If this is Graham's rehearsal rig...

... what will his live rig be like?!

He's very happy with his Hartke setup at the moment. We'll have a full report about his gear soon, as well as the lowdown (pun intended) on what he used for the recording of the Three Kings album.

18 Apr 2014

Steve talks about guitars, gear and recording

Based on some questions received on twitter, Facebook and web forums, Steve has put together some info about the recording of Three Kings and the gear he uses live:

How did you get the guitar sound on Three Kings?

All the guitars on Three Kings were recorded using my Fractal Audio AxeFX Ultra. The rhythm parts are all quad- tracked, two using the Das Metall model (which is based on a Diezel VH4) through the Cali cab, and two using the FAS Modern (a custom amp based on a Mesa) through a downloaded cab IR which I have since lost! It actually sounded much like the Cali cab, but with less top-end "fizz". No mic modelling was used, and I captured a DI of all the parts just in case, but ended up not needing them.

The clean parts used a variety of amp models, mainly the USA Clean (based on a Mesa Boogie MKIV clean channel) but this varied from track to track based on what kind of texture was needed. I recorded the clean parts from the AxeFX in stereo with whatever effects I needed such as chorus or phase, but I added reverb and delay in the DAW so they sound like they're in the same space as the rest of the instruments.

Guitar wise, I used one of my Jackson KV2's with a fairly standard EMG 81/85 combo at 18 volts, and my Jackson KV4 with an EMG 85/60 combo at 18 volts. Both guitars are strung with D'Addario 10-52 strings. Dave used a number of different Charvel guitars which have a mix of pickups (he has probably the largest and best collection of Charvel guitars in the country!) and he uses D'Addario 9-42 strings. For the clean parts, we used my Line6 Variax 500, typically in Tele or Strat mode, and I believe we used one of the acoustic 12-string models for the intro to Out Of Eden. It adds a certain other-worldly quality to the sound, which is quite apt given the subject matter of the song!

The acoustic guitars were done with a Takamine, mic'ed with a couple of SDC mics at the 12th fret, with one pointing at the soundhole and one pointing more towards the neck. Both mics were placed about 12 inches away from the guitar and were running through an SM Pro compressor on a very gentle setting.

Overall, there's very little post-processing going on the DAW, just a little top'n'tailing frequency-wise. I like to pan the rhythm tracks almost all the way out to the side. I find if you hard pan right to the sides, things can sound a bit odd in headphones when only one side is playing.

What is your live rig?

My live rig is based around the same AxeFX Ultra, with the Das Metall and USA Clean models. I typically use around 7 or 8 patches - a dry-ish clean sound, a wet clean sound, a main rhythm sound, a slightly louder rhythm sound with some delay that I can use for quieter solo or harmony parts, and a full-on lead sound. There are a couple of song-specific patches for Cuchulain's Story and Beware In Time which have some harmonising and spacey sounds going on. The switching happens via a Rolls MIDI Buddy pedalboard that is wired to receive phantom power from the AxeFX. I don't use any other pedals or effects, which helps keep everything simple and compact.

From the stereo outputs of the AxeFX, the right channel goes through a Cali cab so it can go straight to FOH or be used for recording/monitoring purposes, and the left channel goes to a Rocktron Velocity 300 which goes into two Marshall 1960B cabs. All the guys in Stormzone are using the Line6 G30 wirelesses at the moment, which work great.

I'll use one guitar for the whole set unless I break a string, and on any given night I choose from the two Jackson's mentioned above, or my other Jackson KV2 which has an EMG 81/81 combo at 9 volts. They're all setup pretty much identically aside from the pickups so there's no problem switching between them.

It's not always possible to travel with my full rig, of course, so I have what I laughingly call my "fly rig" which consists of a POD X3 Live with a Line6 G30 wireless attached to the top. This can be plugged into the power-amp of any decent amplifier and sounds pretty damn good!

\m/ Steve \m/

1 Apr 2014

Live review: Chord Blossom

No longer are they just another local band, doing the rounds of the local venues in regular cycles. No longer are they prophets not accepted in their own country. This is a band that is at long last starting to get national and international recognition and their home town fans, many of them in bands themselves, now look up to Stormzone as the torch bearers for local Heavy Rock across the world. There is no petty, small-town envy, there is only admiration.

Full review »

18 Mar 2014

News: Stormzone unplugged

A message from Harv:

The St Patricks Day celebrations are now in full swing across the USA and thanks to Alan Cooke we had the opportunity to participate in the occasion by recording various versions of a few Stormzone songs in keeping with the atmosphere of this traditional time of year. It gave us the chance to strip things down a little (stop it!!) and approach The Greatest sacrifice, Where We belong and The Pass Loning with a sense of the 'unplugged'. These versions are now being aired on US and Canadian radio stations all night! Full plugged in normal service will be resumed at Metalfest on Easter Monday, but for now, after a long day on the Guinness, relax and join us during our own St Patrick's Day get together!!

18 Mar 2014

Live review: The Rock Hub

To say I was blown away is an understatement, these guys are incredible live. The musicianship is second to none, the quality just screams out. Beautifully crafted chugging rhythms from the bass and percussion section, perfect timing throughout, incredible guitar work, all topped off with the amazing vocal range of lead singer John “Harv” Harbinson.

Full review »

12 Mar 2014

Live review: Planet Mosh

The only thing missing from Stormzone’s fiery homecoming is a battery of pyrotechnics at the start of ‘Where We Belong’: and this is a band who most definitely are where they belong – on stage, in front of a hugely appreciative audience and giving it large all round. They are a band who instil a unique passion in their hometown crowd – so much so that some fans even have flown home from Spain just to catch this special show! They are rewarded with a typical Stormzone set – and then some – as Harv (definitely one of the most charismatic frontmen in metal) leads his troops through yet another powerhouse of a performance, delivered with gleeful, almost childlike, grins throughout.

Full review »

11 Mar 2014

News: Blazefest re-cap from Harv

9 Mar 2014

Interview: PlanetMosh

Of course, you’re continuing to promote the enormously successful ‘Three Kings’ album: are you pleased with the reception the album has received since it was released in the summer?

“Just based on sales alone we are as pleased as punch! The first pressing of the album sold out before Christmas and our record company, Metal Nation, has already sold further copies from a new pressing. Add to that the fact that we have sold almost 600 copies at gigs and by our own means, well, a lot of people have ‘Three Kings’ in their collection right now and it is continuing to sell. That’s also due to the fact that even though it was officially released by the record company in September last year we are constantly getting reviews and interviews each month as if the album was just released, which gets us more exposure and encourages a few more sales. Last month [for example] we received an excellent review in Burrn magazine, Japan’s rock and metal bible! That keeps things truly fresh and relevant, and is actually indicative of the reaction to the album since its release.

Full interview »

5 Mar 2014

Review: RXR Radio Network

The bottom line is, whether you like, grew up with or just discovering some of the great metal bands of the 80’s and 90’s, you will love this album. It’s just enough of those influences wrapped into an all original sound, engineered for 2013. This is a cd that should be apart of your collection that will surely grab your attention with uncompromising songwriting, riffs and vocal harmonies.

Full review »

3 Mar 2014

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    Date: 21 April 2014
    Location: Diamond Rock Club, Ballymena

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    Date: 16 May 2014
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    With Eden's Curse. Support from Estrella

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    Date: 27 June 2014
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