More Rings of Saturn Drama: ex-Drummer Brent Silletto Shares His Side of the Story
Ex-Rings of Saturn drummer Brent Silletto, who is smack-dab in the middle of the controversy that unfolded yesterday (Part 1, Part 2) in which a man named Brian Shields accused the band of recording their records at half speed, has reached out MetalSucks in an effort to shed some light onto the situation. Did Rings of Saturn record their new album at half speed, or did they not?
Silletto’s letter to us is quite a read, and there are some pretty damning accusations that will be hard for anyone to refute. Here’s the TL;DR version: most of the first album was recorded at half speed (and what wasn’t recorded at half speed was heavily edited), and although Brent wasn’t in the band for the recording of the new album, he has plenty of reasons to belief that that album was recorded at half speed as well.
Here’s Brent’s letter in full, edited for clarity:
When asked if the allegations that the [Rings of Saturn] albums were essentially faked are true, and my full story with my time in Rings of Saturn:
Yes they were. I honestly don’t have anything to lie about here; I have no fans to gain or lose or clients to keep happy, and I don’t plan on pursuing death metal as a career in any capacity. I chose to wait a while before posting what I did for the fact that I knew once I came out and said it the band was going to refute my words tooth and nail and try and discredit me as having some kind of vendetta against them. And I honestly at this point in my life don’t have the time to sit here and try and argue how valid what I’m saying is. If Rings of Saturn actually want to prove they can play their shit clean at speed, they would post a studio-quality play-through of the band playing their material without the aid of a backing track. But instead they choose to go on the defensive and attack everyone else’s credibility. It’s all just BS in the end. Every legit band posts studio quality play-through of songs so you can see and clearly hear them playing it. ROS has never posed a video of such quality and that should be a huge red flag in all of this “he said she said” bullshit.
I’ll give you the full story from the very beginning of me being kicked out of Rings of Saturn. Here it is once and for all. This is me being completely honest about what happened, since at this point I have nothing to gain or lose from any of this, no fans to gain or lose, no clients I want to try and keep, this is my honest word. Take it for what it is; if you choose to think otherwise more power to you. Anyways, it all started back when Lucas and I were seniors in high school. I got a call from a mutual friend to come out and jam with some of his friends, one of which was Lucas [Mann]. Me and Lucas at the time instantly clicked musically. We were able to anticipate what the other was gonna do and we had some really good jams so we choose to start writing an album to get a band together. We wrote close to 7 songs all of which sounded more like As I Lay Dying covers than anything else. We decided the sound was too generic for anyone to take notice. So Lucas started writing what would later become [Rings of Saturns’ first album] Embryonic Anomaly.
We wrote the rhythms for “Seized and Devoured,” “Invasion” and “Abducted” all at Soundwave Studios in Oakland. Lucas wrote the rest of the guitars on his own and programmed them into GuitarPro to a click and gave them to me to write [my parts] to. [Then he] turned around and booked studio time at Lightning Studios in Concord, CA, with the engineer John Leyden who was just running a little ProTools home studio to make a little extra cash recording local bands. He was a friend I had recorded with before so that’s who we went with. I initially tracked drums for “Invasion,” “Abducted” and “Seized and Devoured” there, and Lucas tracked about 80% of the guitars there, DI to be re-amped later. And it was when he was tracking DI that he tracked all the leads on the album at 50% speed along with all the bass at 50% speed. We dident have a bassist at the time, and wanted the guitars to be just as clean at the bass. So, yes, it was at Lightning Studios where we tracked at half speed. The drums I tried to track at full speed and all the drums were technically recorded at full speed, however they were so sloppy that they had to be so severely edited it may as well be programmed. The guitars where no different. The rhythm tracks, meaning the basic guitar riffs, were indeed recorded at full speed, but every single lead and sweep you hear on the album was in fact recorded at half speed and doubled in the studio and then quantized. EVERY NOTE on the album gets chopped and quantized to a click, even after recording at half speed and doubling it. Rings of Saturn would be absolutely nothing if it was not for ProTools and audio engineers allowing them to fake their way to a final product.
Anyways, so what happened at Lightning was I went in and recorded “Abducted” and “Invasion,” then Lucas went in to track guitars before I could finish the rest of the songs because he got impatient and wanted it to be his turn to record. So we recorded 3 drums tracks then Lucas went in to track those 3 songs [on guitar], then decided to track the rest of the album right then and there because it was going so quickly recording at half speed and doubling it. What ended up happening was we completed tracking for “Abducted” and “Invasion,” all guitars, drums, bass and vocals, and about 90% of the guitars and bass were done being tracked, and, of course, edited. All that was left for them was to be re-amped, and for a few more leads here and there to be recorded. It was at this point we ran into many scheduling issues with John Leyden; weeks would go by with no available recording sessions. So I found Mayhemeness Studios in Sacramento with engineer Bob Swanson. It was here where I tracked the rest of my drums, Lucas finished recording his leads — still in half time — and the rest of the bass still in half time.
Then came time for Peter to track his vocals. He didn’t have anything solid for any of the songs really, so Lucas and Peter went through everything together and found where to place all the vocals, and recorded it phrase by phrase. The drums were tracked at full time to a click but were so severely sloppy everything had to be reprogrammed. We finally finished getting everything tracked and then Bob did all the chopping, quantizing and everything you can possibly do to edit everything so it’s perfectly in time. That is how the first album was recorded.
It was at this time we put up “Abducted” and “Invasion” on our MySpace page and people started listening. I was then approached by Anthony Delgado who later formed Rebel Pyro Management. Anthony was writing for Loudside.com at the time and featured us on the site and began talking to me online offering up what insight he had to the industry from the various people he had befriended in his time doing interviews with band members back stage. We forged a friendship and I began going with Anthony to almost every metal show that would come through San Francisco to help him with interviews and pass out demos and talk to band members who knew about the industry. It got to the point where Anthony would get passes to shows and not even do interviews; we would just go hang back stage and network for the band. I was able to meet countless member of well-established touring bands and countless road crew, managers, label reps, etc, all of which were really cool and gave plenty of advice on how to take the band to the next level. Each one had a different piece of knowledge to bring to the table and I listened intently every time and tried to turn around and apply that to the band. As far as the online promotion behind ROS, that was because of Anthony. He was working day and night doing everything he could, going to every blog, talking to every kid he could, telling them to check us out and to show their friends. The more he did the more likes and listens we would get on all our social media sites, which were all made by Anthony. After a few other local bands he talked to noticed how much attention he was getting us, they approached him to start working with their bands, so Anthony chose to legitimize his efforts and make Rebel Pyro Management official. We signed a management contract with Anthony. Anthony at this point had no idea how fake the album was and was just impressed with the technical abilities of kids our age. So we kept growing the name. And eventually it came time to start playing shows.
When we started playing shows we had 3 members, Lucas, Peter and myself. Not enough members to play everything. So we used an iPod as a backing track and played to a click live. The initial idea was to have just the bass, keys and rhythm guitar come out of the iPod and then we’d play live drums, live vocals and live lead guitar. However when I was sent the tracks to put on the iPod, there was also lead guitar in the mix that Luke was going to play the harmony to, but all you could really hear live was the lead from the iPod because Luke would keep his amp down.
We played 5 or 6 shows this way prior to going on tour. Then we found Joel Omans, and dude, I’ll be straight up: Joel can play everything at full speed. He is a very talented guitarist and had no problem pulling off all the leads on Embyonic Anomaly. Luke sent him tabs to all the songs, he learned them in like a week and then took a Greyhound from Washington to California to finish learning everything and get solid playing with me. It was at this point that many of the leads on the album where now being played by Joel because he was far cleaner then Lucas. Lucas would still play some leads but the ones that were not as fast and technical, like some of the leads in “Abducted” or the solo in “Invasion.” Joel essentially filled in for the iPod as his guitar was always higher in the mix then Lucas’s. It was around the time Joel joined the band that our manager Anthony found out about the techniques used to record the album, saw us live and knew we could not actually pull that material off as clean as it is on the album. Relations with him soured because of this and we severed the contract.
At this point he had helped us get our name big enough to get a contract with Unique Leader Records. The attorney we had negotiate the contract was referred to us by Zach Householder of Whitechapel, as it was the attorney that negotiated Whitechapel’s contract with Metal Blade. Zach, a friend of our management, and acquainted with me, was instrumental in helping us with the negotiations with Unique Leader while we were getting signed. And from that we were able to land our spot on the Slaughter Survivor s Tour as we had a lot of buzz going around about us sparked by Rebel Pyro’s online promotion campaigns.
The foundation the band is built on was forged with the aid of Rebel Pyro Management; we would have never known where to begin with promotion and the business end of a band without Anthony. It was only after the relationship soured between Rebel Pyro and the band that the band and I publicly took credit for all the time and work he had put into helping us grow to where we were, and no one to date has given him credit for his work in helping grow that band.
Which is why all of this came up in the first place; I made a post yesterday to give him credit for his work, and also to shed light on the record being essentially fake. As for Dingir [the new album]. which i thought was pronounced “DING-er” the first time I saw it (lol) and I’m sure I’m not alone there. That album was done being written before I was kicked out of the band. In fact I had started writing drums for some of the songs. Lucas had sat on GuitarPro for about two weeks without ever picking up his guitar. He programmed all the guitars for the album and put them to a click for me to write [my parts] to. All this was done right when Joel was joining the band and he needed to learn the material we already had, so his input writing-wise only ends up on a few of the new songs. He had to convince Luke to let him add in his own shit too.
I was in fact kicked out of the band prior to the actual recording of the new album. However, I had conversations with Luke on the Slaughter Survivors tour where he said he wanted to track the majority of the guitars for the new album on his own at half speed — same exact process we did last time without Joel there — because he did not want Joel to know that we recorded at half speed. Luke didn’t think Joel was going to be so down with that. We were set to get a $5,000 advance from Unique Leader to make the album. Luke suspected that if we programmed the drums, recorded at half speed and then tracked the vocals we could make the album for 1-2 grand and pocket the rest. This was all being discussed just between the two of us on tour, because until this point it had been Lucas and me doing EVERYTHING together. We started and built it together with the aid of Rebel Pyro Management and Peter being the crazy awesome front man he is.
I was the financial backbone to the band; I’ve maintained a job working in vet hospitals for 6 years now and poured almost every cent I had into the band for 2 years while the only contributions made by Lucas and Peter was money they could get from their parents. The only reason that band had any merch to sell on the first tour or leading up to it was because I paid for it. The only reason we had CDs pressed to sell was because I paid for it. The only reason why we had a CD recorded was because I had paid 75% of it.
Once we were on tour things soured between Lucas and me. It became clear money was the main focus of the band and not having a good time jamming and getting everyone involved. I made the HORRIBLE decision to bring my girlfriend at the time on tour with us to sell merch and be a helping hand as we had no one else available over the age of 18 to come with us. So she did and it caused a ton of issues and we sent her home early after an ugly dispute in Indianapolis. It was between that and the fact that from day one on the Slaughter Survivors tour every member of pretty much everyother band noticed the ego Lucas carried around about himself.
There was an issue when we were in Canada when the promoter wanted us to switch slots with Volumes, and asked Gus Farias, their vocalist, to come up to Peter, Lucas and myself and see if we were chill with switching time slots for the night. Peter and I looked at each other, shrugged and said whatever. Lucas proceeded to throw a hissy fit and said no and demanded we keep out time slot. He got his way and it caused a very weird vibe on the tour as the guys in Volumes were rather put off by it. That same night Volumes were getting off stage and taking their time because of the scene Lucas caused, and Lucas became impatient with their guitarist at the time, DJ, and kicked his guitar off the side of the stage to make room for his gear. That’s just one example from a month full of them, however, because of the vibe everyone got from Lucas on the tour he began never interacting with any of our other band members and only sat in the van or at the merch table while the rest of us where hanging with all the guys we were on tour with. And the guys on the tour [in the other bands] made it no secret that they thought Lucas had an attitude problem. Eddie, who is the merch guy for Conducting From the Grave — and also helped tour manage, took us under his wing, and showed us the ropes of touring — had to put Lucas in his place and pull him aside and talk to him about his ego multiple times, along with Conducting From the Grave’s vocalist Mikey Powell because he doesn’t put up with bullshit. Peter, Joel and myself were approached by members of other bands on a daily basis asking about Luke’s ego and complaining to us about it. Me being the other real founding member of the band, I kinda took it upon myself to call Lucas out about his ego and tried to put him in his place. In his head we were the best band on the tour and everyone was there to see us, or that was at least the vibe the entire tour package got from him.
Between the issues stemming from my girlfriend being on the tour and me being the one getting on his case and the issues we were having live — which was basically we were not clean and didn’t play the songs up to the full speed of the album — Lucas decided Rings of Saturn no longer needed me as at this point, and that all the merchandise would pay for itself after we sold off what we had in stock. We had a label paying for our next recording and we had landed a booking agent (Pantheon) and signed with Extreme Management, who handles Origin and Decrepit Birth. So I was no longer a real financial asset to the band and I was not very clean live. The other side of the coin was we had a member contract that outlined members leaving, how money is allocated, etc, etc etc. It also stated in the contract that any member will be given a 30-day notice before being kicked out to fix any issues, and after the 30 days, if you have not fixed the issue you’re gone. And no one who leaves the band, whether they get kicked out or quit, gets there investment into the band back. Which is fair enough when you’re trying to run a professional touring band. However I was never given 30 days notice at all. We got back from tour and the next day Lucas shows up at my house for me to get my drums out of the trailer, and after I unloaded them he said to me, “So, we’re going on tour with Fleshgod Apocalpyse and their drummer is really good… so we’re getting a replacement,” and that was basically it. No 30-day notice and not one cent of my investment back even though I probably put about 7 or 8 grand into the band while i was in it. I got the ole Dave Mustaine.
And that’s basically all she wrote. Can I say without a shred of doubt the first album is 100% fake? Yes. As for Dingir, I was not in the band during the time of the recordings. I only have what was said to me personally by Lucas while I was in the band, and the message that was forwarded to me where I guess it’s his girlfriend, but she’s relaying what she heard from him saying the entire album was tracked at half speed. Between how we tracked the first album, the things Lucas said to me regarding recording the next album on tour, the message I got, and by just listening to the new material, it’s pretty clear [the second album] was faked as well, any self-respecting audio engineer can hear it. And if the band truly recorded that album at full speed why cant we get a quality studio play through of them playing a song so we can see and hear how clean they truly are live? Or at the very least a good soundboard mix of them live. Either one of those would be able to put all these rumors to rest. But they have not done this, and why is that? Perhaps they can’t actually get a clean mix of them playing live because they’re not… clean?
So… wat u think?