Song Facts Single: "Isis Unveiled"
Album:The Century of Self
Date Recorded: over six months in 2008
Producer: ...Trail of Dead, Chris Coady, Frenchie Smith; additional production by Mike McCarthy
Engineers: Jim Vollentine (Mob House, Austin, TX), Jason Buntz (The Bubble, Austin), Chris Coady (DNA Studios, New York)
Mastering Engineer: Greg Calbi (Sterling Sound, New York)
Other Projects: TV on the Radio, Dear Science, Return to Cookie Mountain, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes; Architecture in Helsinki, Places Like This; the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Show Your Bones, Fever to Tell
Single Songwriter: Words by Conrad Keely; Arrangement by ...Trail of Dead
Mixing Monitors: Yamaha NS-10, Genelec 1031A
Mixing Console: Solid State Logic E Series with G computer and modules
Recorder: Analog tape; Pro Tools; Nuendo; Logic
Vocal Signal Chain: Neumann CMV 563 tube microphone, Neve 1066, Urei 1176; in mixing, Federal compressor, Spectrasonics 610, Neve 1066, Empirical Labs Distressor "Isis Unveiled," demonstrates that ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead's enthusiasm for ultra-dense, epic rock 'n' roll remains strong. The first single from The Century of Self, "Isis Unveiled" packs a wall-of-sound blast that would make Phil Spector envious.
The trail of sessions leading to "Isis Unveiled"'s completion was a long one, according to co-producer/mix engineer Chris Coady. "It was tracked to tape, transferred to Pro Tools, transferred to Nuendo, transferred to Logic, transferred back to Pro Tools," he explains at his DNA Studios in New York's East Village, where additional overdubs and all mixing took place.
Seventy tracks make up "Isis Unveiled." "This is the kind of song where having a 'wall of chaos' really fit in with the band's sound," says Coady. "A million guitars, double drums, six percussions, seven vocal tracks, a subsonic bass — and it's suitable for what they do."
A breakdown section features vocals sung by members of the Dragons of Zynth and Shock Cinema. "[Vocalist] Conrad [Keely]'s description for what he wanted the section to sound like was 'an angry mob screaming up at the balcony at Pontius Pilate,'" Coady recalls. "I got a kick out of that, and hopefully that's what he hears.
"In mixing," he continues, "we needed the right reverb for an instrumental guitar breakdown. I'm a big fan of endless reverb sounds that drag over and fill out all the space. I used the Black Hole setting on the Eventide Orville, which is a ridiculously long delay.
"I didn't hesitate to use a lot of plug-ins," Coady adds. "One was the E Channel [from Waves' SSL Collection]. As far as I can tell, this is the best plug-in for general EQ'ing and compression. I wouldn't say it sounds like the board, but I use it just like the board. If anything, I would say it sounds better and more accurate. The console obviously has a three-dimensional sound, but this plug-in is symbolic, a breakthrough where plug-ins started to become good.
"[Digidesign's] Smack is another plug-in I like. The Abbey Road Brilliance pack is pretty good for what I need a plug-in to do. There's some Altiverb, and I used the Bomb Factory compressor. I don't ordinarily use those — my favorite compressor is the 1176. There's some OhmBoyz plug-ins on a guitar — they're RTAS plug-ins that have an extreme effect."
The Century of Self was mixed to ATR Magnetics tape on a Studer A820 tape machine. "It was the first time I'd used it," Coady says of ATR tape, "and it's very good."
Christopher Walsh is the recording editor for Pro Sound News and the associate editor of Pro Audio Review.