Are you ready to talk about what I consider my best metal guitar tone to date? Well, ‘best’ is of course relative. But no one can argue that guitar tone is the heart of the music we love!
As you know, or at least you should know, I released my third studio album a couple of months ago (August 2017). Heavy Metal Workout II is an instrumental melodic death metal style album, and hence the name, it’s the second in my Heavy Metal Workout album series.
In this post, I’m going to share the details of my metal guitar tone for Heavy Metal Workout II. I’ll also take you a bit behind the scenes of why I decided to go with this specific metal guitar tone and the recording process of using, once again, Positive Grid’s BIAS FX plugin.
BIAS FX Metal Tone: Insane Satan Amp
I had decided early on that I would use Positive Grid’s BIAS FX again. The tones are great, in my opinion, and for someone like me with a small home studio, it does the trick.
OK, so I’m to a big fan of using anything named ‘Satan’ but I decided to put any superstition aside and just go with what I thought would fit the best. Of course I first tried using the same amp sound I used with the first Heavy Metal Workout album, the Treadplate (based on the Mesa Dual). But I wanted something darker sounding.
The funny thing is I had made a YouTube video with the BIAS FX Insane Satan amp a couple of years ago, just doing some tone testing. I, among everyone that heard this, was quite amazed by the clarity and depth of this tone. It has that dark, heavy tone that I was looking for. So I ended up using the BIAS FX Insane Satan, which I believe is based on the Randall Satan amp.
HMW II BIAS FX Insane Satan amp settings:
There are the gain, EQ, and volume settings for the guitar track that I hard pan left. For rhythm guitar, I record two tracks and hard-pan each track (this gives you a fun, tight sound). For Heavy Metal Workout II, I used the same amp for the track I panned right, I made a slight boost to the mids, table and presence.
I did this for two reasons: 1) I don’t want the exact same tone for both tracks. That sight variance adds so much to the mix and 2) I used a different cabinet for the guitar, so I tweaked the settings specifically for that cabinet to what I thought sounded best. And we’re about to go over both cabinets I used below.
HMW II BIAS FX Cabinet 1: 4×12 ENG:
For this track, I used the 4×12 ENG cabinet. This is modeled after the ENGL cabinet, which I’m a huge fan of anything that’s ENGL. Since I wanted a darker tone for the album, the 4×12 ENG cabinet was perfect. I decided to go with the SM57 mic for this and positioned it a little tot he left of the cone. I don’t care for amps, whether real or virtual, to be miked at the center of the cone. It’s too bright and teeny sounding. The way I have the mic set up for is perfect for a dark, heavy tone using the Insane Satan and 4×12 ENG.
HMW II BIAS FX Cabinet 2: 4×12 Thrasher
For my second rhythm guitar track, I paired the Insane Satan amp with the 4×12 Thrasher cabinet. Let me just say this cabinet is a super beast. It’s dark, heavy, and has this growl to it. Yet it’s one of the most clear sounding cabinets from the BIAS FX suite. I also used the SM57 mic for the 4×12 Thrasher. I positioned the mic a little closer to the cone than with the 4×12 ENG, as you can see. I did this to help balance the bottom end.
Melodic Death Metal Guitar Tone
Sub genres of metal music often overlap one another. But the best way I can describe Heavy Metal Workout II is instrumental melodic death metal. What I believe gives it that death metal feel is there’s a lot of fast alternate picking with the right-hand for the rhythms. Some may also throw this in with the thrash metal sub genre.
That being said, this album is heavier and faster than the first Heavy Metal Workout. So I needed a tone that would accentuate that feel. As I mentioned, I wanted a darker tone as well.
My reasoning for a different, and darker metal guitar tone, was based around the types of riffs I had written for this album. I had toyed around with idea of down-tuning my guitar. But for some reason I just don’t like that idea. I would rather play a seven string guitar than down-tune a six string. And I wasn’t up to spending a grand or more to get a new guitar. So I had to make the album sound as heavy as possible with the amp, which the BIAS FX Satan did a tremendous job.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with the guitar tones using the BIAS FX Insane Satan amp. It’s super heavy and it fits the songs so well. Let me know what you think about the tone!
Keep it Metal,