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The use of click tracks for drum production within the Extreme Metal genre

Mynett, Mark and Wakefield, Jonathan P. (2009) The use of click tracks for drum production within the Extreme Metal genre. In: The Art of Record Production 09, 13th - 15th November 2009, Cardiff.

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This paper explores the use of click-tracks and the benefits they enable for drum production within the extreme metal genre. The paper will focus on the drum production of ‘Sink’, the second album by French act Kaizen that was produced, engineered and mixed by the first author of this paper and released through Sony in 2005.
This paper will reflect the first author’s eight years experience producing within the metal genre including releases through Sony and Universal. He has worked with the likes of Colin Richardson, Andy Sneap and Jens Bogren. Contributions with various producers, as well as professional musicians from the genre will be included in this paper.
For extreme metal acts, accuracy is more important than vibe, feel or groove in the drum performance. The kick drum work and the beats, patterns, subdivisions and syncopation involved demand the very highest standard of precision and accuracy to facilitate the tightest possible production. The use of a click track provides an essential central reference point in forcing a drummer to tighten up his beats and parts and allows the producer to accurately assess this, which enables a precise standard of drum performance.
However, to take advantage of these benefits, the use of a click needs to be a central aspect of pre-production. Here, a producer will often need to be involved, for example in the mapping out of the song’s tempi, and the recording of guide tracks for the drummer to rehearse to. The drummer’s rehearsal time to the clicks and guides are a vital element of pre-production and their importance cannot be overstated.
Additionally, due to the particularly fast kick drum patterns involved (double kick drums/double kick pedals are a prerequisite) and the often rhythmically intricate and complex nature of the drum parts, it is normal for the drum tracks heard on a finished production to not entirely be as performed. Often a variety of kick-pattern building, drum editing and quantisation methods will have been employed to produce very tight drum performances. This is one of the particular production challenges of the genre, and ultimately the use of clicks when recording the drums facilitates these methods and the tools involved.
This paper looks at these issues in the context of the drum production of the album ‘Sink’. On commencing recording of the drum tracks it became obvious that the drummer was unable to perform the vast majority of the double bass drum work for the often-complex parts. Measures were therefore taken to minimise any bleed of the kick drums onto the other microphones, so that the entire performance of the footwork involved could be built with samples. In essence, the tightness, accuracy and consistency of the final drum performance could not have been achieved without the use of a click-track during tracking.
Clearly, the impact of these measures resulted in a complete lack of authenticity of the perceived kick drum performance of this album. In a genre where authenticity and musical virtuosity are often viewed as paramount, the artists were keen that this ‘fake’ element of the production was not made public knowledge in the fear that it would affect album sales, and the band sacked the drummer involved following the completion of the album.
However, under the circumstances, this kick building was the most appropriate solution to getting the album completed on time, within budget and with a strong standard of production.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Presented at The Fifth Annual Art of Record Production Conference, hosted by the Division of Music and Sound ATRiuM, University of Glamorgan, Cardiff, S. Wales on November 13th – 15th 2009.
Uncontrolled Keywords: metal, extreme metal, production, drum production, heavy metal, contemporary metal,
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > MT Musical instruction and study
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Schools: School of Computing and Engineering
School of Computing and Engineering > Pedagogical Research Group
School of Computing and Engineering > Music Technology and Production Research Group
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Mark Mynett
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2010 16:58
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 21:52


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