The 11th Hour Studio Diary #4

So here’s a special fucking treat if ever there was one. Ed “Hogwarts” Warby (as he’s known to friends) is writing for this blog to give updates on his HIGHLY anticipated (by this Angry Metal Guy) follow up to Burden of Grief which is one of my favorite doom records ever. He’ll be periodically checking in with the written word as watching him in his studio would be about as exciting as watching Ihsahn was in his (i.e., not fucking entertaining at all; watching flies fuck; paint dry; corpses decay without time-lapse). Enjoy! AMG

October 3rd – 23rd

As Murphy would have it I got sick right after the Way Of Darkness weekend (which was a blast by the way, it’s always fun to hit the road with the Bullets). We drove together with Stephan and Paul’s other band Thanatos who were also performing and during the trip everyone around me was coughing and sneezing, so I was doomed from the start: bye bye singing voice, hello sore throat, running nose and general misery. In the meantime Ronnie kept working on the mix, and gradually we’ve arrived at a truly massive sound that’s both clear and huge. The guitar tone is even heavier than last time, something I didn’t think possible. Of course me being the perfectionist I am I’ve been driving Ronnie crazy with notes saying “add some delay here”, “do a slow fade there”, “some less reverb here”, and countless other details. I keep telling him it’s not as bad as last time when we had to literally work around the clock for several days to finish everything in time, but I’m sure I’m one of his more demanding clients. The end result is what counts though, and once this is done we’ll both have an album to be very, very proud of.

Which brings us to today; yesterday night I finally managed to record the last vocals (I ended up using the demo tracks for 2 songs, sometimes a first or second take it’s so good no 100 retakes can replicate it), a small but very important harmony with some rather tricky winding melodies. As always I did a few takes so today I picked the best stuff and combined it into a coherent track. Once I turned on all the other channels it was pure magic, a nice reward for all the hard work.

We’re entering the last week before the deadline, but unless something disastrous happens we’ll be done well in time. Sometimes it’s difficult to remain enthusiastic about songs you’ve heard thousands of times by now, but yesterday when I was going through the latest batch of mixes I got chills several times… and that’s a good sign!

The 11th Hour - Lacrima MortisToday I also received the final draft of the artwork and booklet, courtesy of my good friend Mick Koopman. I can’t disclose what the cover will look like yet, but it’s a very striking image, kudos as well to my brilliant photographer Hannah Anthonysz for shooting a very powerful and detailed picture. So, by now it’s been months since the original deadline but it’s all been for a good cause, namely creating an album I can put out there with complete satisfaction and confidence, knowing I’ve done the best job I possibly could. I’m just sorry I wasn’t able to honor my father by having the album released on the anniversary of his passing, but I’m sure he’ll understand. I made up for it in another way…

October 29th

Today we have a show at the renowned Hammer Of Doom festival in Warzburg, Germany. It’s probably the biggest doom fest there is and I’m nervous as hell, especially since we’ll be doing 2 new songs (which we already debuted at the Dublin Doom Day, but still). It’s a long drive so wake up time is 5.30, groan… the showwent well despite some technical problems (whoever decided that 15 minutes is enough time for change over and line check should really have his head examined), and the crowd seems to dig our doom a lot. I even hear some people singing along in the front rows, nice!

October 31st

Today my sister’s getting married (actually it’s a registered partnership which for all intents and purposes comes down to the same thing), and since it’s Halloween we’re all dressed up which causes quite a few raised eyebrows at city hall. I myself am donning a rather eye-catching wizard’s robe, maybe I’ll wear it for the next 11th Hour gig… (Please do so!AMG) After the ceremony we all head back to her house for coffee and a festive dinner, but at the same time in a studio in Sweden Ronnie is putting the ultimate definite last most final touches on the mix of the album so every once in a while I sneak out to give him a call or send an e-mail. In the evening I get the latest mix and me being the hellish perfectionist I am there’s still some minor points to fix, but most people would already consider this a master file.

November 2nd

This is it, deadline day! We already sent the artwork and promo pics to Napalm Records and after some frantic last minute fixes Ronnie will create the master DDP file (thank god we don’t have to send it by snail mail, I know from experience that couriers have a habit of losing particularly important parcels). Of course this has to be checked, re-checked and double-checked so we’ll send it off tomorrow. I can’t imagine how empty my life will be after having this load of doom on my shoulders for 8 grueling months. I honestly thought this one would be a breeze as I demoed everything thoroughly and have a lot more experience, but looking back it was just as tough as the first time ’round. I’ve already decided that the next album will be a group effort, I do enjoy doing this on my own for several reasons but I think 2 DIY albums are enough for one lifetime. Besides, the band I have assembled is well up to the task, as Pim has proved very convincingly by delivering a truly monstrous performance.

And now the countdown to January 27th starts… but life goes on: 11th Hour band rehearsal tonight, playing Oberhausen and Dublin with the Bullets this weekend, headlining the Dutch Doom Days with 11th Hour the weekend after, no rest for the wicked!

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