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FAQ for Dead Enemies by Darkride
Hello guys,

i thought it would be a good idea to write a short FAQ about this song to help you with some of the problems you will encounter. I've also done this for "Burning Bridges" (which you can find right here so let's start right away.

Before you start mixing there is one thing you MUST do first: Download the mixed version of Dead Enemies and use it as a guideline and reference to understand the structure of the song. I´ll explain the reason for this later. just right click on the following link and use the "save links as"-option:

Who are you?
I´m one of the guitar players of this band and responsible for mixing/recording.

How did you record this song?
Dead Enemies has completely been written and recorded over the internet. We use dropbox to store & sync all files so every band member always has the same version of the song on his harddisk. We are all using Cubase 7 but made the switch to Version 8 recently. We recorded the guitars clean and reamped them with my Kemper Amp. The profile we use is a "copy" of the guitar sound of "My Curse" from Killswitch Engage. For Drums we use Superior Drummer because it's too expensive to get a good drum sound without a proper room and good mics. All samples are taken from the new Metal Machine SDX for Superior Drummer. The bass is an active 5-string Fender Jazz Bass played straight into the audio interface. Our singer has his own studio so I don't know what kind of mics and gear he has =)
Fun fact: The drums are played by studio drummer Kevin Talley (Dying Fetus, Daath, Battlecross, Suffocation and more) and have been converted to midi because we changed a lot of parts AFTER we recorded the drums so we couldn't use those tracks anymore. Kevin's original drum style and his feeling is still all over the place.

Are there any reference mixes you recommend?
Yes - all songs on "As daylight dies" & "End of Heartache" from Killswitch Engage.

Here is another mixed & mastered song from Darkride for reference:

What's so special about this song?
Load all the tracks into a new project in your daw and pull up all faders. Take your time and listen to the tracks but don't start mixing right away. You'll probably notice a lot of small parts and pieces that sound awkward. The whole song will sound like an unfinished project. The reason for this is that this song has been modified and changed over and over again. One of the early versions of this song was over 10 minutes and had over 20 parts. Somehow we lost the original groove and feel of this song once we started to cut parts away. In the end I "wrote" a completely new version of Dead Enemies once the final mixing process started, moving and dropping parts (like the 1st and 2nd chorus), adding new parts and bridges and changing the structure completely. Some of those "parts & bridges" can't be used without drastically changing their sound (more to that in a minute). In the end, you really have to use your DAW as an instrument to create a natural flow between the different parts of Dead Enemies and add impact and emotion.

Tip: It's a good idea to load the ref mix into your project - not for the sound, but for the structure of the song. If you listen to the tracks of Dead Enemies without any mixing you won't hear a song - you just hear a bunch of different parts. There is no flow, the song doesn't have a simple ABABCAB structure. You need all your mixing skills (and i don't mean eq and compression) to glue all parts together and essentially make a song out of all those parts. This is the main challenge.

Any other tips for us?
Because the vocals are already compressed and eq'ed you should try to mix "around" them without further changing their sound.


1. Reamping the DI guitar tracks
There are two clean guitar tracks in the first verse and several clean guitar tracks at the end that need to be reamped. You can use any virtual amp in your toolbox for this task.

Tip 1: don't choose a preset with a lot of presence (like a boogie rectifier simulation) for the solos and don't use a lot of distortion either. The solo tracks will benefit from a mid-heavy amp sim. There are no vocals in the last part other than the "Dead Enemies"-whispers so there is enough "space" to place the solo right in the centre of the mix with a sweet and mid-heavy sound. Just take a listen to the example (listen to attachment Dead_enemies_Solo)

Tip 2: The two DI guitar tracks in the verse can be used to add detail to the end of the first verse. Unlike the solo tracks these two tracks benefit from a boogie-style amp sim with enough presence to let them cut through the mix (you probably don't need to eq them if you choose a rectifier-sim). Tip 1: Start with a highpass filter at 150 Hz to remove the low end. There is already enough movement below 200 Hz thanks to the kick, bass and rhythm guitars. Mix them slightly below the wall of fx and rhythm guitars and don't put them in a spotlight but in the end, it's up to you if you go the creative route and give them more space in the mix (listen to attachment Dead_enemies_DI_guitars)

2. The snare sample is not always your friend
The snare sample track is a two-edged-sword: It will help the snare to cut through the mix - but it will totally destroy the groove in the blast beat. You have to turn the sample track down by 10-15 dB in the blastbeat or use your own sample but you definitely can't use the sample track with the same volume throughout the song. It will sound like the drummer can't play blastbeats which is clearly not the case. listen to "Dead_enemies_blastbeat" to hear how this part should sound. that should help you to find the right balance for the volume of the sample.

3. "Dead Enemies"-whisper at the end of the 1st verse
This is something that most of you will "fuck up" Smile You need to drastically change the "Dead Enemies"-whisper at 1:39 because it hasn't been a regular part of the recording. I added it in the mixing process because I needed something to fill the gap between the 1st and 2nd verse. It WILL sound awful and destroy the flow of the song if you use it as a regular vocal part. Just get creative here and use chorus, reverb, delay, pitch shifting or whatever it takes to transform this part into something creepy.

What do you mean you "added" it?
When I started mixing Dead Enemies there was a small pause after verse 1 that led into the first chorus but the chorus was very boring so I decided to throw it away. With the chorus gone, I needed some sort of transition from verse 1 to verse 2 to keep the flow. So I took the "Dead Enemies"-phrase from the last part of the song and turned it into some sort of creepy background whisper - and it worked. check the example Dead_enemies_whisper and you will hear what I´m talking about.

So that's why you can't use this vocal part without changing it into some sort of fx - it wasn't there in the first place and it's only there to make the pause between verse 1 and 2 more interesting.

Final words:
I will try to listen to every mix and give my 2 cents about it but you should always be aware of the fact that I´m not a pro mixer. What you´ll get instead is pure & honest "costumer" feedback. I do have a clear vision of how this song should sound in my head and therefore I will probably not be very happy with every mixing decision you make unless you can magically make this song sound like a song from "As daylight dies" or "End of Heartache" from Killswitch Engage. That doesn't mean all your mixing decisions are wrong and everything I say is right but it will give you the sort of feedback you will get when you work for others. So please forgive me when I write something harsh because I really, really, really appreciate all the work you will put in your mix of Dead Enemies.

Thank you in advance ... and if you have any further questions, feel free to ask me.
Cheers, Dirk

.mp3    DeadEnemies_Full_Preview.mp3 --  (Download: 7.87 MB)

.mp3    Dead_enemies_DI_guitars.mp3 --  (Download: 1.47 MB)

.mp3    Dead_enemies_Solo.mp3 --  (Download: 684.84 KB)

.mp3    Dead_enemies_whisper.mp3 --  (Download: 434.53 KB)

.mp3    Dead_enemies_blastbeat.mp3 --  (Download: 856.41 KB)

Thanks for all this, Blitzzz! Really useful stuff. I've stickied the thread again, so people will hopefully spot it...
Cool song Smile This project sounds like an interesting challenge... I'll have to have a go at it. Thanks for sharing.
I'm grateful for comments and suggestions. Thank you for listening!
Thanks for the info and links. Will give it a shot as this is my first mix (apart from some mixes of my songs). btw what do you mean by "already mixed vocals"? was it already compressed ect?
(18-03-2015, 06:43 PM)greenhandstudios Wrote: Thanks for the info and links. Will give it a shot as this is my first mix (apart from some mixes of my songs). btw what do you mean by "already mixed vocals"? was it already compressed ect?

yep, a lot of etc. to be honest =)
Nice song but difficult to mix as I am new in this. It would be nice to hear your comment on it anyway.
Thanks /Peter
Thanks for taking the time on an awesome FAQ Dirk! This song is next on my list.
hi Blitzzz! I just posted my first mix of "Dead Enemies". I find this piece absolutely great. Frankly it was very complicated to mix. The great difficulty is to remain coherent and to convey the spirit of the piece well. I have just read your very interesting explanations and I found there why certain things were difficult to do. Your comments on my mix would be highly appreciated. We always have to learn. So thanks.
Hi, Blitzzz. I read the FAQ after I did a mix. I took the suggestions of the blast beat part and dumped the sample 10db and the vocal part at 1:39 I already had pretty buried in the mix, but changed it up with a 4 voice chorus with a bit of delay. Both versions will be up in my post. Thanks again for making these awesome tracks available for everyone to mix!