Monday, January 30, 2012

Album Blueprints: How Many Cylinders Are You Firing On?

I remember having a conversation with Sajid ‘Sarj’ Masood, Benevolent’s co-producer, (and one of the main factors that brought our sound to the shape that it came out through); we basically were talking about the upcoming Benevolent album and this was way early on in the writing process, months and months ago, and the idea of having a “blueprint” for the album came about. This would basically be like a rough mission statement of what we would like to achieve from the album as far as what elements are coming into play, and I believe this has truly served the write process well and definitely put things into perspective.

This was a great thing for me to have personally because I’m always anxious and stressing about the very little details going into the album’s writing process and what elements the songs are entertaining; is it too much? Is it too little? Is it just about right?

When we sat down and figured out a rough blueprint for the upcoming record it changed the game plan positively because I felt like I was writing with more purpose, I was writing songs for them to be included on the record instead of writing songs off the fly with little perspective or vision as far as how they serve the big picture of the album’s sound.

I remember us doing something similar unconsciously during the Divided EP sessions where Sarj came up and said “Alright, you’ve got a couple songs that have this specific feel; now you need another song that sounds a bit on that other send of your style and push things in that direction.” The best part of it all is that I find myself getting super inspired by things that those around me are saying about the music I’m writing, so it makes me consider things from a very broad view; although, I think a musician is truly able to get as close as possible to listen to his/her music for what it really is, rather than be stuck in a bubble thinking it sounds a certain way, much kudos go out to that person!

Keep producing!

It's happening!

Hey guys!

So we [Benevolent] are getting ready to start tracking the new album, the final collection of songs going into the production is a fine mix of hard-hitting, melancholy, and progressive songs with lots of chugging and shimmering melodies; I CAN’T WAIT!

Basically, what’s going to happen is we’re going to get on with tracking down the bass to scratch MIDI drums. I really can’t wait to get down to designing the bass tone and getting on with tracking things up, I think the guys are gonna rip through this album and it’s going to be a very fun experience.

I am pretty sure we’re going to be experimenting with some of the song structure when need be, in addition to adding up some more enticing layers than there already is. It’s a whole lot like cooking, you’ve gotta have the right ingredients in there, but even with the right ingredients there has to be a control as to not have that stuff on there with an overload.

We’re going to start with the song with the working title of PODISBACK, which actually is probably my favorite song on the record right now. It’s as heavy as Chuck Norris’s beard and has a very cool overall drive with lots of textures and an interesting dreamy selection of sounds.

So yea, we start with tracking the bass, and then get on with doing guitars; while simultaneously working on the preproduction work for the vocal bits. It’s exciting, we’re nervous and excited!



Thursday, January 26, 2012

[PRESS RELEASE] Benevolent: "We are wrapping up the writing process for our debut full length"

Benevolent’s co-founder (guitarist/co-vocalist) Hadi Sarieddine has confirmed that the band is nearing the end of the writing and preproduction process for the debut full length album, which is the follow up to the highly toutedDivided EP (2010) which saw the band take the Middle East metal scene by storm, leading the Lebanese-founded metal band into the signing with Spellbind Records alongside Middle East metal icons Nervecell.

Hadi describes the material as “dramatic, technical, uneasy, and progressive” stating that the album is a step up from the bands’ previous work and pushes the band’s limits and boundaries ahead.

“This album’s definitely a fine blend of lots of dramatic moments, the songs are heavier than before and I think it’s an honest attempt at pushing our artistic limits further”

In talk about the songs in the album, Hadi had this to say

“The songs are longer, the soundscapes and textural backgrounds are there and there’s a whole new tuning on the album…I think there’s only one or two songs that share the tunings used on Divided EP and I’ve taken that as a conscious decision, I wanted to explore writing riffs in different tunings…it felt like uncharted territory for me and that definitely got the creative juices flowing!”

The band will record the debut untitled full-length with Sajid ‘Sarj’ Masood who worked with the band on Divided EP and has been repeatedly cited as one of the main factors that allowed the band’s sound to be experienced in the manner that it did. Though the band has not set a date as to when the recording of the album will start, the album is expected to be out in stores through the spring of 2012.

Benevolent had previously announced the release of a single in 2011 prior to the end of the year, however, this had been changed and confirmed by Fadi (band’s co-founder and lead vocalist) that the song intended as a single will indeed be featured on the full length instead.

“We had a song planned for release as a single through Q4 of 2011 and though we haven’t released that song yet it will SURELY be featured on the debut full-length, it’s one of our favorite songs!”

On a final note, Hadi has been blogging on the progress with regards to the Benevolent album in addition to other things such as songwriting and production methodologies, do check out the blog at to keep up with all the updates!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Interview on Metal Music Production - Talking Divided EP's production

Hey guys!

Here's a really extensive interview talking about the production process of Divided EP with lots of info on gear and what not! It's pretty cool!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Enjoyable Music & Inspirational Music: Are they the same?

I’ve been analyzing the patterns in which I listen to music and how different genres/styles make me feel during and after. My self-analysis of listening patterns has made me realize that I tend to categorize music into two main sections:

1. Enjoyable: Music that I listen to just for what it is, enjoy it, sing along, unwind to!

2. Inspirational: Music that acts as the catalyst to a complex chemical reaction eventually leading to anxiousness and self-inflicted violence if I don’t grab a Guitar, plug into Logic, load up Superior Drummer, and get to work!

So, what sets apart the two categories?

I guess that there are certain genres and styles that I listen to that don’t start a fire on the creative side of my brain, just for the sake of unwinding and to really capture the absolute listening experience that the song was intended to disperse (for example: acoustic rock, radio hits, etc). With such genres I find myself just at ease while listening, good music for driving, walking, post-work hours unwinding time; you know? Just music for the fun of it!

On the other end of the spectrum are genres and bands that, when I am listening to, give me a sensation of being injected with some sort of a substance that leaves me in a state where I just need to get a hold of a guitar right that second and start working on new song ideas. It’s an instantaneous sensation; actually, I don’t really go through an entire discography of a band to have to get the creative goggles on.

To be fair, there always is as cross-over period of time where the Enjoyable songs spark an inspiration and other times (lots of times) where the Inspirational songs are just being tuned to strictly for the fun of listening to them. I guess it also depends on what time of the year it is, am I working on new material at the time when I’m tuning in to the Inspirational songs? Am I opening doors for inspirational ideas to be absorbed?

The truth is, if you’re ever inspired about and toward something, you can never turn that inspiration on and even if you’re unaware that an absorption is taking place your senses may very well be soaking up a little of all the things that you are exposed to, be it music, art, movies, something you read, or whatever it may that triggers your senses.

Finally, here’s a list of bands that to me belong to each of the afore-mentioned categories. (Note that INSPIRATIONAL bands are REALLY ENJOYABLE too!)

Spock’s Beard
Neal Morse
Woods of Ypres
A Perfect Circle
Maroon 5
Alter Bridge*
Linkin Park*
Breaking Benjamin*
Guns N Roses

Dream Theater
Scar Symmetry
Symphony X
Lamb of God
Stealing Axion
Linkin Park*
Killswitch Engage
Fear Factory
Alter Bridge*
Breaking Benjamin*
Porcupine Tree

*indicates bands that are on both sides 

Talk soon!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Method and Approach to Polyrhythms

Explaining Benevolent’s songs ‘Purgatory’ & ‘The Quantum Paradox’ 

So I wanted to write his one up for a while, the songs ‘Purgatory’ and ‘The Quantum Paradox’ off of Benevolent’s debut EP ‘Divided’ have a few of my favorite moments to play live, and those are the polyrhythmic bits where there’s an oscillation of two beats on top of each other (which is what a polyrhythmic beat is) and resolving together towards the end of the overall pattern. 

So let’s start with the basics, what does the term polyrhythm mean? 

A polyrhythm is when you have more than one rhythm on top of each other being played simultaneously. Though lots of instruments can contribute to a polyrhythm, the drums are what really set it apart and put it to the groove. Commonly in metal, you’d find drummers following the guitar pattern with the kick drum, that oscillating around straightforward cymbal work and with the snares sitting on regular 4/4 patterns. 

Let’s get into how those this was utilized in the songs PURGATORY and THE QUANTUM PARADOX; 


The song Purgatory’s polyrhythm section takes place at 00:27, and is based on a very simple pattern in 10/16 (or 5/8) looping (or oscillating) over a 4/4 measure. The pattern is as follows: 
Notes explanation:

TWO 16th – ONE 16th REST – TWO 16th – ONE 16th REST – THREE 16th – ONE 16th REST

In simple, 2/2/3 (add a rest in between each note)


How did I know it is a 10/16?

SIMPLE: We’re playing 16th notes over bpm 160. SO let’s count the number of notes based on that little breakdown I added up:

2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 3 + 1 = 10

As you can see, the pattern on takes up 10/16 of a 4/4 beat.

So, what creates that cool groovy poly sound?

It’s pretty simple, in a complicated way; basically if the drums were playing a 5/8 beat over the 5/8 pattern then the entire band would be doing the same exact rhythm and that is no longer considered a polyrhythm. The simple fact that the drummer is entertaining a 4/4 feel to the rhythm is exactly what is creating this cool groove, is the rotation of the pattern around the simple 4/4 feel that’s giving it that really interesting mathematical sound.

Note that the pattern is broken up and both drums and guitars are in a synchronized rhythm at the 3rd beat of the 8th bar.

The entire pattern:

The Quantum Paradox

The polyrhythm in the song The Quantum Paradox takes place at 01:26, this one’s based on a little more complicated pattern (And a longer one); pattern is:

Notes Explanation:


In simple, 3/2/2/5/2/2 (add a rest in between each note)

As you can see, this pattern is in 11/8 (or 22/16).


How did I know it is a 22/16?

SIMPLE: We’re playing 16th notes over bpm 160. SO let’s count the number of notes based on that little breakdown I added up:

3 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 5 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 = 22

The pattern of 22/16 is, just as in Purgatory, looping and revolving around a 4/4 beat with the cymbals and snares falling exactly where an average-Joe beat would be like!

As explained in the Purgatory example, the oscillation of the two rhythms over each other is resulting in a very interesting mathematical groove.

Note that the pattern is broken and a “resolving” riff is introduced at the 8th bar as to give an indication of the end of this section and the beginning of the next in a more audible sense. (This is good news for us live as well since it allows us to be able to feel when to switch to the next bit together without the need of an accountant on stage) 

The entire pattern:

So, yea

Finally, I hope that this was a helpful little lesson! Hit me up if you’ve got any questions or comments!

I’ll do another piece in the near future on where you can draw inspiration for interesting polyrhythm ideas without overdoing the same feel or repeating your good old ideas.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What Inspires You?

Hey guys,

I think one of the most important things about being an artist/musician is knowing what triggers your creative juices and makes you want to unleash some awesome wrath (In case of metal heads) to the universe (Also known as the internet!).

It really is all about being inspired and getting that urge to create something new. This NEW something could be picking up certain vibes that a song reverberates, a feel that a movie gives, or a story that you come across. The very interesting thing about inspiration and using that drive to create new ideas is that the perception in which we enjoy music/other forms of art and the way they move us is different from one person to the other. When two different people look at the same painting, they both may admire it and even get inspired by it BUT that doesn’t mean that they are looking at the very same parts of the paintings, or that they have been moved in the same direction by the art.

I met a jazz musician back in 2006, I was talking scales, modes, and jazz movements with him trying to get some questions answered from a true pro, and he said something that has changed my view towards the concept of inspiration up until this very day; he said “I’ve created my original style of playing and composing by trying to copy my favorite musicians”. Once I’ve placed that sentence in terms of technique, playing style, compositional style, production, and overall sound, it all just made sense because when you’re feeding off the inspiration of your favorite musicians/artists/authors/etc is when the true genius in you comes out.

So what inspires ME personally?

Here’s what gets my creative juices flowing (with specific examples):

1.       Live concert videos

I wrote the song “Haunting Shores” immediately after watching Arch Enemy’s “Tyrant of the Rising Sun” concert DVD. I just couldn’t not write music after watching such an intense, intricate, and raw live performance.

2.       Performing live / Going to live shows

Watching Zygnema’s live set at Metal Asylum Festival 2011, and performing up on stage just got me so inspired. I remember going to bed at 5 am after the show and waking up at 8 am, starting up my laptop and getting right to writing a new song! Hats off to all the other bands from the show!

3.       Behind the scenes footage of bands (preparing for shows / on the road / etc)

I guess this just boils down to seeing the vibe and psych that bands are in once on the road and with their game faces on.

4.       Drums playthroughs

Watching videos of really technical and groovy drummers on YouTube really just sets me into the groove to riff up some ideas! A lot of the times when I write music it all just starts with the drum beat, whether it is a fast beat, a triplet gallop one, or a polyrhythm, the drums are usually the first to be placed into the DAW

5.       Horror movies

Due to the fact that I enjoy working with so much background textures and haunting sound effects, horror movies really do set me in the right direction for that!

6.       Guitar playthroughs

This one is pretty basic since I’m a guitarist mainly. Though I find myself uninspired by virtuoso playing (Though I truly appreciate virtuoso players and have been driven by them through my years of playing), due to several reasons, I am more into watching videos of songs with very interesting structures and rhythmic phrases, that stuff is unreal!

Alright folks, I’m off for now! More yapping soon!