What Do You Use to Clean Your Ears?
by Eric Guenther
When you’re recording metal, quad tracking ultra compressed guitars, fixing 32nd note snare flams in a blast beat, or listening to some clown scream into a mic about that dude that stole his lunch money in 4th grade, your ears can get fatigued. Your ears take a beating, in a sense, even at low volumes because the dynamic is so harsh and maxed-out. Often described as BRICK WALL’ed, the music doesn’t have the same dynamics you would normally hear in other genres of music. This is also why bands like Opeth (and a million other examples) enjoy using that to their advantage by doing all the clean parts with acoustic guitars; it’s a shock to the ears after all that noise and helps keep the listener involved. I’ve fallen asleep to death metal records before because, after a while, it all just blends together into this uniform drone.
This is why, when I’m recording, I like to take a break every hour or two and flush out my ears. After leaving the room, taking a smoke break, and listening to something with totally fresh dynamic language (see what I did there?), I come back to the desk with a new outlook in mind and “new shit comes to light,” as some dude might say. After all, metal wouldn’t have gotten to the point it is today without being understood as SOME sort of reaction to the softer and less aggressive music out there.
So listen to some of this junk; when you get back to your Windows laptop, the Superior Drummer kits you downloaded from a torrent site, the Axe FX II patches you downloaded from some buddy of yours who claims he “got these from Misha,” and those heavy as fuck riffs that Thordendal WISHES he could tab out on Guitar Pro are gonna rip your nuts off that much sweeter.
In all seriousness, one reason I like to pinpoint good songs for this is because they often share many elements that are used to describe “metal,” like heaviness or something, but manifested in a different way. THIS to me is one of the heaviest things I have ever heard, but it is done with different sonic “language” (…meh).
What are some weird things you guys put on to reset your thinking?