Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New years ambitions

I've been thinking what I want to come out of 2015, and so I came up with this list of resolutions ambitions.

I think the most important thing is to get into a university to study audio engineering, specifically into either of my top choices; Cardiff or Liverpool.
To me, university seems like a good way to get out into the real world more, live independently, get to know more people, study a subject i'm interested in depth...there are lots of decent things about it and I just feel it's a logical step to take in progressing..through life?
Of course, I'll need to get decent grades for uni, so good A level results are by default an ambition.

Passing my driving theory test is also an important thing for me to do next year, mostly because of living in the middle of nowhere, which means relying on buses all the time. Being able to drive will also help with getting out and meeting people more often, as every time I go out, it's often a dilema of 'Why am I spending £5 on a bus fare to go out for half an hour" to exaggerate. Plus I need to be damn certain the plans i've made are going ahead, otherwise I may as well have chucked the £5 away..
I've booked my first (and hopefully last) practical test for the 9th of February, so i've got two months or so to bug my parents to come out driving with me!

Another thing I want/need to do is get a fucking job. I've been lazy about it this year. Tried looking around some local pubs, but they didn't need any staff. After that I got a bit lazy about it, but now that i'll hopefully be driving soon, it should give me more freedom in terms of looking wider for jobs, and not being tied to using public transport to get to them.

Musically, I want to practice guitar more often, and do more composition, maybe even have another shot at forming a band?
Also, more importantly I really want to get more recording done (of bands, sing-song artists..whatever I can do really), considering i'll be going to uni to study audio engineering, any experience will be good.
One thing I know that will be happening, is one of our music BTEC modules where we have to do Foli work and general sound design for a film or TV clip. This will probably be a good challenge, and i'll probably see if I can lead a few people from our class as a team, and go around collecting recordings for the project. We could always use copyright free samples downloaded off the web, but it seems i'm often prone to wanting to do things the hard way.

Right now, my last ambition of 2014 is to find something to do tonight for new years..

Friday, 26 December 2014

Car

In my last blog post I said that I would upload more and better photos of my car.

So, as promised:







Also I should mention that I'm hoping to take the practical test around the end of January! That is if I can persuade my parents to come driving with me often enough..

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Lack

I haven't been doing much of late. I can  pretty much summarize the last month by saying: gaming (lots..too much?), driving, lack of being social at weekends and being lazy with college work.

Being unemployed at the moment (At the moment, isn't necessary, and not that easy to find decent shifts, am likely to look for a job again in the new year), I find I have a lot of time over the weekends compared to other people working. This means it's not that easy to make social plans, so I haven't been going out many weekends. I can deal with it, but I find after a while I feel like I need to get back on track and regularly meet up with friends and hang out. I've also been slacking on college work, not to the point where it's hard to catch up (in most cases), but i'm not preparing ahead of time, and i'm starting to mentally feel that i'm not doing enough, which is probably true...

I've been using a fair bit of this up free time gaming, no-lifeing on World of Warcraft (usually two 4 hour nights a week at minimum, not counting the casual playing, which at a rough guess is more an hour or more per day?) which while it's kept me busy, lately i've started to become a little burnt out by it and sometimes thinking 'Why not play? I've got no particular things to be doing at the moment, and I don't feel like sorting out college work just yet'. I don't feel like quitting the game or gaming in general, however I feel like I should be changing my priorities in terms of the work/gaming balance and also spending much more of the times when i'm not gaming/doing college work socializing and meeting people.

I pretty think that I need to be more proactive. I've given myself enough time to laze out, now I need to get my life a bit more on track. 
...I could start by deep cleaning my now 2 months dirty room for fucks sake..

The positive thing that i've been doing is driving. I started lessons back at the end of September, and at the start of November, my wonderful parents brought me a car! This was both to start up an insurance premium, given how expensive it is for young drivers, and also to allow me to practice driving more. I now drive to college every day, which has benefited me a lot in terms of practicing routines and general driving skills. It's been nice to be able to drive in, as it means I can wake up later, and there aren't any repercussions if I don't get out of the house quick enough, which before would mean missing the bus to college. That said, because of this i've started to become very lax in my morning timekeeping, seemingly getting out of the door later and later as the weeks go by.

The car they brought me is a Toyota Yaris. It runs well, taking corners smoothly at speed, and generally in good condition over all for its age. Looking at the insides, you wouldn't think it was 12 years old. It's also really comfortable to sit in and all very straightforward to use. My only complaint about it is the fact that it's a two door car. Given that when i'm driving, someone is always in the passenger seat, I always have to shuffle the seats about to fit things in the back..but well, it's a minor issue, and frankly i'm lucky to have a car as it is...
I'm hoping to get the test out of the way around next January, so I can drive to and from college easily, it'll allow me much more mobility in terms of being social, and also in terms of jobs, I could then not be so restricted by assessing whether I could apply for a job based on it's distance from a bus stop.

Here is a rather shitty phone camera picture of my Yaris. I'll probably upload some decent pictures at some point in the future.


Friday, 28 November 2014

Looking forward

Last night, I was doing my usual thing at 1 am, lying in bed, not bothering to go to sleep yet, browsing random stuff on the net. For some reason I had decided to look up crazy university stories that people posted on the student room, which of course almost always involving being drunk. It got me thinking, not just about pranks to play and drinking games..

I'm looking forward to uni quite a lot. Obviously studying audio engineering is a big part of what i'm looking forward to, but a fair bit of it is of course the social aspect of it, and entailed with that, living in the city again. While nights out in Salisbury aren't the best..it was nice being able to decide on any given night to go out, and stumble back home at 2am. It's so much harder to even organise weekend plans now, no "I wonder who might be out, let's cycle to town and see" anymore.
I miss the convince of living in town.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Blog update (part 2)

The next gig I saw was of a rather different genre. The headlining band I had seen last year, with Karnivool. I went with my dad, and it just happened that the friend I saw TesseracT with last year was there too. I'll be honest that the main reason I went was because Animals as Leaders were playing. 

One interesting part of the lineup was the opening act, Navene-K. This is an electronic solo project by Animals as Leaders ex drummer. He makes a lot of use of looping and playback software, playing a prerecorded electronic track in the background, playing guitar and looping it, then playing drums, encorproating electronic samples with it. I was mostly interested in hearing this because it was something NEW. People playing live drums along to electronic music isn't particular new to me, however what he was doing, creating almost all of the performance himself through his extensive looper use was. I'm interested in this as lately with issues organising a band, I've been entertaining the idea of playing dual guitar songs myself, using loopers & of course writing songs suitable for that use. His set was pretty good. On YouTube had watched one or two sets that he had done ealrier during the tour, but often there can be fairly big differences between live and recorded performances, usually to do with the venue and the sound engineers. 

Next up were Animals as Leaders. Needless to say, their set was incredible. The played a lot of material from their latest album, which I was pleased by, as I think it is their strongest one to date. Tosin, their lead guitarist used a lot of looping, playing rhythms and doing solos over them while Javier, their second guitarist played the bass lines. The fact the group did not have, or need a bassist was interesting, as at times, both Javier and Tosin were playing heavy, chunky bass lines on their guitars using slap techniques. The tonal creativity their axe-fxs allowed must have contributed to this, but it was still impressive, for them to have such a full, heavy sound with a three piece band that rarely relied on a backing track. During one of the songs, Tosin also used a rather strange seven string guitar which I never knew about, which can't be described with words..



Seeing him pick it up and play it was a rather odd surprise for me. In my opinion, they were the highlight of the night, partially because this was my first time seeing them, but also because they were just so tight live. 

TesseracT were on last, with a change since I had last seen them. A little while ago during the summer, they announced that their vocalist, Ashe had left the band (on good terms). In his place they had got Daniel Tompkins, who had sung for them on their album One, before Ashe joined the band. It was interesting having heard both vocalists live as it showed up each of their strengths and weaknesses. I think that while Ashe sometimes found it hard to hit the really high notes, his voice flowed so well, and he sustained notes much longer than Daniel. On the other hand, Dan had a much stronger voice, hitting incredibly high notes, and also had a better growling voice. One thing I was not expecting was that Daniel, who sung a lot of harsh vocals when he was previously in the band, seemed to mostly be sticking to clean vocals, which I guess is because that is the direction the band is heading in. I can't honestly say I prefer the band with either of their lineups, they both have different advantages. 

The next gig going to is Parkway Drive, Northlane, Carnifex and Heaven Shall Burn in Bristol!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Blog update (Part 1)

It's been a while since I posted on here, so I felt an update is long due.

Over the last two months, I've been to some great gigs, beginning with seeing Opeth & Alcest on the 10th of October. It was the start of the first tour Opeth had done since two years previous, not counting a few festivals last year, which Mikael himself said didn't go too well for them.
I went with my dad, buying the tickets for him to pay him back. For me, Opeth were on my 'bucket list' and rightly so. Aside from being a great live band, sounding very close to the original records (to me the material they played from Pale Communion sounded exactly like on album!), their stage presence was great, Mikael being humorous & joking with the audience, despite how he repeatedly mentioned how nervous they were, given that it was their first non festival gig they had done in two years.
Their set list was quite odd, they varied it between all 11 albums they had done, nearly covering every one. This meant playing a lot of their older more metal material, which was great. However given that I wasn't so acquainted with their pre-2005 material, some of the songs I didn't know especially well, however that didn't detract at all from the performance.

Alcest were an interesting support act, to define their genre, I'd call them a shoegazey metal band, often referencing death and black metal styles. I had listened to some of their music before the gig, however most of their material was new to me. Considering how full and ambient their sound is, it was hard to perfect this at a gig. They did it well, and it sounded good aside from the vocals which were set a little too quiet.
The vocals were another interesting thing about the band; they were all in French. It was a nice change, rather than to see yet another non-English nationality band write their music in English instead of their native language. The French language & the way it flowed also suited the music.
An interesting point, as someone interested in guitars, amps & audio engineering, it was interesting to see their guitarists using Jazz Choruses and slamming them with pedals to get a distorted sound; I've never really heard many metal artists getting their tone that way.

Considering Opeth have been one of my favorite artists for quite a while, buying merch was a must. While I am a little against the idea of getting yet another black band T-shirt, I felt this one was deserving.


Opeth Setlist:
1) Eternal Rains Will Come
2) Cusp of Eternity
3) Bleak
4) The Moor
5) Advent
6) Elysian Woes
7) Windowpane
8) April Ethereal
9) The Devil's Orchard
10) The Lotus Eater
11) The Grand Conjuration

Encore:
Deliverance

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Free verse poetry

Maybe they're normal. Or not? The stabbing wasn't, but he was mostly to blame
Either way it was the past
The crazy is still there though, definitely
Somehow loveable, despite the scars, despite the arrogance, despite the past
Outside the kings arms, they're hard to miss, with their stranger-brought JD & coke, smoking a cheap fag, a folded bike jacket in one arm

The room is messy & cluttered, nothing of particular significance
It's only temporary, it seems it always is, clothes half unpacked from boxes, draped carelessly across the few surfaces about the room
Not welcoming to stranger nor friend

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Internal dialogue

"Well fuck, that's it ruined. What do I do now?" he said, in a hard, unchanging voice. In response, the other side of room replied "well ain't it fucking obvious? You change the game plan, that's nothing new to you!" "I suppose so" he sighed he replied. "Yeah, I know. I've been there before, It's tricky & a pain in the ass, but its for the best. Plus, you got out of there early, you certainly know what happens when you let obsessions take over.." he shuddered.
"Well, I suppose It's back to the start for me then. As you said, pain in the ass, but fuck it, its good experience for later works. Besides, I couldn't really see it fly anyhow, even if I was working with a fairly empty sketch.
"So what now then?"
"Who the fuck knows? Go about life as normal. Junk the old picture I started, find a new canvas to work on, and paint my life away! Besides, you know that other thing I've been working on..the self portrait..well yeah, that's pretty important to me still, so I've gotta get on with that. I need to sell it, earn myself a living!"
"That's the spirit! Last time I saw you were in this dilemma, you were so fucked up, broken even. That work, that you had put so much effort into, just..ended."
"Yeah, I was, I had spent seven months creating an overworked painting that looked terrible even in my designs, of course i'd feel shit when my attempts to fix an already ruined piece weren't working.

Thinking about it, it's great. Now I'm free to do anything. If I want I could be the next Picasso, or who knows, earn enough of cash off selling paintings, get a model girlfriend, spend my life partying!
As much as a good painting is great, I also fucking love a blank canvas. The boundaries are limitless."

Monday, 6 October 2014

Prog night!

A few weekends ago on the 28th, I went to see Anathema in Southampton. The venue was a small (roughly 200 or so capacity) one called The Talking Heads.
I had been invited by my friend to come along with him & his parents. While I knew the band and had listened to a fair bit of their material (on his recommendation), this wasn’t a gig I’d usually think of going to myself. 

A three piece Austrian band called Mother’s Cake opened, who we only found out about a few days before the gig, when my friend saw pictures from previous tour dates. I can’t really define them in terms of genres, as they had a lot of different styles in their music, ranging from funk to prog & hard rock.

I couldn't find much of their music on the internet, so me & my friend were rather uncertain how good they would be. They honestly blew us away though, mixing funky vibes with ambient guitar and some Rage Against the Machine style rock.

Next up was Anathema they opened up fairly calmly with two songs off their latest album, before launching straight into two of their critically acclaimed songs, Untouchable, Part 1 & 2. As expected the crowd went wild. The rest of their set consisted mostly of their later, softer material, but they still played a few songs from the early 00’s, such as Closer & A Natural Disaster.
Near the end of their set, a man in the audience passed out from the heat as the room was so packed and hot. Vincent, the band’s main vocalist & second guitarist, immediately jumped off stage & helped the man out of the venue, which really was one of the those ‘the small things make all the difference’ moments.
Some of the best things their performance was the power of Lee & Vincents voices, especially with some of the beautiful harmonies they did. The strong voices added a lot more power to the overall sound.
The intimate venue also made it feel that much more special, as you connected directly with the band in a sense.
Sonically, the whole gig itself was great, as it was definitely loud (I had foolishly forgotten to bring my earplugs!), but there were no sounds that pierced your ears too much, as things such as vocals often do at gigs. There was also not a ridiculously overbearing amount of cymbal sound muddying the mix, as it often is with small venues.
I must say the audio engineers & stage technicians did a great job, as Vincent noted at the end of Anathema’s set.

At the end of the gig, I had a brief chat with Mother’s Cake and would have brought one of their CDs but didn’t have enough money with me at the time; however I did see small promotional posters for a gig I will be going to soon! I was quite happy with this, as it’s another poster to adorn my bedroom wall with. 

Anathema setlist:
1. The Lost Song, Part 1
2. The Lost Song, Part 2
3. Untouchable, Part 1
4. Untouchable, Part 2
5. Thin Air
6. Ariel
7. The Lost Song, Part 3
8. Anathema
9. The Beginning and the End
10. Universal
11. Closer

Encore:
12. Distant Satellites
13. A Natural Disaster
14. Take Shelter
15. Fragile Dreams

Next up on my gig list, is Opeth, on the 10th of October! I'm looking forward to this very much, as they are on my 'see before I die' gig list.

Friday, 19 September 2014

2nd Week back

Today marks the end of my second week back at college. It's odd experience, some things changed but mostly the it's same place as it was a few months back.

One of the biggest noticeable changes is the first year students. Compared to last year, this years first years seem to be much younger & more immature. Then again, that may just be a natural way on looking at generations younger than you. It isn't much of concern though, as everyone does, they'll most likely grow more mature (or drop out) next year.

The college itself hasn't changed too much, the smoking area has been moved closer to the college, most likely to be able to monitor it and check if people are smoking weed (a pretty pointless idea, instead we just go up the road to the railway bridge to get high..)
My old hangout spot, the upstairs cafe has been altered very weirdly, they have scattered plant pots around the corners and put beanbags down there. While it doesn't subtract from the room, it doesn't add anything..it just looks weird now, which I support suits the place.

Personally, It's been a little strange. Seeing as the group of friends I had last year were 2nd years, they have now left, mostly for university, and I am stuck here with much less friends & people I knew.

Making new friends isn't an especially easy thing for me, but that's not at all to say its a bad thing. The fact I have to focus more on making efforts socially is a good challenge and will definitely be useful for when I go to university myself.

That's very much the story of this year; 'it'll be hard, but hopefully rewarding'. This is especially true with the education side of college, as I have a fair few long bits of coursework to do, some a bit more complicated than they need be, but as mentioned about: rewarding. As well as coursework,there will be exams to do at the end of the year, and on top of that, I hope to get a couple of songs written & recorded with my band, in time for next summer time, when we can hopefully open for some of my friends bands at some of their gigs.

I may be a little over ambitious, but if I work hard enough (that's the real question here!) I should manage it.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

R.I.P.

Three weeks ago on the 22nd I had to bury my cat. She was 10 or older..the age where its been so long that you can't quite remember their age.
The previous Friday, she went out during a thunderstorm, and despite us calling her in, decided to stay out for the night. She never turned up in the morning. When I came home from visiting a friend in Bristol on Monday night, we found her outside the back door wanting to come in. She limped in through the door, and soon it was evident something wasn't right. We took her through to the kitchen and gave her a pot of milk and noticed she was bleeding. We assume a fox attacked her, but she got away.
When we arrived at the vets he checked her out and gave a diagnosis. She had fly strike, which is when flies attack a wound and lay their eggs in it. As the weather at the time was something like 30 degrees at the time, the eggs had hatched quickly, and to be blunt, she had maggots wriggling around in her ass. The vet said it was too late for anything reasonable to be done.

Watching her being put down was hard, but I just broke when my dad said something along the lines of "it'll be me next in another 10 or 20 more years". At the time, my mum was working, so as anyone would be, she was sad that she was not there at the time she died.

Dealing it wasn't easy, straight after supper on the night I went to look for her to play with her, and for about a week after I kept looking out of the windows at night, expecting her to be waiting to be let in.

To me, she was the closest thing I've ever had to a sister, and will be impossible to replace, whether it's personal attachment or not i'm not sure, however i've never found a cat that is more friendly, sociable, and relaxed than her.





R.I.P. Kitty, you will be missed.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Last minute decision

It's been far too long since I wrote in this blog, however the summer holidays are coming soon so I should start writing more often (I know, i've said that bullshit promise so many times here).

A while ago on the 12th of may, I went to a gig, partially on a whim, and partially because I changed my money about saving money.
I brought the tickets the weekend before for £12.50, which for that line-up was a pretty amazing price. Born of Osiris were headlining at the Joiners in Southampton, with After the Burial, Betraying the Martyrs and Buried in Verona as support acts.

I only knew half of the bands playing, I saw Buried in Verona last year, and I had listened to Born of Osiris on and off for the last couple of years, but they had never particularly been on my 'I have to see these bands live before I die' list. Turns out they definitely should have been on that list.

Buried in Verona opened, and like  they did not disappoint, just as they did this week. I'm not a fan of their latest album, as I just find the songwriting boring compared to their previous records. Hearing the standout songs from that album live didn't change my opinion of the songs, but I certainly enjoyed it more than I did when listening to it on album. For me their set really kicked off at the last two songs when they played some older songs.

Betraying the Martyrs played second. I had given their music a good listen prior to the gig and they played a great set. As usual with a metal gig, the pit really got moving during the second band's set. I would say they were the heaviest of the support acts, followed by Buried in Verona.

After the Burial were up next. They were fairly similar to Betraying the Martyrs, except they were a little more technical. Also to note was one of their tunings, which involved a C# 0, which is a note you'd usually find on the bottom string of a bass guitar. Add this note and a heavily distorted guitar tone together..you can imagine the results. At points where they hit that open string, I could feel the floor  literally moving like waves beneath my feet.

Last up were Born of Osiris. They opened as I expected, with 'Machine'. Their set
was surprisingly good. I was expecting them to put on a stellar performance, and they did, but I was thinking that they would be let down by a bad sound due to bad acoustics and an inferior sound engineer. They fared much better than I expected, lots of clarity for a band in that genre.
The set as a whole was really tight, despite their singer, Ronnie stumbling into the drum kit, temporarily putting the music on hold.
They only had one guitarist on stage due to their other guitarist, Jason, leaving a band a few months previous, so they used pre-recorded guitars for a lot of their rhythm, leaving Lee to play the lead guitar and solos. He absolutely nailed the solos, even on 'Follow the Signs!'

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Album review: Thousands of Evils - Vildhjarta

This album is was released in 2013, but I had to do an album review for college, so I decided on this EP, as I only discovered it a few months back and keep re-listening to it.

The 24 minute EP starts with an eerie orchestral vocal piece, at the start of the first track, before launching into the epic, chaotic yet calculated song that the buildup makes you expectant of.

Thousands of Evils is Vildhjarta's second EP, following on from their first studio album, Måsstaden, in my mind, the best work they have produced to date. It is very different to Måsstaden in many ways. Judging by comments on YouTube, many seemed to dislike the mixing of the EP. I understand why they say this however I feel they’ve discovered a new sound, which sets it aside from their previous work.

The first track, “Introduction: Staos” starts off with an eerie, mysterious sounding ambient section before launching into a frenzied attack of hard hitting drums and palm muted guitars.

Längstmedån, the second track begins with their signature clean delayed guitar, before adding in a fast paced, distorted lead guitar. In the background, the clean guitar continues, giving the track an interesting ambience.

Our ears are given a short rest on the third track, Dimman as it is a mostly acoustic interlude, aside from the slightly tamed chugging towards the end of it. I like the way the clean guitars and bass mix in, as for once the bass can be heard as a separate instrument, rather than part of a mix.

The other track that is completely different to the other songs is Intermezzo, an ambient piano piece that lasts nearly two minutes. Throughout, a single drone note is constantly repeated, yet somehow, the track is not boring!

Many of the other tracks are of the same vain as Längstmedån, except there aren’t any intros to speak of.
My standout track is the last, Mist förståndet. It is the most diverse track, as it has plenty of tempo changes, and surpringly, clean vocals for the first time in the history of the band.

Over all, I would rate this EP a solid 8/10. It sounds fairly samey at times however they have somehow found themselves a fairly new sound since their last album.

Listen to the album here!:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB40Fazwr2I

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Amp conversion!

I got a Peavey 6505+ 112 (a high gain amp, generally the go to amp for metal or similar styles of music) for my 18th birthday last October, and have slowly been upgrading and adding to my rig, with pedals and speaker cabinets, however the one thing I was desperately missing, was ease of portability. Sure I had a nice amp, but there was no chance in hell I would be taking it anywhere without owning a car (or pestering my parents for a lift which I don't particularly wish to do).

I found a thread on the Ultimate Guitar forums, which inspired me to do as they had: Convert my amp into a head and cabinet!

I took the basic design of what he had done, and made whatever changes I had to, as I brought different materials to him.
The over all build cost was £100, which is pretty cheap, considering that I managed to fit in a new speaker, all the tolex needed (only just) and smaller necessary items (e.g. feet, handle etc.)
Surprisingly, the tolex was surprisingly expensive, costing about £30 pounds in total, for only just enough material, so I had about 10cm spare.

The parts I brought were as follows:
1x Emminence V128 speaker (12” 8ohms)
8x cutaway corners  (for cabinet)
4x 38x15mm rubber feet (for head)
2x 10x27mm handle (for cabinet)
1x 1.35x1m white Tolex strip
1x 0.4x1m white Tolex strip
25cm blue LED strip (100mA, 12V)

It took me quite a while to do this, mostly because I was busy with college in the week, and often either being lazy at weekends, or having other things to do like coursework and helping my parents. This made it a fairly on/off project, and it took around 1 month and a bit to complete.
I finished the head first, as I wanted to be able to use the amp at college (when it was a combo, it was impossible to bring back and forth on the bus).

I started off by taking off the front and back panels, then removing the amp from its chassis. Once I had taken the handle and corners off, I started to peel the Tolex off the amp. This wasn’t a hard job, but at times the material really wanted to stick to the wood.



The next job after this was to cut wooden chassis in half, separating what would become the head and cabinet. For some of the precision woodwork such as this, I recruited the help of my dad; not because I could not do it myself, but because as he has done a lot of woodwork in his life, he would do a better job and get a straighter cut than I ever could. There was a little bit of an issue with making the cut, as I could not get the speaker grill off, due to not being able to remove the back panel. This meant when my dad was cutting the top of the amp, he had to be careful to miss the wooden frame of the grill, which was sticking up slightly.






After this I set to work on the head, first starting with wiring the LED strip up. I wired it up to the power supply that had previously lit the LEDs that lit up on the faceplate. The issue this caused was it was rated at 15V, whereas my LED strip was rated at 12V. To keep the power low, I used a resistor between the power supply and the LED strip. I had a few problems with the resistor values, as when I first wired in a 39 ohm, and later on, a 68 ohm resistor, I smelt burning as soon as I turned the amp on, and traced the smell to the resistors. In the end, I settled to use a 470 ohm resistor, which works perfectly, and gives the amp a nice compromise between being too bright, stealing an audience’s attention, and being bright enough to be easily noticeable.
Once I had finished the soldering the LEDs to the power cables, I stuck the LED strip down in between the reverb tank and the preamp tubes.
I also quickly gave the reverb tank a few coats of black spray paint, to make it stand out less.

the 39 ohm resistor
testing the LEDs
testing the LEDs (with a 68 ohm resistor) in the cabinet


The next job the head required as fitting a new bottom panel to it. I picked out a section of plywood marked up the dimensions I would need, and got my dad to cut it out, for aforementioned reasons. I glued and screwed this bit of wood to the bottom of the head, clamped them together and waited for it to dry. 
The next task was to put the Tolex on to the cabinet. This was a hard job, which was not helped by the fact that I had barely enough to finish the job. Because of this, I was forced to use two sections of Tolex and join them up. The line between the two sections is fairly obvious, but it could have gone much worse. Once the cabinet was covered in Tolex, I checked that the corners and handle still fitted and drilled holes for the feet.  I found there was a slight problem with the bottom corners, as I had used a thicker piece of wood to cover the bottom. The bits that went inside the cabinet would not fit because of this, so I had to cut out a small groove at the bottom to accommodate for this. Other than that, it all went in smoothly, so I finished the head off by putting the amp and panels back in. I changed the design here slightly, as I put the screws that held the front panel in place, so that they were accessible from the front, so that I could change the preamp tubes easier. 


the grooves made for the corners






The speaker cabinet was next on the list of things to do. 
First I had to work out how I would get the back panel off, as it was stuck in very tightly. I tried putting screws, using them to pull it out in but in the end, it seemed as if there was no choice, but to cut into the top of the cabinet section of the amp, so I could push the panel out and thereby be able to access the screws holding the grill in.
As I needed to put another layer of wood to complete the cabinet, it was okay to do this. I simply cut a wide circle in the top of the cabinet, and reached my hand inside to push the back panel out. While I was doing this, I also cut a smaller hole, which I used to get the speaker cable out. 
Once everything was taken out, and I was left with an empty shell, I glued the circles of wood back in place and filled them.
When this was finished, I got the piece of wood  that was to go on the top, and put the handle screwthreads underneath it. 









Then, I glued the tolex down and waited for it to dry.
I then attached the handle, corners, and new speaker. Instead of having a jack to plug a speaker cable into, I decided to keep plugging the amp in the same way for convince, cutting out a small segment out at the top of back panel to feed the wire through. It was meant to feed in and out, so the cable didn’t stick out when it was being transported, however the cable seems to be stuck outside.
The other issue I found with this was the handle. I measured the holes wrong, so the handle is permanently sticking upward slightly. This caused an issue with mounting the head on top of it, as the feet are not tall enough, so it wobbled slightly. To sort this, I swapped the feet on the head from my other amp, which had taller feet.





The V12 speaker is similar to V30s, which I have in my 2x12 cabinet, however the V12 sounds smoother, and it is also has a darker voicing. At first, I found it hard to like, but I soon enough warmed to it. The one thing that I noticed off the bat, was the cleans; 6505s aren’t well known for their cleans (not saying that you can’t get a half decent clean out of them) but I found a much sweeter clean tone using the V12, as the V30s are a little too harsh for cleans (on this amp at least).

Here is the final product!











Old rig (minus bass guitar) :



New rig (minus 2x12 cab at which is currently at college) :

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Lamb of God

It's been longer than a month since i've posted a blog (well even longer, as I started the previous post about three weeks before I managed to finish it..), as i've been fairly busy of late, getting back into the swing of the college routine after the Christmas holidays. Also a few weeks ago I began work on converting one of my amps, but I will post about that in a few weeks, once I am finished with it.

This post will be about a gig I went to recently. This piece of writing is also what I am doing for my second bit of coursework for creative writing, so it is nice to be able get this blog post out of the way, whilst also getting college work done.

Lamb of God - Southampton Guildhall, UK - 12.01.2014




At 7 o’clock, the gates outside the guildhall the queues were already backed up massively. Instead of joining this queue, I instead went into the priority queue with my friend, who could get in quicker using the fact that his phone is on the O2 network.
After depositing our bags in the cloakroom, filled with coats, keys and other items, we headed up towards the stage.

By this point in time, the floorspace was beginning to become fairly packed, people getting as close as they could to the barrier.

Huntress kicked off the show at 7:45, quite literally. Their singer had a stage presence similar to female-fronted power metal bands, which in terms of the general lineup, did not especially fit. However considering their music seemed very influenced by speed metal, you would expect this of them.

I did not find them an especially pleasing act to see live, the main problem being that the tone of their music did not match their vocalist well at all and that their stage presence, made mostly by their lead guitarist and singer, seemed rather gimmicky, despite how common it is in their genre. 

However my main dislike about them, aside from the mismatched singer, was more general. I just found them boring. The rest of the crowd didn't seem to have much of a reaction either, just a few nodding heads near the front. 

Decapitated, a technical death metal band from Poland were next. When the audio engineers and roadies were setting up the stage, they took a quick break from soundchecking, and played a short section of Pantera's 'walk', with guitar, drums and bass. The crowd seemed to love this, not just because it is a classic groove metal song but perhaps because it was so unexpected.

Their set began with the title song of their latest studio album, Carnival is Forever. They walked on stage to the acoustic intro, which they did a couple more other times when they changed instruments.
A lot of their set consisted of songs from their latest album, however they threw a fair few old songs in the mix. They mostly did not announce the names of the upcoming songs, so some people who did know them may have been a little lost. But the crowd seemed to liven up a lot during their set; Spheres of Madness was one of the songs that really got people moving, which I would say is my favorite song that they played. This is because of it's speedy tempo and insanely fast kick drum, mixed with a mostly lead style guitar.

After the concert I managed to have a chat with Rafal Piotrowsk, their vocalist. His look was great – he had long dreadlocks that reached down to the bottom of his spine, which looked brilliant when headbanging, flying around as if each lock was a chain with a morningstar on it. He seemed, too, like a chilled character; one of the notable things he said was his joke about how he feels at home here in the UK, with our large Polish population. He also offered to go to the pub with us for a while, if we could find any open, but there were few still open, and it was quite late so we had start heading home.

Lamb of God opened with the song Desolation from their latest album, Resolution. After they finished that song, Randy, their vocalist chatted to the audience for a bit, telling us that Paul Waggoner from Between the Buried and Me was taking Mark Morton’s place during this tour as Mark was with his family for personal reasons. He also mentioned how many years ago, when the band were still relatively new, the first country that they toured outside the America was the UK. 

Randy had a great stage presence, hyping the crowd up and telling them to go wild, while still mentioning looking out for others in the pit. This is because of the manslaughter trial he faced in Czech Slovakia last year, where he was convicted of pushing a fan off the stage, who subsequently fell and died a few days later in hospital. He was found not guilty, and I saw, from his blogging about the trial, and what he said on stage, it really made him think more seriously about fans keeping safe at gigs.
During his speech, he asked the crowd “how many of you have seen us before”, to which it seemed at least half of the crowd seemed to cry out, indicating yes, which is an impressive number to my mind. 

A lot of their set consisted of old material from past albums, mostly Wrath, Sacrament, Ashes of the Wake and As Palaces Burn. I knew all the songs they played, however I was a little fuzzy on songs from Resolution, as I only bought the album a few weeks before the gig, whereas I’ve had the other albums for about three years or more. 

The song they finished with was ‘Black Label’, a well-known song off their first album American Gospel. It is a classic song, mostly associated with the moshing act titled ‘the wall of death’, where the crowd will fall back to the edge of the pit, and the crowd will back up as much as possible, leaving a large gap between the other sides of the crowd.

Often, they form during gaps in a song, where the tempo will drop very low, and then the crowd will rush forward into the circle again when the tempo is increased again, making into a mosh pit again.
Sadly, during this song, Randy did not call out for one, much to my disappointment, but maybe it was a good thing, as by this time I was utterly shattered. It showed in the crowd as well, as from what I saw, as the pit was thinned out a fair bit in comparison to the start of their set.

My favorite song that they played was Omerta, because of the various tempo changes in it. I loved the sustained power chords in the chorus which increased adrenaline a lot and gave a good transition between the Second and third verse. It is also one of the most recognizable songs, without needing to be announced, as it has a spoken intro.

There was a lot of merchandise in stock, mostly for Decapitated and Lamb of God. At most gigs, I have a policy of trying to get an item of merchandise from at least one of the bands that played, be it at the gig, or buying it online at some other point. I considered buying a T-shirt, adding to my growing band T-shirt collection, but instead found a signed Decapitated poster that I thought would make a decent addition to my poster collection. I also already have a Lamb of God Hoodie, so in a sense I had fulfilled that requirement without needing to buy anything.


Huntress setlist:
Senicide/Destroy Your Life/Spell Eater/I Want To Fuck You To Death/Eight of Swords

Decapitated setlist:
404/Day 69/A View From a Hole/Carnival is Forever/Spheres of Madness
Pest

Lamb of god setlist:
Desolation/Ghost Walking/Walk with Me in Hell/Hourglass/Set to Fail/Now You’ve Got Something to Die For/The Undertow/Omerta/Ruin/In Your Words/Vigil/Laid to Rest/Redneck
Encore:

Black Label

Friday, 3 January 2014

New house!

About three weeks ago, we moved house.

The new house is a farmhouse in Breamore, half way between Salisbury and Ringwood. 
There is a long story behind the move, which I will now tell.

About 5 years, our family was attempting to sell the house. It was owned by my grandmother, who had moved out. The plan was to sell it, and divide the profits between the various family members, however it seemed very tricky, due to the price we were looking to sell for and the downturn in the housing market. After about two years of attempted sale and price dropping, my parents decided to take it on themselves. They payed each family member that would have received money from the sale and began to plan what they would do. With the house came a lot of land, which previously wasn't being used by the owners, and was let out to a friend of the family, who raises cattle. We don't have any plans for the land either, and continue to let it out to that friend of the family, and to another that has hunts occasionally.

Here is a picture from a hill that roughly shows the house and the surrounding land.


Here are some pictures of the old house:













During the first year, we drew plans up as to what we would do to the house, consulting an architect and looking into planning permission. In the end, we decided not to ask the council for planning permission (as in this area they are notoriously strict with what changes you can make. The fact that it is a listed building did not help either!) and do what we could within the boundaries there were. In hindsight, I feel we've done pretty well considering that!

So after a year or so of planning, we began work! The first task was to demolish the entirety of the insides of the house. Sounds crazy....looked it too..but it worked out!
It was rather an old house, built in the 20s (I think?) and all the rooms were quite small. It was a fairly big house divided up into many small rooms, which was totally the opposite of what we wanted. It wasn't in the best of conditions either so we decided to scrap the insides totally.

Here are a few photos of what it looked like when we had the house mostly demolished:












As you can see we then started on rebuilding the second floor by putting massive steel girders in place. From here we started to build the foundations for the extension and build the second floor.














Before I go on to describe the inside of the new house, I will show some pictures comparing the outside of the new & old house.








The house is not entirely finished yet, there is still a fair few things we have to sort out yet, but despite that, it's very homely. The main yet to be done are as follows. The library has yet to completed. Currently, we have put new windows in and the floor is concreted, but that's as far as finished goes. Throughout the build process, we used it as a wood room, where we could cut up planks. It still remains in that state, with sawdust all over the floor (not the best for keeping the house clean!). There are two guest rooms that we have yet to do, both are pretty incomplete. The downstairs one has yet to be painted, and when it comes to that, we will need to take all the boxes out of there, as we are using it as a storage room for the moment. The upstairs one needs carpet in it. These are the main issues we have to sort inside the house. However when you look outside, another issue presents itself clearly: the garden. It looks totally different to how neat and tidy the grass looked in some of the earlier photos of the house. Here's what it looks like now from my window.


That's about all the things we need to sort, other than a few minor issues like finishing my sleeping platform off in my room and a few other things like that.

The 'library'

The 'guest room'

Despite the fact that this blog is already choc a block full of photos, I feel I should add a couple of the finished insides of the house


The hall
The entrance
The lounge

The kitchen

The kitchen/lounge

Now I come to describing my finished room. I have to say, I have a fucking huge room. I've also managed to fit all my things in, guitars, amps, computer, clothes and all! It's the first time i've ever had all my things in my own room, as before most of the above were in the lounge at the previous house (except the clothes obviously). I must say, i'm liking it so far!
To top having a spacious room, containing all my gear..I have an en suite bathroom, with a toilet and bath.
I haven't mentioned my bed yet, because this will be in the floor above my room. However floor isn't finished yet so I am sleeping on the guest bed on the ground floor of my bedroom for the moment, and most likely for quite a while.
My walls are also pretty decent. I've put all my poster up on the protruding wall where the fireplace was, and it's a nice place to put up all my posters, pictures, gig tickets and other similar collections.
One of the largest changes is that I am actually keeping my room fairly tidy, which is a surprise to me. I suppose that I like the space and feel I should retain it's neatness.

Now, for the obligatory pictures of my room!

The entrance to my room

My bathroom


My gear


Posters etc.
To finish this blog post off, I felt it'd be nice to put in one or two pictures of the house in the snow, while it was under construction.