Kiuas Studio Diary 2007 - Sonic Pump Studios

  • First Day
  • Recording Drums Part I
  • Recording Drums Part II
  • Recording Guitars Part I
  • Recording Bass Part I
  • Recording Bass Part II
  • Recording Vocals Part I
  • Rest of the Sessions
    1.10.2007 :: First Day [Markku]

    The historic recording sessions of the third epic Kiuas album will soon begin. For the last few months we have been practicing and polishing the new materieal intensely and Mikko has been working like Conan in his home studio. All the songs have been demo-recorded, processed and refined. This time we worked on the songs with the aid of Janne Joutsenniemi (known as the driving force of bands Stone, Sub-Urban Tribe and lately producing bands such as Ensiferum, Entwine, Stam1na and Godsplague) and Nino Laurenne during the preproduction phase. The whole songwriting process has been going on for the past year, and now finally the songs are perfect. If all goes as planned, we will record 11 killer songs. Today Markku set up his drums and filled the refridgerator with ale. Tomorrow he will start pounding his drums like the hammer of Thor! Stay tuned!

    Sonic Pump Studios
    Finnvox Studios

    By the way if you have any questions or want to comment anything about the studio sessions feel free to write on our FORUM.

    Markku is setting up the drums.
    2.10. - 4.10.2007 :: Recording Drums Part I [Markku]


    Yesterday I brought my kit to the studio and I changed all the skins to the drums. I was kindly assisted by Junior (of Bleak, Happiness, Mannhai…) in setting up and tuning the drums for the Sonic Pump studios massive, gigantic drum cathedral. Tuesday morning Nino and his personal sex slave Ossi set up the mics (19 of them!!) and I started banging the bongos. After six hours of insanely frustrating pounding we found the perfect sound for the forthcoming album. I had three different snares (Pearl Reference 14"x6,5", Ahead bronze snare 14"x5,5" and seventies Ludwig steel snare). And to our great surprise the Ludwig beat them all. This time I used Remo Emperor top skins and Evans Resonance skins for the bottom ones on the toms. These gave me a clear and high-pitched sound with a fat body. Sweet!

    I had click tracks for all the songs with guitars, synths and demo vocals with me to help me get in the mood for recording. The first song that I started to record was called "Intia". It’s a heavy, mid-tempo song that has an oriental twist in it that reminds me a bit of one of my favourite bands Amorphis. The second song for Tuesday was called "the New Dark Age". Some blasting and notorious tom-fills and lots of double bass. The song is one of my favourite songs of the new album. On Wednesday I recorded three songs: "Crab Snow", "Summoning" and "Wanderer". Everything went smoothly and I had no trouble at all. Atte was recording in the evening.

    Today we started a little earlier and started to work on a song called "Pantera". Right now we are having a break enjoying the benefits of catering. In the evening there’s some kind a fuckin’ weird festival for the sexually deviant Guitar heroes and Sony BMG. Let’s hope that Nino is up and running tomorrow morning… To be continued.

    Setting up the drums in the cathedral of Crom.

    Junior is tuning the skins. Markku´s drums are Tama Starclassic Maple set.

    Three different possible snares. Ludwig won!

    Markku´s heavy set. Before setting up the mics.

    More drum porn. Enjoy!

    Studio lord Nino setting up the mics (Shure B56) for toms.

    Finding the perfect mic positions. Ossi on the left side.

    All the mics in their places. Ready for the sound check.

    Sonic Pump's lobby. Nino's dad is in the studio to make sure that the boys behave (not very successfully). Mikko is polishing his nails.

    Metal meeting. Constructing the time tables. A lot of work ahead.

    Ilja is listening to last minute changes in the songs. Mikko is very happy.

    Nino and THE SSL desk in the Control 1 room.

    5.10. - 6.10.2007 :: Recording Drums Part II [Markku]

    "Pantera" was finished before the festivities commenced. I decided to go home to get some well deserved sleep. We started the sessions on Friday at 12.00 o'clock. I found Mikko sleeping on the couch after partying with the other Guitar Heroes and managed to wake him up with the help of the evil record label man (Hannu from Spinefarm). Hannu came to oversee our progress and in return Mikko gave him a nice breath of rock n’ roll. Hannu was very satisfied. After warming up I started to record piece called “Scripture” a.k.a. “entistä vihaisempi perkele” a.k.a. “hiukan vittuuntunut saatana”. The tempo is 210 bpm and this song maybe be the opening track of the album, but as they say in Savo: “…suattaapi olla olematta”. Ok.

    In the evening it was time to get into triplet-mood (and cosmic-hörhö-70’s prog-mood). The song is called “Sanctum” and it’s sort of a crossover between ELP and Manowar. I think I managed to catch the spirit of the song quite well.

    Today was the last day of my performance and there were two dynamite tracks to go. Both songs are pretty fast (“JPN” and “Kiuas’ War Anthem”) and were nailed after a hard work and hours of beating. I was quite exhausted but finally we had all the drums on tape. The week is nice to end with a sauna session. Next in line is Mikko who begins on Monday. See ya.

    Markku is ready to pound his drums like...

    Nino Laurenne and Markku Näreneva.

    And more drum porn...

    And more...

    Nino and his "assistant" Ossi.

    Nino and our A&R Hannu Lehtonen from Spinefarm are discussing the budget.

    The EVIL record label man is judging Markku's drum performance.

    Machinery for studio diary.

    Some refreshments to guarantee flawless drum playing.

    Mikko is supervising the recording process. Crom that sounds good!

    Nino is a hospitable man (and scary).

    Nino, Hannu and Mikko. Laying down the plans for world domination.

    The mighty SSL desk. The best mixing console in the business.

    Kiuas is hot!

    8.10. - 12.10.2007 :: Recording Guitars Part I [Mikko]

    I came to the studio early at 6 o'clock like a good metal warrior, after a refreshing jog, a gym session and a two hour-warmup playing my dreams! In reality, I arrived at the studio at about 10 and still started changing strings like a true amateur since I had made some miscalculations. After my gear was up and running, we started looking for the perfect guitar sound with Nino. I had a simple strategy: A Mesa dual rectifier head and an ENGL Fireball head both into a Mesa cabinet, doubled on both sides, so I would play 4 rhythm guitar parts to make the sound big enough. For the faster and more technical songs this would mean a bit of blood, sweat and tears (not the band) to make them sound tight, but like they say no pain, no gain. And speaking about gain, (listen up kids!) the less gain you have, the heavier the sound, the harder it is to play...this applies most of the time. Yes, I know, nothing new for any even half-professional metal guitarist, but just so you know, we kept the gain VERY low. Master Laurenne's rule of thumb goes: "Keep the gain where you can just barely pinch a harmonic". Of course, as we metalheads know, pinchmaster Wylde pinches comfortably even with a clean tone, so this is not a reliable indicator for a skilled musician.

    We used a Shure SM-57 in combination with an SM-7 while recording the 1st and 2nd guitars through the Mesa rectifier, and a Shure SM-58 while recording the 3rd and 4th guitars through the ENGL Fireball head. We spent quite a lot of time to find perfect positions for the mics, but it was worth it.

    The week has been a total riff fest for me, and once I got into the groove, playing through the new songs has been a lot of fun. I'll describe them individually later. Check out some of the video clips (coming a bit later...)!

    Mikko and the heads: Mesa Dual Rectifier and Engl Fireball. Dean axes ready for action.

    Mikko "Crom" Salovaara - kiltein hevimuusikko maailmassa.

    Mesa Dual Rectifier

    Mic setup

    Some serious action. Holy Crom!

    12.10. - 14.10.2007 :: Recording Bass Part I [Zombie]

    Dear Diary,

    All hell broke loose as I started to wreck havoc on the Bass tracks. Heaven had split apart and the typically shitty autumn weather colored the early morning bleak as the coffee in Sonic Pumps studio. Nevertheless I did not consider changing my residence to the sunny California. I ended up using Thunderstones bassists gear like I did on the last album, because as they say across the big puddle: why fix it if it ain’t broken? I recorded two tracks simultaneously, one straight to the board and one through a bass amp with a Boss Bass Overdrive distortion pedal. And boy, does it sound good. I’d sell my dead grandmother if I wouldn’t have already sold her to achieve that sound. Luckily I don’t have to. I recorded three songs in Friday even though I had some trouble getting started. Every one has their excuses and so do I but I really don’t know why the start was that difficult… Maybe it was the astral forces trying their best to interfere the making of possibly the best album since the first cavemen invented music by banging rocks together…

    Anyway I recorded three songs during Friday, two songs on the morning/afternoon with Nino (“Wanderer” & “Crabsnow”) and one song on the evening with Atte (“Intia”). The first one has some weird seventies-ish bass lines in it, so it was quite fun to start with it. The other is a lot more heavier song with thrashy riffs and melodic choruses. This song is possibly one of my favorite tracks on the coming album, I hope the final result is as good as the demo versions that we have rehearsed. The third song made me cry like a little girl and bang my head not to a wall rather than through the wall! It was hard but the result was worth the pain. Intia or India has some really exotic bass lines that I had a lot of trouble getting nailed tight.

    On Saturday I managed to record one song, “Pantera” completely and one almost entirely (“Summoning”) as the day was only a short one because the studio was reserved for the evening to other purposes. “Pantera” is a song that has some really low-key thrash riffs that are painful to play with bass. Why, oh why, did I start to play instead of going to law school and getting a respected profession? Oh yeah, I fuckin’ hate anything concerning law and “justice”. Tough luck...

    On Sunday Atte and yours truly started the day early and finished “Summoning”. We made a slight error as we didn’t have the amplified bass tracks distortion pedal on but luckily the whole track can be recorded separately through the blasted thing so no harm done…I hope. Then we recorded two songs, “New Dark Age” and “JPN” until Mikko replaced Atte as the recorder and we made the 8th song called Kiuas War Anthem. Sunday went fast and furiously and when I finally got home, I was totally exhausted. It was a tight and stressful weekend but now I only have two songs to go and then I can get wasted with a wide grin…

    I will probably record the last two remaining songs on Wednesday 17, but we shall wait and see… I’ll get back to you.

    “We got the biggest amps, and man they blast!”

    Some things require precision that ordinary people can never comprehend.

    Bass to the right, guitar cab on the left.

    17.10.2007 :: Recording Bass Part II [Zombie]

    Last but not the least remaining bass tracks are finished! At last my work is done! We recorded a song called “Scripture“ AKA “Helvetin vihainen saatana” in the morning with Nino and “Sanctum” in the afternoon when Mikko burst into the studio and told that everything has to be recorded again because he had a vision and all the previously recorded tracks are now absolutely wrong…no wait, that was only the nightmare I had the last night. All the bass tracks are now done, Mikko will do rest of the guitars and then it’s all up to the other guys of KLAUS (or Kiaus, etc. they never seem to get it right abroad) to do their task.

    Bass head. H&K.

    Bass Overdrive. Quite common because it fuckin’ rules! Easy as hell to use and sounds great!

    Laying down the infectious bass grooves.

    Check out the satanic-evil-blasphemous-warmongering-yet slightly gay-bass playing position! Atte is recording with a plain and mystical expression on his face.

    15.10. & 18.10. & 19.10.2007 :: Recording Vocals Part I [Ilja]


    It was Monday the 15th when I started to sing. I sang and I sang. It was glorious. And painful. I tasted blood in my mouth. IT WAS GOOD. Being the consummate professional that I am, I was able to record AN ENTIRE SONG in just under FOUR HOURS. Man, I bet NOBODY can pull that shit off.


    Because I’m not just a consummate professional but a bonafide rock star as well, I arrived a couple of hours late on Thursday the 18th. Naturally, everybody was pleased. It seems my humble persona was missed. Mikko’s face lit up like a christmas tree (I don’t believe in Jesus OR Santa Claus) when he announced his disrespect for me and my family. We fought. Then we made passionate love. The song turned out OK. I growled and grunted.


    Friday the 19th crept up on my shattered voice. Despite this obvious obstacle I managed to record a very nice song. It had very nice lyrics. I wrote them. Which was nice.

    Ilja Jalkanen

    20.10. - 1.11.2007 :: Recording Vocals, Guitars, Solos, Acoustic Guitars, Choirs, Keyboards and Oud [Mikko]


    It's been busy as hell, hence the delay in our diary update! Not only have I been working on this album, I've also had to practice the tough licks and riffs for the Guitar Heroes record release party. (At Helsinki's Tavastia club on 6.11., album in stores on 7.11. in Finland!) So there's been a lot of shredding going on!

    To sum up the last two weeks, basically when the rhythm guitars were mostly done, we started recording the vocals, while I worked on my solos, practicing them, and then finally recording them during the last weekend. I'm quite pleased with how they turned out, especially since I hadn't worked on them much in advance. Expect some surprises, there are definately some new ideas and approaches I have been working on in my playing during the last year or so. For example, there will be some clearly more fusion-influenced playing - which I also tried to underline with a less distorted sound - some wild and fun chromatic stuff, and as for the more technical stuff...well, a couple of spots where I pushed myself to break my personal speed record, hahaha!!! Remember, Speed = Emotion (and Fat = Motion).

    Mikko Salovaara

    Since the choirs on the last album worked so well, we once again enjoyed having some of the best singers in Finland's hard rock/metal community to sing some majestic choir parts on the album. We had several choices at first, but ended up with the following: Pekka Heino (Leverage, Brother Firetribe), Pasi Rantanen (ex-Thunderstone), and Aleksi Parviainen (Soulcage, Malpractice, Reversion). The choir session was one of the most memorable and impressive moments during the process.

    Choir of Crom. Heads Up!

    Pasi Rantanen, Aleksi Parviainen, Pekka Heino and Ilja Jalkanen.

    Mikko and Markku enjoying the choir sessions.

    Also, I recorded some nice acoustic stuff on two songs, "The Wanderer's Lamentation" and a totally acoustic song we just call "Crom" for the moment. "Crom" is actually a very folk/pop-sounding song which will feature only an acoustic guitar, and the voices of Ilja and a very special guest: his sister Anna-Maija, who is also extremely talented and a pro level singer (some genes in that family!). "The Wanderer's Lamentation" on the other hand is a huge epic song with massive choirs and layers of acoustic guitars. In the end of the song I improvised a little celtic sounding jam, paying a little tribute to that style of music, or perhaps (once again) the great Jethro Tull.

    Anna-Maija is Ilja's sister. Can you notice the similarity?

    This is going to be interesting... sounds sweet!

    Mikko is very very concentrated. Silence please!

    To make things really special, I drafted a true specialist, Jussi Reijonen a.k.a. Uli Rottweiler (countless bands and projects, check out his Myspace site) to play Oud (a classical arabic lute, for those of you not familiar with it). He improvised some amazing oriental lines on "Intia", and made the song really special, adding a somewhat cinematic feel as well. He also played another interesting solo on "The Wanderer's Lamentation". We're almost done, Atte is still polishing his keyboard parts at his home studio, and then we have to wait until December for Mikko Karmila to start mixing the album at Finnvox, since he's busy with some unknown band called COB(?) until then.

    Oh yeah, we WILL upload several video clips in the near future, but please be patient!

    Atte has still some work to do...