Cymbals In Modern Rock Mixes

bleen

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Elvis Baskette produced/engineered/mixed the Alter Bridge; his most recent work with Sevendust has similarly relegated the cymbals/overheads to the far, Far, FAR backseat of the mix. His work with Chevelle in the previous decade didn't have this issue, so I can only hypothesize that it's an intentional aesthetic decision, but not one I enjoy, either. I'm producing two "hard rock/modern rock/metal/insert-favorite-useless-genre-name-here" bands right now and they'd have my head if I delivered mixes with the cymbals that non-existent.
 

Tornado

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Elvis Baskette produced/engineered/mixed the Alter Bridge; his most recent work with Sevendust has similarly relegated the cymbals/overheads to the far, Far, FAR backseat of the mix. His work with Chevelle in the previous decade didn't have this issue, so I can only hypothesize that it's an intentional aesthetic decision, but not one I enjoy, either. I'm producing two "hard rock/modern rock/metal/insert-favorite-useless-genre-name-here" bands right now and they'd have my head if I delivered mixes with the cymbals that non-existent.
Wow, I just took a listen side by side, and it sounds like he even used the exact same samples on that Sevendust record he used on the Alter Bridge record. But honestly, I think I've been hearing those same samples everywhere these days. It's like every band in that genre is putting out the exact same album.
 

tillerva

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Two guys in my band are real into Sevendust, Everytime I die, and some of those and I realized I cannot get past those recordings. I can hear cool stuff going on in there but man. Just can't do it.
I realized this on our way to see POWER TRIP! IF YOU LIKE METAL YOU HAVE TO CHECK THEM OUT. High on fire also played.
 

DrummerJustLikeDad

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I think the lack of cymbals make a dull album duller.
This is a great quote. If I think of my favorite albums from prog to jazz, much of the crackle and magic of those beautiful sounds comes from the cymbal work.

I won’t disparage anyone’s favorite music, but when it comes to modern sounds, maybe Bun’s quote begins to put definition as to where and why my personal interest has faltered.

(And I’m a huge fan of PG III.)
 

Pounder

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Huge variety of great music out there. I gotta say though that when I think of the good music past and present very few of it is the cymbal crashes that I recall in the mix.
Nowadays everything in the mix is fair game for removal; as stated earlier the compression means everything is heard and must be a deliberate choice. However I understand how it could be annoying as a listener/drummer for your once favorite band—particularly from a genre known for up front drums/cymbals—to sheeet all over their “proven formula in an attempt to hang with the modern trends.
 

BennyK

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I'm comfortably unaware of what may or may not be happening to cymbals in the top 40 universe , but Neil Young has written a pretty convincing summary of where the manufacture of sound product is at.

 
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Tomb

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Michael Tretow said when asked about recording the drums he would go in to the studio early and hide the cymbals because he hated them and thought they just got in the way :lol:
But in the end of course they were there, and I like how he had them in the mix on the Abba recordings.
 

bigbonzo

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I'm comfortably unaware of what may or may not be happening to cymbals in the top 40 universe , but Neil Young has written a pretty convincing summary of where the manufacture of sound product is at.

Looks like a good read. I'm getting a copy from my local library.
 

lcondo123

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I've noticed this trend, too. I think a lot of modern rock bands are following the trend that Josh Homme's Queens of the Stone Age started, which is recording the drums and cymbals separately from each other. I personally think it sounds cool as hell if it's done right. I'm listening to the new Alter Bridge album as I write this (specifically, the song Wouldn't You Rather), and this isn't what I'm talking about. Personally I think the mixing and mastering job on this album sounds like crap after just one listen. That album is taking a serious beating with compression - those guitars hardly sound like guitars anymore, and the cymbals are sure as hell suffering from that process, too. That can be a big factor in the cymbals being quieter and sounding less like cymbals in comparison to the loud bass drum and snare drum.

Now, doing it the right way can result in some really sweet drum mixes that just wouldn't be attainable by tracking cymbals and drums together. There's this extreme clarity and precision that cuts through, as if the cymbals are sitting sonically right on top of the drums, without any bleeding or loss of body in either the drums or the cymbals. It's the exact opposite of what's going on in the Alter Bridge album mentioned in the OP's post.

It's all a matter of production, because if you do it the right way, it can sound wicked. But obviously that takes time and taste, which a lot of mainstream "modern rock" producers lack ;-)

Here's a few songs that I feel nailed what I'm talking about. All of these songs tracked the cymbals after tracking the drums.




 

cworrick

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I've noticed it, but having engineered records in the past cymbals do get in the way in the mix. They're generally a big high frequency wash at the top of the mix, and it's competing for space with guitars and vocals.
I've heard some country drummers saying that they aren't recording with anything smaller than 18". More commonly they are using 20" + crashes. Do you suppose this is the reason?
 

Tmcfour

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I'm no expert, but I have to wonder if this isn't part of the "loudness wars" and mixing for people listening to MP3s on bluetooth earbuds.
I'm sure that's mostly it. Earbuds or bluetooth speakers. Or even worse mixing for the speakers on a smartphone. It's gotta be a hell of way to have to mix the music. Especially with bass. With car speakers or home systems a lot of the bass is felt. You can't really do that with ear buds unless you're actively trying to take someone head off.
 

PaulD

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I'm sure that's mostly it. Earbuds or bluetooth speakers. Or even worse mixing for the speakers on a smartphone. It's gotta be a hell of way to have to mix the music. Especially with bass. With car speakers or home systems a lot of the bass is felt. You can't really do that with ear buds unless you're actively trying to take someone head off.
The sad part is it should be possible for one file to carry multiple mixes, not unlike how an image file can carry multiple processings via layers. Or, alternatively, carry mapping information so the mix can be varied on the fly based on a profile of the playback device.
 

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