Album Review: Seizure | Grand Master Wizard

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Overview:

IntoThePitUniverse! We’ve got you covered yet again with another album review! This week we bring to you the 3 track EP titled, Grand Master Wizard. The project was spawned by Seizure, a young thrash metal band stomping around West Hollywood in hopes of raw-dogging the local scene. The young musicians formally came together in 2017 and since then have been crafting the creation under review in this piece. I’ll set proper expectations for our readers and note that the group is still fairly green in the art of making records. Opportunities for growth are riddled throughout the project, but luckily half the battle is knowing what to work on. As always, we at #IntoThePit are strong believers in providing useful and constructive feedback to assist the band in enabling growth. What we hope to receive in return are badass albums to review down the road and hopefully an interview with a band that’s on fire. In this review I’ll cover how Seizure ranks in all the key categories of the record creating spectrum and provide insight on areas of growth for future projects. Hope you brought your moshing shoes because we’re heading #IntoThePit.

Let’s dive in.

Seizing Production:

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Seizure’s strongest component of their EP is how diversified their production is. With that being said, the area’s of improvement poke out like a boner in sweatpants. I’ll cover the imperfections first and deliver the proper kudos at the end of this section. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how much it smells like cat piss.

The biggest critique I have regarding the production of the EP is something younger groups often have trouble grappling. If I had to sum it up in one word, I’d use the word “patience”. To expand on that word, I would use the phrase “attention to detail”.

Take a second and consider the time it took as a band to come together, plan for rehearsal, endure the writing process, record each member’s parts, and finally arriving to the stage where the project is finished and ready to be distributed to the masses. Once the record is uploaded to the cloud, fans now have the chance to listen to it FOREVER! Any imperfections are magnified simply because fans can listen to the same song over, and over, and over again. This is why the bands who master the art of recording get paid mega bucks. They’ve become insanely talented at paying attention to details and utilizing patience to achieve that “perfect take”. Where do you think all of those “hours in the studio” come from?

On Grand Master Wizard, there were a couple of elements that fell out of timing pocket often enough to feel they were worth pointing out. Taking time to perfect these sections and paying attention to the spacing would’ve taken the experience of the album to a higher level. Certain group attacks lagged off the down beat as well as a few drum fills riding across the toms that felt sloppy in the moment. On the lead guitar, phrases fluctuated slightly on and off beat. The only two ways to correct these timing debacles would be to record the “perfect take” where every note, hit, and phrase is in time front to back, or have an experienced engineer align these elements during the mixing phase. Since there were plenty of moments throughout this project that were correctly in time, I’d be willing to bet that with more attention to detail and patience in the recording process, fixing the issue of timing would be accomplished strictly by the sheer talent the group possess.

Now on to what I did enjoy from the production. I hinted at this earlier but I’ll come out and say it. For a younger band, Seizure harnesses the musical diversity on par with that of a seasoned group. Switching from half time grooves to an up-tempo thrash delivery  seems second nature to the collective. Solo’s weren’t incredibly complicated and faltered in their performance due to timing discrepancies but were well placed and felt appropriate as far as arrangement. This displays a strong aptitude for musical awareness.

The delivery style of the lead vocal compares to that of a twisted riddle being spoken instead of adopting the traditional screaming approach. As future records evolve with the group allowing for more proficient performances all around, the style of this lead vocal has the potential of being iconic and widely accepted gaining fans strictly from that alone. The background of group screams/growls accenting the end phrases of the main vocal were accomplished in a competent manner as well. It provided the needed vocal presence since the main vocal was rarely layered.

Lastly in the realm of production, done well was the use of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor on the first song of the EP. Hearing the piece in the intro allowed me to become more excited for the rest of the project and showcased the band’s openness to being creative in a cultured manner.

Production Score: 3.4/5

Into The Mix:

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The mix of Grand Master Wizard was one I’d consider to be “safely” executed. Most instrumental elements seemed to have been recorded competently which is a mixing engineer’s wet dream. The mix simply seemed as though there were very few creative liberties taken. An engineer’s toolbox can be as vast  or simplistic as they allow it to be as long as it’s used to positively enhance the world being created by the band. With that being said, comparing this EP to mixes by elite bands in the genre, the instruments are primarily lacking sonic energy.

Where I receive most of the energy from on this project is just in loudness of the music instead of the actual tonality of the instruments themselves. How I know this is because when listening at a lower volume, the tones of the instruments seem dull. To provide an example, think of a cloudy day outside. Looking up, you’re able to see the sun and even though it’s hazy, you can still fairly make out it’s outlining. On a clear day with zero clouds, you’re getting the full effect of the sun and all it has to offer because the clouds aren’t there to prevent it’s shine. An average or bad mix for any band would be considered the clouds in this scenario. It doesn’t allow the instruments to be received as well as they could be. A restricting mix will cause a lack excitement and energy, no matter how awesome the shredding is. Sure it can be blamed on the band members and their choice of instruments, but the mixing stage is the last gate keeper before it’s printed to the master recording.

For future recordings, I’d recommend a more in depth mixing approach taking a little more time carving out frequencies in each instrument that aren’t needed and bringing out desirable areas that are. Become open to integrating more effects not only on the instruments themselves but on the surrounding delays and reverbs for extra ear candy. Animation of the features in the mixing software will start adding more character and life to the music. Adopting more aggressive compression techniques for the percussive elements will enable the pressure behind the drums and larger group attacks to possess more weight and power.

Mixing is the treatment of each individual instrument to work together sonically. Allowing for more attention and care to be placed into the mixing stage will enhance how well the music creates it’s own atmosphere and captures it’s listeners. Ever feel lost in space and time listening to an album? This is why. Aspects of the mix that were well received ranged from stereo panning methods and the stereo spread of group vocals. The awareness and methodical utilization of the stereo field was greatly appreciated from a critics point of view and helped keep the music interesting as the EP unfolded.

Mix Score: 3.1/5

A Mastered Experience:

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Having been on both ends of the mastering process, there’s one thing that I look for when critiquing a mastered record or project.

Can I listen to this project from top to bottom and it sound cohesive all the way through?

Cycling through “Grand Master Wizard” I noticed that each of the 3 tracks were adequately matched in terms of overall volume, equalization and compression. With those being the 3 main categories involved in the mastering process, I’d answer the mastering question with a “yes”, this is a cohesive project top to bottom. In regards to the sonic quality of the master, I believe it’s hindered a bit by the dullness already present in the mix of the EP. When blasting these records through car speakers or personal headphones, the dullness will hardly bother the listener unless they’re bouncing back in forth between major bands of a similar genre.

The best way to grow in the mastering department is to go into it with a killer mix of the individual songs. If the mixes sounds great, the master will make it shine that much better. If a mix is off the mark, the master will often magnify those shortcomings that’s causing it to miss said mark. Seeking out top of the line mastering can be costly, but very effective. The difference of power and weight in the newly mastered tracks will become addicting. Everything will just hit harder, cleaner, and with more energy without having to increase the volume on listening devices. With Seizure being this early in their career, there’s plenty of time to make it to that stage. Getting detailed with production, successfully recording the best takes possible and executing on great mixes of individual songs will provide a final mastered project comparable to bands of the highest caliber. That in itself will allow to group to become a band of the highest caliber.

Master Score: 3.3/5

Final Thoughts:

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As I mentioned earlier, Seizure is young and fairly green to the art of recording records. The bright side is they’ve already started the process of growth just by taking the first step of putting out their music. This feedback is meant to provide a perspective that helps fuel that growth and hopefully allows it to happen sooner rather than later. We all just want to hear the best music possible at the end of the day. Personally, I’m rooting for the followup to Grand Master Wizard to see how diverse than band can continue to be and to hear the difference in the overall execution of the project. To recap, key is patience and attention to detail in this game. You’ve successfully put yourself out there, time to reach out and grab what you deserve. Congratulations to the members of Seizure for the successful release of Grand Master Wizard. The #IntoThePitUniverse and I will be anxiously awaiting the next time you make a splash in the metal scene. Until then, good luck!

Into The Pit Score: 3.3/5

 

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