try parallel processing the lead with reverb and delay. try modulation in a way that the lead swells and drops. For e.g tempo sync the modulation with a low pass filter so that it can rise till the 4th beat and drop at one every bar or two bars. Gets aggressive takes a step back, again gets aggressive. Gets a lot of play in that aggression
Stack Multiple leads (some of the older Wavetable Softsynths like Tone2 Gladiator & Waldorf Largo are especially good for aggressive multi-stacking), fine-tune downwards by around -15/-25 points, EQ-boost 7k-14k by a small amount, detune-spread some of the lead-work, utilise some faint LFO-work in to make the end-tail of your notation sound abit more dramatic. If all else fails, slap Gorgon on the FX channel and channel your inner destructive nature!
Currently Listening To:Tactical Sekt - Uncivil Liberties
It depends on what you mean by 'lead' and 'vicious' (I'm sorry dude, someone had to say it)
...but I'm just going to assume you mean 'lead synth' and 'vicious' in my subjective understanding of the terms aand
tbh imho, soft synths can only go so far. Sure, soft synths are great and malleable, but I find I can never quite get that harsh throbbing 'viciousness' quite right.
The source has to be awesome. The synth has to be awesome. No amount of digital emulation can quite stand up to a good, clean sawtooth audio sample from the likes of Electron or DSI. (Added bonus: tremendously intuitive workflow.)
THAT HAVING BEEN SAID,
You do have to work with the imported audio sample to get that gutsy spluttering creature growl on your lead... I just add buckets of distortion, maybe twiddle the pormanteau, adjust LFO as desired, and make sure the lead sits exactly in the centre of the mix.
But really... anything's fair game in this. What works for me may not work for you. And vice versa. Happy exploring!!
I've found you can get away with something super intensely detuned and vibrato-y to the point that it's barely musical anymore if you layer a cleaner synth on top, like a bell or something. (this is assuming you're going for musical rather than noise)
A lot of it comes down to melody though. The sickest lead in the world still isn't going to make Mary had a Little Lamb sound vicious.
I use Camel Crusher to distort and compress. It's a free VST if you were interested. That really lets my synths pop out if I use it correctly. Presets should also give you a good idea on how you can alter the sound. If you don't have/want CC, just put some distortion and/or compression on it.
Vibrato and detuning could make it sound Eerie and vicious, phasers on the oscillators can really change the sound and make it more aggressive. Put an LFO on a phaser for one of your oscillators and see how it sounds.
Originally Posted by joem
Its not the vst that makes the man but the man, that makes the vst.
No one seems to have mentioned it yet, but contrast is incredibly important. It's the idea that you can't have light without dark, can't have big without small. To help give the impression of a full and vicious lead, you can have a sound that is smaller, darker and more subdued. Layering three distorted synth sounds is going to be a lot less effective than layering three contrasting sounds. For instance you could layer a really distorted bright synth, with a darker more reverb and mellow pluck synth, with a tiny percussive layer.