old school death metal vibe that we wanted to capture in the mixing process. More low end, guttural vocals, and loud guitars had to be highlighted. The bass guitar was more present than in “Nuclear Winter”. Thanks to the B7K pedal from dark glass electronics we can distort the fuck out of the bass without losing clarity or the low end womping out on us. The grind that pedal gave us really opened the door to limitless guitar tone. Steve’s drums were almost 100% natural. We used samples on the kick and a small sample blend on snare but all in all Steve played like a beast for this session. Rim shots on the snare really helped eliminate hi-hat bleed and freed up our creativity. Roach's guitar tone was a big change for us as well. Normally it’s had a high end fizzle that gives it the presence to stand out in a dense metal mix, however this time around we went with a more low end focused tone. The Fractal Audio Ax8 was great for that. Any amp block labeled FAS has an extremely tight low end response that kept our mix from becoming muddy. All of the vocal tracks on “Chemicals of Annihilation” were pushed louder than in the past as well. Taking the extra time tracking vocals made meshing them in with everything else a breeze.
All in all these two songs were exciting to record. Pestilent Age has learned so much from doing this and already have other singles started. We wanted these tracks to sound raw and hopefully our fans can hear that. For our next couple of singles we’ll be pushing clear across the spectrum to produce music that has a more polished sound. Accompanied by new knowledge Pestilent Age is absolutely dedicated to making sure each release sounds not only different from the last, but better than the last.