An Adventure in Esoterica – Part 2 – A Terrible Fate

m with cat
What do recording studios have in common with the Internet? Both are full of cats. (This is my friend “m” in studio, about to tell me what to do)

By Adam Schloss

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends! When last I left you all, I had been invited to partake in a grand experiment, one which has since been completed. Follow me, then, as I lead you on an epic journey filled with hopeful beginnings, crippling frustration, shameless overuse of Internet memes, some cool equipment, and a final victory.

Okay, maybe I’ve oversold things just a little bit…

First things first — I knew that the song had been written, at least instrumentally. Little did I know that I was in for a surprise:

m: You know “M”? He’s been ultra busy and hasn’t had time to write lyrics

m: You wouldn’t want to give it a shot, would you?

Well, obviously. It isn’t like I’ve never written lyrics before. (note: I have never written lyrics before.)

m: Awesome!

m: The song is a weird one, it’s the mini boss and dungeon boss battle music’s from Majora’s Mask

Huh. Guess how many times I’ve played Majora’s Mask.

No, that’s too high. Try lower. Lower. Lower still… wait, who guessed 0? You’re right!

Bad Poker Face

So to recap, I had just agreed to write lyrics for a song based on a game which I didn’t know. Awesome.

I decided to start with vocal melodies. I figured that would be the easiest part of the whole process, since I’ve learned how to supplement one melody with another, particularly in the context of the progressive metal genre. I intentionally did not say “harmonize” to describe the process, since that isn’t really what I was doing here.

At any rate, following a few hours of quality time in front of the piano of my childhood home, I had more or less written a vocal melody I was satisfied with. I recorded myself humming it along with the existing instrumental track, and sent it back to m and M. Great, progress! Now it was time for lyrics.

… and several weeks passed with no progress.

I have no idea

Finally, after about a month, M saved me from myself and sent me some lyrics she had written, far superior to anything I could have ever hoped to come up with:

A sky awash in color,

rumbling in the ground.

“Doom is crashing towards us”

go the whispers through the town.

Who alive can save us,

can fight the host of swords—

the undead in their towers

rousing thirsty hordes?

Master of all faces,

lord of many masks….

He whose heart is true

walks the giants’ path.

Ancient powers, gather,

sleepers in the earth,

now the need is dire.

Prove to us your worth.

To be honest, I’m actually glad that m and M ended up writing lyrics instead of me, since it was their song and I was just singing on it. My first experiment in writing lyrics will simply have to wait for another time, perhaps when the intended topic is one with which I have more experience.

Several tweaks to the lyrics later, we were finally ready to record my vocals. One Sunday, I moseyed on over to m and M’s apartment, where we partook of Chipotle and discussed exactly what they were looking for in my vocals. After I was satisfied with what they wanted, we all piled into M’s VW and headed up to Frederick — where the studio is — blasting Circus Maximus the whole way.

Upon arrival at the studio — actually just someone’s house, where a bedroom and closet had been converted for use as a sound engineering station and vocal recording booth — I walked into said closet, closed the door, and didn’t come out for the better part of an hour. Over the course of that time, I sang through the song a few lines at a time, refining portions as necessary, until my vocal contribution was complete. They also had me contribute some harmonies, and even some growls, much to my surprise!

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the song turned out, although the one quibble I have is that I might have preferred the vocals to be more prominent in the mix. That being said, my vocals were intended to add another layer to an existing song, rather than serve as a centerpiece — so in that regard, they serve very well.

Oh, right… I guess you want to hear the result, don’t you? Here it is: A Terrible Fate! (it starts instrumental, then my vocals come in around 2:30)

Adam Schloss is a late twenty-something Washington-area native and erstwhile Pittsburgh enthusiast. He studied physics in college and works in the software industry. In his free time, he can most often be found gallivanting about the DC area, singing karaoke, playing pub trivia, watching hockey, and occasionally performing air guitar in public.


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