Belgian outfit Essence draw inspiration from the most creative and progressive denizens of the metalcore persuasion, their layered assault evoking, though never aping, the best-in-class likes of Architects and Misery Signals. Their vocalist has been battling a severe chronic illness for almost ten years and this has led him to re-evaluate what is important in life. Where this new found awareness is relevant to Essence’s thundering, juggernaut grooves and sparkling melody-labyrinths, is that Michiel’s epiphany forms the backbone of the band’s compelling new EP, Smoke And Mirrors. Here guitarist Maarten discusses the studio process of creating the 5 tracker…
It’s been a long process writing and recording these new songs for the Smoke And Mirrors EP. As soon as we’d found our new guitar player Stein and had taught him the live set we play, we slowly eased into writing with him. This required time, in order to get used to each other’s style of writing music, but as soon as we started making guitar riffs, it all came together very well!
As I have a small ‘home studio’, where we also have our rehearsal room, it meant we self-recorded our last release The Defining Elements, with production by Adam Nolly Getgood from Periphery. Planning this time to also self-record, we got in touch with Julian Rodriguez, guitarist of Elitist and owner of Parallel Focus Studios. As we had always liked his work with Elitist and the production of their songs, we sent over some pré productions for a single and luckily he was interested in working with us. When we start working on ideas and riffs for songs, we immediately record them as ‘pre-productions’ to, so we had recorded all of the songs on this EP several times before we started recording them for the final version.
Obviously we worked out the drums first, but we had the majority of them done while making the pre productions. So the studio time really began with tracking some small parts of drums, guitars, bass and vocals, so Julian could already start working on the sound we were aiming for, while we recorded all of the tracks.
Then we started recording guitars together. These were mostly done by myself whenever I was home, and at the weekends Stein came over to record his self-written parts. We dry-tracked all the guitars in about three to four weeks. In the meantime Julian had already sent us over some awesome sounding guitar tones, so we had an idea on how the guitars would sound in the end, and together we found the final tone for the guitars.
Next followed bass, which we recorded in exactly the same as we did for guitars. Whenever we had spare time during the week we dry-tracked all the bass, which was done very fast. Slowly the album was taking shape!
With all the instrumentals recorded, it was time for Michiel to get into the vocal booth. Since Michiel had been sick for a long time and we were recording the EP at the end of his recovery period, he still had to take it slow. Luckily enough he also has recording equipment at home, so he could do it by himself whenever he felt good to record. This only took a few weeks, so off everything went to Julian so he could start working on the final mix and master. The turnaround was really quick as he’d already been working on the various stages. We couldn’t be more satisfied with how the EP sound turned out!