Your experiences with producing/how to make Metal music thread

I know this is an electronic music forum but I hear electronic elements being used in metal…and in other genres as well just curious if Anyone has any knowledge on the music production side of making metal music…

also here are my attempts at trying to produce metal using synthesizers and some drum samples…

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Unlike most people, I started with metal. I never wanted to make electronic music until I discovered all the cool tools that exist, but they were always secondary to how bad I wanted to just write my own metal songs. Ironically, I’m falling out of love with electronic music after about 15 years because I want to focus more on metal.

It’s just a different path. Most people into electronic and other genres would find it boring.

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I guess it depends on what you’re interested in. ‘Metal’ is a pretty broad topic. Production-wise, a lot of modern metal has plenty of drum triggers and precise EQing of detuned guitars, with things kept very quantized. Trying to fit that many lows and mids in a mix is a lot of work. Lots of doubling and tripling of complicated parts.

I like the bit you recorded, especially the synth tones. The phase-y/interference sound is really cool. I could do without the canned trap kit, but that’s just my taste.

Do you have some examples of what you’re curious about?

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the drums are kind of easy, im trying to figure out how replicate that clean yet distorted wall of sound, and the specific parameters of the various synth patches i should use…and mixing it keep in mind i don’t have access to an electric guitar…so…

Similar, but being way cooler than you I started with punk and hardcore, and only got into electronic music after I stumbled upon things like Hammerhead and Tuareg (bram bos rules!).
Then I tried a groove box.
At the beginning it was all about using the tools to some how make punk music, then I stopped caring.


I miss Ad Noiseam.


For me producing metal is really not that different that producing electronic music. Especially since I record my self solo, and program drums. Its just a matter of using a different set of instruments.

I track, i edit, i layer, produce and mix.

some atmospheric doom for you, I wrote this 2(?) years ago.

(oh and reverb, its the common thread through everything i do, be it dance music, IDM, metal, shoegaze, whatever… REVERB)

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interesting…in my attempt at synthesizing it involved lots envelopes, some filters, heavy compression, distortion, eq, reverb all in conjuction with each other…that and of course the chord progression has to make use of flats and sharps in conjuction with whole note chords, switch between minor and major i suppose…the theory side im not too sure about it…

but overall yea in my attempts i find that chase is right it is somewhat similar to electronic music but with different settings on the synths if a person decides to use synths…the sytrus patch i made involved fm modulating the oscillators with a fundamental tone above 1000hz but and some oscillators are modulating each other to get distorted fm feedback i.e. if osc 1 is modulation 6, then 6 should modulate osc 1 to get feedback, that and layering different oscillators with the different oscillators being modulated the other remaining oscillators with some having different envelopes in order to replicate the tones of plucking a string… and i also used unison voice but with the pitch setting turned to 0%, and panning close to maximum to make it stereo, after that I just layered different synth patches, and followed with the effects chain of distortion, filtering, envelopes, compression, and reverb…

had to use double tracking, triple tracking, sends, busses, and eqing and compression combining both dry/wet signals to get the in your face wall of sound…

I really think there’s three general approaches to what you’re talking about:

  1. Make metal music by traditional means, add some electronics
  2. Emulate what’s going on in metal with electronics via samples or similar effects (running stuff through amp sims, using drum samples, etc)
  3. Using electronic devices to create the ‘feel’ of metal, without the usual instrumentation

Those usually end up sounding very different, but still end up being what most people would broadly term ‘metal’. There’s some obvious crossover into industrial, or it could be as simple as keyboards and backing tracks in symphonic or black metal.

The big thing about the second option, and what, in my mind, differentiates it from the third option, is emulating the instrumentation. 99.99% of metal acts have at least some sort of stringed instrument and some sort of percussion instrument. While there are wildly talented players out there, those things can only be played so many ways, and selling the idea of metal to people made by alternative methods seems to hinge on those things sounding ‘right’. Guitars get strummed and plucked, you only have ~4 drums going off at once, etc. People tend to notice when things are played way outside the bounds of what’s usually possible, and that’s easy to do with synths and programming. I’d honestly say tone is less important than getting the instrumentation right if you really want to emulate what metal bands are doing.

The third route would I guess be what leads to industrial music - taking the feel and drive and sentiment of metal and re-imaging it through electronics. Lots of distortion, driving beats, aggressive feel, and so on. This dude is pretty much the poster child for shit like that:

No sampled guitars or Superior Drummer, just a bunch of Elekron equipment, Ableton, and some nifty midi controllers. Ignoring the cool engineering (which tends to be the centerpiece when people talk about him), he’s taking his background as a metal musician and filtering it through electronics. All the usual trappings are there, he just comes at them from a different angle. It’d be hard not to call it metal of some sort (I guess industrial metal would be apt), but it doesn’t involve any of the usual instrumentation or sounds associated with the genre.

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trent Reznor is what comes to mind for the third approach …but he is one against amongst many others…
But yea @Artificer …i made this thread in regards to the second approach sample based emulation with electronics.

But as far as synthesis I suppose I should play around with key modulation tab and other tabs for modulation in sytrus for patches and just layer and mix the different patches…then frequency band split and apply effects…and play around with the waveform of the lfo assigned to modulating an fm oscillator, a combination of square and sine waves might work the best

Tbh for my second attempt I timestretched a granular sample to get a waveform with weird higher harmonics and phases and loaded a small waveform clip into sytrus…added fx and some distortion via a compressor eqed it etc…
And layered it with a bass patch…
And a piano emulation patch…

I just blended the same processes I use hollistically for electronic music being that I do not have the instruments available…

I’d put Trent Reznor firmly in the first or second categories, depending on the era you’re talking about. The parts of his career that really have metal elements (mostly the early stuff - PHM, Broken EP, some of Downward Spiral) are basically rock songs with a lot of electronics going on. The basis and focus is still guitar/bass/drums. His later stuff that isn’t just pure electronic music tends to emulate that same instrumentation and feel. Honestly, I can’t think of a single ‘heavy’ song he’s done that didn’t have actual guitars in it, though I’m not terribly familiar with his later work.

For what you’re talking about doing, I think you’re looking at the right stuff. Guitars have a lot of overtones and natural harmonics, even before distortion, and you’ll definitely need patches with those to get a full sound that comes close to a guitar. Recording actual distorted guitars requires a ton of EQing because they’re almost too full - they tend to fill up the frequency spectrum and step on other elements, so a lot of the production centers around reining them in while maintaining their feel. You may have some luck with going a bit ‘over the top’ with some patches and then pairing them down sonically to fit in the mix.

Beyond that, I’d focus on how those instruments are being played (timing of each chord stum, etc), as well as the arrangement of the instruments. Of course, all that may lead you in new directions where you’re blending things in interesting ways…

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played bass in a metal band in high school (and a punk band). Went into electronic after I graduated when a coworker was into making it, and I started listening what he was doing XD

I adore Master Boot Record for #2 <3 Or maybe it’s 3. I really don’t know their process tbh, but it sounds pretty legit for what it is (obviously drum samples going on).

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I think MBR has stated in the past that it was 100% VST’s / softsynths. I don’t think any if it is actual guitars, but instead distorted synths. Such a great sound, too. Who would’ve thought synthwave metal would be so inviting?

This stuff can be looked up online in much greater detail than this, but this is my process.

If anyone needs inspiration on processing, I pulled up a track (listen here, or below) and decided to share the effect chain (and effects used) on the main rhythm guitars.

In fact, I think this was essentially used on all 5 guitars in this track, just with some different EQ curves and possibly a cab change or two.

In a nutshell, you basically just want to have an amp (the guts) going into a cabinet (the speaker). Everything else is basically just there to beef up your sound, which can include distortion (typically before the amp, as seen with guitar pedals in real life), reverbs after the distortion (but go easy, willya?) and since we have the power, maybe even some EQ and compression way after the ‘guts’ because we also have the power of mixing in a DAW.

This is the traditional variety though. You have a DAW, so don’t be afraid to go nuts. Switch the order. Once you know the ‘rules’, it’s extremely rewarding to break them.

Here’s the meat and potatoes opened up: Guitar rig (distortion), TH3 (amp), NadIR (cabinet).

Again, this is the traditional approach because I was making melodeth and I wanted it to sound somewhat realistic. As you can see, the only thing(s) left on the chain were a simple reverb followed by an EQ, which will be track-specific for anybody’s individual mix, and probably doesn’t need to be shown.

Onto my routing situation…

As you can see, I use strictly basic L-C-R panning, dual tracking on the rhythm, mostly dual tracking on the lead, and sometimes (as you’ll see soon) even quad tracking. This is a somewhat traditional approach, since I’m not going for anything experimental. Some ‘traditional’ (metal) bands have been known to go as high as stacking 4 rhythm tracks per channel (left and right, respectively), so even in a fairly normal scenario you can go kind of nuts.

Stacking guitars like so can result in a ‘blurry’ sound with less transients, which a lot of bands find desirable. Think about how different Periphery sounds than say… Poison?

Last but not least, check out what I did with the arrangement (hey, you can even play the song and look at this at the same time. The future is here!). You can see that I scattered dual leads all around, but strangely I also quad tracked rhythm in there without even having to open up more channels! Some of the leads actually have me playing the base rhythm and then trailing off with a lick, but don’t tell anyone my shitty secrets, please!

There are also some center leads coming and going, and for the sake of not overcrowding the mix they were obviously written and arranged separately.

Since we’ve come this far, here’s the example of FX I have per channel. Nothing crazy, just some attenuation with the EQ and a tiny bit of reverb (which is admittedly acting as a short delay) to make it sound like the cab was reflecting off of something in a potential room with a mic held up to it. It sounds just a little more intimate with a small amount of “pzzz” coming off of it.

I hope this clarifies some stuff, or maybe inspires someone to try it out… even with synths. NaDIR was free, TDR Nova (the EQ) was free, and most of the stuff used on busses / etc were just native plugins.

Also, there are plenty of free distortion units, amps and cab sims scattered across the web. Some bands have even been known to compile an entire ‘freeware sound’ that sounds legit as fuck.