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*NO* Duke Nukem 3D 'The Only Way to Be Sure'

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Smittenden

Oliver O'Neill
35181
 
Duke Nukem 3D
Aliens, Say Your Prayers!
The Only Way to Be Sure
 
Always liked this tune though it's generally overlooked falling within the the long shadow of Grabbag and Stalker. Funny thing is for a long time I'd assumed it was written by Lee Jackson but as I worked on it I recognized it as Bobby Prince's handwriting.
 
In the original, the introduction presents the bass and kick upfront which is a strong memorable characteristic but I decided to postpone them and instead kick things off with the melody. I thought it would sound nice played in isolation and sure enough, it holds up well. Gives the piece a spacey quality which seems fitting considering the subject matter. Then just wrapped things up with the timeless Duke dun-dun-dun motif.
 
Edited by Rexy

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Very slow burn intro, maybe a bit long at nearly 25% of the arrangement but not horrible.  Once the bass kicks in, the leads are pretty quiet--you can make them out but the bass and especially the vox pad are stepping all over them.  The square wave gets a little shrill, too.

It's an enjoyable, energetic arrangement, but I think it really needs to breathe.  The percussion, bass, and vox pad are relentless and almost unvarying.  It just keeps building and building, and it's exhausting, especially towards the end when there are what sounds like three pads and three harmony lines, just in what I can pick out.  Put in a bridge with some of that spacey work from the intro, add a breakdown, something to reduce auditory fatigue, and clean up that climax so the listener can appreciate everything that's going on in there.

NO (resubmit)

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Man, so many good things about this one.  I love the heavy bass, the drums, the synths and ambience, including the textures introducing the song, are all pretty great.  The adaptation puts the original under a new light for me. I have but one complaint and that is that this mix got really smashed at the mastering level.  The dynamic range is almost non-existant, at least to my ears.  More than the arrangement itself, this makes the listener's ears get tired pretty quickly.  And well, I smash my songs fairly hard too so if I find it's too much, you know it's gone a bit overboard.

I want to hear this with a more relaxed mix where the different elements have more room to breathe. Please consider another mastering pass.

NO (please resubmit)

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Arrangement-wise, the framework plays it safe with one run-through of the source.   And through this limited structure, it was left open for some new ideas like the creepy ambient opening, the pitch-bending expression on the lead synths and some building chords in the background.  It's not a groundbreaking interpretation, but the genre change and sound palette gave it enough to make it sound like your unique take.

But here's the big problem that I have - your mastering.  The ambient intro was pleasant, but starting at 0:54, the dynamic level reached its peak and never eased off until the ending - and the drums were yet to appear by then.  You got the right idea with side-chaining your pads, but they're still hard to hear later in the mix when the drums, bass and leads all fought for the forefront.

Here are some ideas to fix this dynamic smash - if there's a limiter evolved in the mix, consider weakening its settings and re-adjust any instrumentation manually.  But let's say they're all compressed without a limiter for some reason.  In that case, it'll be a good idea to go over the compressor settings on each separate part or do some EQ separation to cement their position within the soundscape.

I'm in favor of the genre adaptation for sure, but I'd like to see this return to the inbox with the dynamics issue addressed.  It'll be lovely to see you submit again.

NO (resubmit)

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