Free Preview: The Right Album Lineup


Mastering Metal Songwriting


Lesson Info

Free Preview: The Right Album Lineup

Nowadays, people don't think about albums too much anymore because every single comes out on the internet and, uh, honestly, I think that that could be part of why, you know, sells wells because the construction of the product isn't is not thought through quite a cz much as it was once upon time, there is lots of factors involved in it, but I think that's one of them and I think that you look a this is one of the highest selling death metal album of all time, it's not because the last song sounds like a last song, but that certainly doesn't hurt, and I know that that's something that you think about a lot is howyou sequence your albums, so I wanted to go through actually, I'm more of an angel record and point out maybe what similarities it would have to what you would do on one of your records, not now by copying them, but just like the way a good albums instructed twenty years ago is not that different than how a good album would be constructed now. No, um, I think that the one thing ...

we talked about and goal is tio make people listen all the way through without stopping, which is really tough to do absolutely very hard, yeah had gone, I am has been been earlier in the album people might have stopped because the end of that song is like a feeling of finality you know I mean it's exhausting it's rewarding it feels good but it's also like it drags you down you know you might not want to listen to that next song came after it so that's why? One of the reasons why it's a perfect closer it was on improperly sequenced record and they put that fourth or whatever I think they would have lost the whole crowd would have been gone I think bansi that with their live show to by accident you know in advertising but we're talking about songs um it's interesting though how how uh there any like um like actual technical descriptive terms you can think of that would make something sound like a closer to you? You know, uh it could have big open chords you know, I could typically to me things wrist I have a lot of finality, teo are big like like things that like are really epic you know what I mean? You might say, but as faras technical just that's it's hard to describe its hard to describe but I think you just describe it definitely slower paced, bigger sounding uh I guess deever sounding voice sings like that's definitely something that people can consciously make a decision to do and I'm just addressing that cause I was asked that question like how do you write a good closing track? And I mean there's no rules sometimes closing tracks or the fastest track on the album yes later does that yeah, they do real well, but I think that there's I think that there's a purpose to it, which is that either exclamation point, musical, exclamation point or it's thought that thought, yeah, but you've got to make that choice it's not just some song that could be third or fourth and that's partly goal album how we're going to start this how we're gonna end it and you have you when you're sequencing a record dio I guess try different songs first and listen in order no, no, no, no, no we have a mission either we make a rift and we say that would make a good opening or we just say, like in france for a ban on life, we made a conscious decision to open the record with heavy, slow part like a bone crushing have heavy, slow part that's it's interesting uh, agree that band should do that it's uh, just when we were talking earlier the whole thing about you'll have one idea that seems right, you know, it comes to music like how to structure things and then abandon come along the new things opposite you're gonna be great. I have experienced lots of times where bands will be like this is the opening track it's got open like this it's like no, that sucks sometimes it's good, but for the most part, it's like you have to have a mission like, for instance, we could talk about something new and relevant like the new carcass record, it opens with a track that's similar to the hellion from judas priest on screen for vengeance it's a multi larry guitar part, they wouldn't have written that to be anywhere else in the album other than the opening part it's probably I say this I don't think it would've fit anywhere else on that record, and then the next song is the thrashes song on the album it's like a minute and a half, two minute long song and it's it's, the most raging song on the album, has the least amount of changes it's like, obviously they wanted you to get this epic guitar thing into a punch you in the face opening song, I've got another relevant example that is ever black black like tar that's I mean, I know for a fact that that was a conscious choice to start the way it starts with slow and epic, but whether or not I knew for a fact that could've definitely guessed it, it sounds like an opening sounds like an interaction sounds like an introduction metallica roll battery is an introduction there's no way that they did it that's an introduction song yeah it's it's weird though I've always tried to do this how do you define when a band gets it right and one of being is wrong and I guess how do you define what a band write a good song a bad song but it is I think it is good teo define that that's what you want to do another style of intro that I think could be just as effective is a slow build intro some bands do that slayer has done that quite a few times. What are having? Yeah that's that's a great one uh where you know it doesn't have to start with a bang but it still sounds like an intro for whatever reason has not random because I feel that that had come track four track three the song we haven't yet had the impact that it did yeah one have worked um I guess uh so one thing that's super important I guess is people teo keep in mind how song feels in terms of where it goes. Another thing that we talked about that is super important and, uh, I've heard this from people in lots of styles is that every song have at least one part that differentiated from every other song even if you've got a similar formula were going on if like us into this but like screaming versus and clean courses you it's even if four songs on the album do that teo really be successful I don't mean sales wasjust artistically successful with the songs I think you need to do something to set them apart even it was just one far something that makes that song special yeah gives it a reason for people listen to it yeah or else it just filler so you try to put that in every one of your songs yes absolutely yeah there's there's a part in every single one of our songs and abandon all life that has something that no other song has whether it's an overall vibe or a physical apart like a physical part and I guess when you're coming up with that uh may sound dumb but do you get down like an actual list of like, you know, I don't know that I don't you know I've always wanted to do is paint my wall in my bedroom you could paint it chalk there's a chalk paint and you could just write stuff down and I think of things that sometimes I don't write in my phone like we were talking about earlier that I wish I revert down like for instance we wrote a song on abandon all life called god's cold hands and the slow part of that song is the guitars are chugging its like riff but it's like that's how the guitars go and the drums are through to the like the drums, the drums the kick drum is going like this we don't have a part like that and that was one of those things that wrote itself it was organic it was in the practice room we're practicing the part that came before it and I just started like taylor stop playing drums and I just started chugging and and then he looked at me and he felt it and you just started playing that trophy I know it sounds crazy but that's that was raw that was organic and you know, we don't we didn't have any other parts on the record like that so that was a happy accident but it's in we decided right there that that's absolutely making it sounds awesome that sounds fresh we don't have a partner in context of nails it sounded fresh like that's great I think there would be nothing wrong with actually going down a list I don't think so either. I mean as long as your song sounds inspiring to you, what does it matter? I mean it's uh I don't think it's embarrassing well, I mean it doesn't mean that you have to force apart, doesn't it? I think it's more that you're just keeping you're just giving score who have you got twelve songs and maybe a list of, like sixteen or so different unique ideas that you would like to throw into a song at some point if it showed up just keeping a tally of that stuff, we'll keep you from repeating yourself, like, for instance, if it's apart like the one you just mentioned, if it's something that's on your mind that you consciously want to try some point, if you're not keeping score, you might end up doing it like five times. I might not have the riff for today, but I'm the rift tomorrow, but it's just good to know, like, I would like to have a part that has a vibe like this, or at least I won't have a part where the drums are going like that, and just to keep that on the brain is completely fine. I do that all the time. Yeah, absolutely, I think that's super important and I guess relating that back to the morgue angel, there were record that we're talking about most of the songs on that album in addition of the in addition of being placed in the exact right spot, all have, I guess, the what of griff, or the thing that sets it apart so all the interests of song are different? All the courses have a different mind, it's you know it's it falls within the umbrella of death metal and it falls within the umbrella of morbid angel sound especially for that record but it all has little things that differentiate the songs with each other yeah tranche other absolutely I want to go through a few of them just just to point out and uh I think whether or not you listen to this record you can't really argue with its success and the fact that people still hold on to it like a classic for the shauna and my it might be one of those things now we're of a thirteen year old picked it up they might think it was a little too old school but this record came out when I was twelve or thirteen years old and is too extreme for me at the time it was a little something I didn't appreciate the later in life a little too extreme for me as well except for the slower songs but I think okay, so it has an intro of it's a very short intro but it's still just an intro and fade up for the record and that's how you identify that's how you identify an opening track you're setting overall tone for the record that's an opening track yeah absolutely like if it had started on say, the next song which a lot of bands make the mistake of going with the fastest song first like ah it's a cool song is a great song painted fine six song but it's I mean rapture is the clear opener too not just that I think we need to play through the whole song but if people go back and listen to rapture the thing about it that's really good about unopened track and van should keep this in mind when writing opening tracks is it kind of has a little bit of what every song on the record does yes it's good it's maybe a good representation of the whole record might not be the best song on the record but it's the best guys ever not it's not an average song but like hell the medium the median between all the songs like it's yeah it sets the tone of the record and it represents almost every song on the record in some sort of way yeah totally like I mean it's halftime on I guess it goes fast as hell later on when it comes into the slow part forget it yeah that's kind of like a like that kind of has an element of god of emptiness right there absolutely kinda sludgy atmospheric part yeah eso it covers all bases I think there's no hard and fast rule that you have to like do that on an opening track but one of the things that I think really makes an album suffer in the long run is to kind of I guess have a really inappropriate song first where there's where it's too different from everything else to where it doesn't set the tone right like it is to slow the whole time and you're getting ready for a slow record and then everything else was just brutally fast or just like a name properly paste movie or something it's a good idea to start it good I guess a good average point between all the things and then another trick that they used second is a trick that so many bands of uses then go into the fastest, almost raging song on the record absolutely yeah now it's not that you have to go into the most raging song and the record second or anything like that this is no general a real mover though after a second track well, it's gotta be different enough that's the way they're nothing and in the context of this there's nothing else that goes quite this fast like it does in spurts but that doesn't start the phone yet. I think pacing wise, the point is to I have enough differentiation between the tracks toe where listener is definitely going on more of a journey and then definitely was song three it goes slow like pop music you know, I think these tricks these sequencing tricks came from pop music yeah, absolutely, you know, like not saying more, but angel took took from nirvana but it's like uh never mind bye nirvana's smells like teen spirit in bloom come as you are whereas this is rapture pain divine world yeah as three completely different moods and the contrast each other perfectly what the third song is like the slow song the song you really dig into yeah something that you else that you pointed out about the third song so now people haven't heard this basically the two slowest songs on the record are the third song and the last song there's seven songs apart man is pretty arguable that if they were closer together you would put people to sleep again I think that this is something that uh seems obvious to some people but if it was really that obvious and every album would be awesome and people wouldn't need help with their albums because they were just know how to sequence them and uh heroin would be flying on jets and sell million records but they don't because this stuff is actually a lot harder than people realize manly because it's hard I think really evaluate your own work like it's hard to really know where where you're at may not manages one of the main one of the important things so it was a skipped uh I couldn't really find what was good about the next song other than that it's just a medium uh less ofyou have something but uh the only thing I can say that says it's different enough to not lose your attention. I mean, you could. You could say that about that's for sure. I mean, you could listen to this album all the way through. Even the noise track, it's. Only a minute and a half long. Yeah, I guess that that's true. One thing that it almost sets up god of nts, that distracting one thing that is perfectly done. And you see this in cinema. You see this in great albums. You see this in a great works of classical music, just great pacing to where, even if you don't like something the best. And even if it's not the best track on there is a great live shows to its over. But before you could get sick of it. Well, also it has. It has its reason for existing in the spot that it's, like vengeance is mine. Is that what it's called the floor song on that record? Yes, vengeance is mine. It's typically it's a fast song, and it comes right out of one of the slower songs on the record. Like that song serves its purpose. For where it's at now, it might not be a great a song. I mean, I think it's pretty ill, but it makes sense where it's out on the record I have someone else's songs like that too like it's not it might be a great be song for us, but as far as the flow of the album it has its purpose on where it's at it might dip down might not be a great a song, but it makes sense are reading an interview with billy corgan a long time ago where he was being interviewed I think about a song that I released for a movie light and became a big hit or something forget which one and it may be a year after the album it was written for came out he wrote it for the album but they didn't put it out on that limb on dh you got asked why they had such an awesome song was capable of being such a big hit and put it on the hour said because it didn't fit on the album there's no logical place for it to go and the interviewer was talking to him as though it was a big mistake but the album still sold four million records and then they still had their single in a movie a year let it that he proud that they probably more money off of because that song wasn't a movie yes so it probably wasn't a mistake in retrospect so I think I think the lesson to be learned from that though is sometimes the decision that we made to go it's a basic air on the side of the quality of the record, not on the quality of this and there's a lot of sacrifices you have to make, you might have a great song or killer riff that you want to put into a record, but it's just it might sound too silman do another riff on the record, and we have that same problem. We have a rift that I wrote after the wide open wound riff that we played earlier, that sounds almost similar, but it's just it's good that we're going to put on our next record, and we wrote that at the same time and it killed us and it still kills us that we don't have a song based around it. Um, and you just have to make that sacrifice. You have to make sacrifices to make your album awesome beginning that's also part of what we talked about earlier, that you've got to be willing to ditch your stuff. It's not working out. Lots of bands aren't willing to do that, and it manifests itself with bands don't have three good songs on it, do you ten for songs that our seven minutes long, when they should be three and a half minutes long or a bunch of cool songs that all sound exactly the same I mean I guess some bands do that it's ok but in general it's not okay you got a really special band pull that trick absolute I think in the long run it meaning you know after the dust has settled trends are gone one of the things that keeps a band alive is how well their albums were put together and whether or not someone from a different generation who isn't there to understand the I guess the trendy context can still put it on bill yeah this is cool somehow like for instance layer of and abel teo keep it going kind of course and we'll keep it going there's some bands that have been able teo pull it off to where thirteen or fourteen year old now we'll put put it on and be like cool down where we'll put another band from the same era that's arguably maybe even better and this shit's lame uh and I think a lot of it has to do with how the end products put together so it was moving on with this I think that basically it it goes through a series of fast feels which is cool that's what death metal bands do a lot but then it gets teo I think where it would normally start to get boring at least for me as a listener too many songs of fast in a row and I can't handle any more and I know that if I can't handle it anymore then you're actually listening public maybe thirty seconds behind like I'm getting bored at a minute they're in board in a minute thirty sure so I think I'm starting to get bored somewhere on song seven by track a everybody else would be bored and so I think that right here uh really really clever use of a track that sounds nothing like any other track uh it's angela disease track yeah uh it's a different singer different recording it's just a total oddball track and again it's not really one of the best songs on the record but it's placed exactly right toe where if someone I'm sure this is conscious to where someone is starting tio get bored of hearing the same death metal sound suddenly it's radically different you compare it it's like everything about it's different it's not as good but it's it has a different decision has, you know, breaks up the vibe of the record. It sounds like an older recording that I'm inspired trackers yeah, it sounds like a classic metal but it's it kind of sounds crappy but like it's not that cool of a song but it's uh just remember when I would listen to this all the way through somehow it always get my attention uh there's a lot to be said for that contrast yeah uh that's something else that I think bands don't pay attention to enough when sequencing their records is contrast of the whole thing. So basically you have a song before the sounds like this pretty fast and then into this sounds completely different and then once again it goes right back into a different style for track it now one thing that we were talking about with track eight which is again maybe not the best song on the album if it had come in on track six to track seven or track five maybe it would have not been that interesting, but the fact that it came after the oddball try one of them had the impact yeah, exactly the thing that that is interesting to me that you said that you don't do that a lot of bands I know do is you said you don't put your mixes like in the order you think I should go and then listen chronologically teo see if your album order was straight you know when we write a song and pretty much know where it's gonna go on the record interesting so there's pretty much no if it's a side a song or side b song at least I know that and I also all know if a song is an opening song or if it's an ending song we got a lot of great questions actually in the chat sure go for you have time for one question lunch take a lunch break so out of the screen name this why I had to asked this celine dion is in the chat room with us wants to know has the fact that people are listening to albums differently changed how you structure them or even the structure of the song like for example, people are buying one song off of itunes versus used to get the whole record and he didn't have a choice if you bought the cd right? So has that changed the way that you think about song structures or do you still think about all songs is part of the cohesive like record? You listen to a song from now and it was a new song from ten years ago our twenty years ago good courses a good course right? Like if if you hear a hit from a while ago, maybe the recording quality is different or whatever but just like you showed with the muse example that opened this up with uh greatly written songs it greatly written song so I don't think that the actual song writing should be what changes its just a marketing vehicle good song is a good song period also I grew up listening to you know nirvana nevermind metallica master of puppets but that's albums that may be not master of puppets let's say black album that were pop music at the time that they came out and they're structured like pop music albums and nails by all means or carry on or the terror records that I help make are certainly not pop music on I would never refer to them is that but they you know they were they were structured like pop albums, not just that the metallica examples perfect because highest selling album of the sound scan era and still to this day, it outsells just about everyone of the newer bands that are marketed in this new way. So how does that how does that answer that a band, a record from a whole different era is still outselling your records when structured in the old way? I think that it just has to do with quality quality of songs, and I just I don't I don't really see how that changes the one thing I will say that I have noticed that has changed quite a bit is the bar for ah musicianship has dropped pretty damn low but that's a whole other conversations you have to cover that in the end one of the later segment do you have any other questions? Musicianship one oh one yeah, what is what are the best way to handle having too many riffs inspired by each other so like, I guess variations on a theme um and how can you arrange them so that they make sense? Is there a short answer to that or is it so you basically have you you have a ton of riffs that sound same yeah huh? We just say make good choices pick the best one you know what it pick pick the best one and if it's a chorus riff let's say it's a chorus riff right averse rift before that sounds a little different than the other song that you're gonna make with us a riff that sounds similar like maybe make that riff the second riff put it in the second song make that oversensitive a chorus just really use all the tools you can that you have to make things just a little bit different because the majority of listeners don't understand like subtle changes, really. But as a person who is writing a song it's your job to understand and to create subtle changes and with an album what's the worst that can happen that you have a bunch of cool risk having good yeah yeah get on with your business record yeah good for you, you're rocking it's probably I think that I've heard and I know that a lot of bands like to stay ahead of themselves somewhat by like having their next record maybe not ridden all the way through but at least somewhat flushed out, or at least direction to find it. So there's. Nothing wrong with having stuff that may not fit on this record. Carry over to the next one.

Class Description

It’s easy for musicians to get so caught up in the latest gear, plugins, and presets, and forget that ultimately, it’s all about the music. Join Eyal Levi and special guests Ryan Clark (Demon Hunter), Todd Jones (Nails, Terror), and John Browne (Monuments) for an in-depth exploration of what it takes to craft great songs.

Eyal will share the tricks of the songwriting trade he’s learned over years of experience as a producer at Audiohammer Studios (The Black Dahlia Murder, August Burns Red, Whitechapel) and guitarist for Century Media/Roadrunner artists Daath. Throughout this two-day course, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the three core components of metal/rock songwriting. You’ll learn about basic song structure and riff-writing; melodies, leads, and vocals; and fine-tuning the arrangement to take your song from good to great. Eyal will be joined by special guests -- from musicians to producers and more -- who will empower you to take your songwriting to new heights.


Mike Lamb

This was a massively inspirational and incredibly helpful course. By the end of it I had a notebook full of incredibly useful tips and tricks, and I definitely plan a rewatch as soon as possible. I've been in bands writing songs for the better part of 15 years, but this has put a lot of focus on some of the corners I've cut or the areas where I've been lazy with the smaller details. No matter where you are in your songwriting you'll definitely benefit from this, and Eyal articulates everything in an engaging way and positive way. Even if you think you're a good songwriter, there's a tonne here you can benefit from. 10/10 - Thanks Eyal!