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Mask Temple - Link's Awakening - Progressive Electro/Metal Cover

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Salutation everyone!

Please listen to the track (last version):

Every time I start a new track, I think about the story it will tell.
Concerning this one, it's kind of a crossover between The Matrix and the original story of the game: the hacker Link tries to hack into the JANUS system to find answers.
The thing is, nothing goes according to plan...

Regarding the arrangement, I was inspired by different sources, such as Master Boot Record, The Algorithm or to some extend Igorrr (all fantastic bands, but rather extreme), even though I shifted to something different along the way, and added some trance elements.

Overall, I think it's a very fun track, but I lack confidence in my mixing/mastering skills, so I'd appreciate if you could focus more on this aspect.
God, I hope you'll like it as much as I do :D
Really, I'm open to all sorts of feedback.

And of course, thank you for reading all this!

Merry Christmas, happy new year, and have a fun listening

tl;dr: fun electro/metal remix, I'm looking for feedback, and hope to be posted :)

Old version:

Source: Gameboy version / Switch version

Edited by JulienMulard
Added Source

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Wow. I love the progression of this thing. I've heard a piece by Master Boot Record, and can hear the influence. And it's pretty grand. The introductory segment is slick, with the increasing metallic elements. Reminds me of Portal 2. The heavy, synth hit thing (I don't know what it's called) that comes in at 2:45- 2:50) seems a bit odd right next to the more rockin' instruments that come in after it. It's a good transition part, the instrument just sounds a bit weird to me. Still, this is an impressive arrangement. Nice work!

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Thanks for your review Souperion!

Yeah, I went a bit in the experimental territory with this one. What you call "heavy synth hit thing" is just a tonal dance kick with distortion, played at different pitch to play the bassline. It's more of a breakcore thing, and  I was clearly inspired by the remarkable work of Igorrr for this part (this song has a similar kind of breakdown starting at 1:26, and that song has nothing to do with what we're talking about, but is my favorite from this artist, so give a listen maybe?).

Fun fact, I didn't use any kind of guitar for this track, neither real nor sampled, only synths with guitar amps.

Anyway, I am glad you liked it!

I'll wait a bit to see if anyone else have any feedback, and I'll see if I can do a better job at blending the instruments for this section.

Have a great day!

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Okay, so I know I've been tagging this thread as "Ready for Review", and that it means I'm not supposed to touch it until a mod actually review it, but I looked into this kick stuff, and started tweaking things here and there. I changed some stuff in the incriminated section, and added some panning automation to make some "effects" more interesting. I also solved a clicking issue at the beginning of the track.

Feels a bit better for me, and I promise I won't be touching it before an actual mod review.  :D

So... New version here:

I'll update the top post as well. Happy listening!

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Happy new year! Gonna take a listen.

My first impression is that the arrangement is really solid. There isn't really much I would change in terms of the notes written or the structure. The mixing is definitely where I would take another look. Some mixing references I would be comparing this to: (overall) (the kick doesn't have to be as strong as here though)

What comes to mind:

  • Minor nitpick, maybe the bit reduction went a tad far around 1:36. Not a big deal, but I thought I'd mention it, slightly bothers me because in general it generates harsh upper frequencies.
  • I'm guessing you're actually using Shreddage, but (like at 1:48) the guitar seems to be very thin, lacking frequencies below around 300 Hz (to the point where it sounds like FL Slayer?). Also, it appears to be sequenced with fairly unchanging, high velocities so that you're mainly getting the hammer-ons/pull-offs instead of palm mutes. I get that it's playing fast, but it's sounding more like a distorted electronic arpeggio than an actual electric guitar. At the very least, I would not high pass the guitar nearly that much (if you are), and I would also try using MIDI CC automation to turn on Tapping Mode so that it's hopefully more smooth playing that fast.
  • The kick drum is clicky enough, but I'm missing that low end thump (around 40~80 Hz). Try layering on another kick sample that has those frequencies. (I'd recommend using the Layer tool for that.)

    If you're worried about the kick clashing with the bass, that's where sidechaining comes in. I think you know how to do that, but in this case just a little bit is fine, just so that the kick and bass can play at the same time but the kick still can be fully heard. (Maybe you're already doing it, if it's as subtle as I'm suggesting.)
  • At 2:57 - 4:14, you have a very busy, cluttered soundscape, definitely overcompressed. I think compared to version 1, you did improve this aspect, but the issue still remains. As far as the instruments go, the bass, guitar, and kick drum interaction with the Limiter is the main culprit. The default Fruity Limiter, if that's what you're using, is hard to work with if you want to write music where you could end up with a waveform sausage. I think you have two major options.

    1. If you want to keep using it, I'd recommend lowering the Release a bit so that the compression doesn't stay too long, and maybe raising the Ceiling a bit so that you aren't running into overcompression as much. In this case, consider checking the sidechaining of the kick with the bass to adjust for this change in the Limiter settings.

    2. Or... I don't know how much this will make you go back to check the mixing, but I've been using TLs-Pocket Limiter for years, and it's a free soft-knee limiter which has not given me any overcompression issues since I first used it back in 2012-2013. You would have to be careful about clipping, but it will let you basically hear what you give it at face value.

I think that about covers it. The guitar is missing low end frequencies, and has fairly unchanging, high velocities, making it sound more electronic than electric (if that makes sense), and would benefit from Tapping Mode over just playing the notes without prior UI tweaks, just so it has smoother note transitions. The kick is also missing low end thump. And then at 2:57 - 4:14 the soundscape is super cluttered because of the kick and bass competing. The arrangement itself sounds good to me, and I'm behind that.

End of Mod Review

Edited by timaeus222

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Hey Timaeus! Thanks for your review :D

Just to clarify some things, mostly regarding my intentions:

  • there is no guitar, just happy little detuned and filtered sawtooths. I guess what makes it sounds like Sherddage is the amp I used (Revelver HPSE, which came free with Shreddage). I was looking for this "synth sound with distortion" soundscape, but I guess it's in the uncanny valley right now, being both too close to a "true" guitar sound but composed as a synth part (Example from Master Boot Record of what kind of sound I was aiming to). Given this new piece of information, do you think I should push more toward a synthy sound, as it is stylistically what I was aiming for? Or simply use Shreddage? I guess I'll try both and see what it does :)
  • Regarding over compression in the last part, I have sidechaining going on almost all instruments (linked to the kick). I'll try to tune that down and see if that opens up the soundscape a bit. I DO have a limiter, but it's just there to avoid a few instances of clipping. I'll doublecheck it too, though, to be sure.
  • When you talk about the kick missing low end, you're talking about the double bass drums? Or the dance kick? I think it's the former, but I'd just like to be sure.

Thank you for the quick feedback, and have a great day! I'll get to it in the next few days, so stay tuned!

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Yeah, I think you should just use Shreddage then. I was guessing Shreddage because you own it. :-)  The synth sounds like it wants to be a guitar, and is playing the role of one. Might as well give that a go!

Oh, you have sidechaining on almost all instruments? In a metal-sounding ReMix, it should just be between the kick and the bass, and really shouldn't be between anything else because the more you do it, the more pumping it creates (some sounding unintentional). Sidechaining is really just to help the kick come through because it conflicts with the bass's frequencies. Even in more typical EDM, you'd mainly hear subtle sidechaining between kick and bass so the kick can come through, and otherwise, kick and pads for noticeable pumping effects.

The kick missing low end is the one that sounds more acoustic, so yeah, the one you're sequencing like a drum kit kick.

Edited by timaeus222

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