It's a hard noise to verbalise, but it sounds like this: gu‑gu‑gu‑gu‑GRNZZZZ. Yes, folks, it's the unmistakable racket of modern metal guitar, as exemplified by Meshuggah's Fredrik Thordendal, Hate Eternal, Slipknot, Darkane and countless others. To authentically create this brain‑exploding din you need a guitar that goes below bottom E, an amp that goes above 10 and understanding (or deaf) neighbours. It also helps to have long black hair, extensive tattoos and a penchant for advanced debauchery (coincidentally, a look and lifestyle enthusiastically espoused by SOS's staff).
As Scandinavia is the world HQ of the guitar timbre memorably described by Kerrang! magazine as "malevolent, brutal and devoid of mercy”, Tonehammer went to the source and hired Swedish session guitarist Danne Forsblom to create the deathly metallic riffs in this collection. Forsblom used a variety of detuned six- and seven‑string guitars to record a 1.08GB-phrase library centred round the exciting, guttural, often staccato, immensely powerful low‑pitched patterns that epitomise contemporary metal. Following standard procedure, everything is double tracked to make the sound twice as heavy.
The library consists of 161 riff‑based sequences (mostly four to eight bars long) spanning a tempo range of 80 to 140 bpm, which have been chopped into short, mainly one‑bar, looping phrases. There are no screaming 'classic rock' lead breaks, but some riffs incorporate chordal action. As is often the case with this genre, the sonic mayhem is supplemented by intelligent musical thinking (including some atonal excursions), and although they're all in 4/4 time, the phrases feature some nice, unpredictable syncopations. The riffs and their double‑tracks are played with great accuracy and feel, making it easy to construct your own arrangements.
While remaining heavily distorted throughout, the guitar tone has three or four variants, and a mad synth‑like effect creeps in on a few phrases. You can mangle the sound further with the Kontakt 'vowel‑wah' patches, using the mod wheel to produce talkbox‑like tonal mutations. Kontakt's time‑stretching capabilities also allow you to sync the phrases' tempo to your host sequencer, and/or pitch‑shift them without changing tempo. The double‑track samples' level can be controlled by the mod wheel or, alternatively, you can load the double-tracks as separate instruments. These handy options make the library highly flexible and great fun to work with.
To enjoy these facilities, you'll need the full version of Kontakt 3.5 (Kontakt Player is not supported). Logic EXS24 versions are provided for convenience only and have limited functionality. I really enjoyed playing with these maniacal metal motifs and found them creatively inspiring: my only slight disappointment is that no straight multisamples were included to enable us to wreak our own riff‑based havoc. However, the raw samples (supplied in 44.1kHz/24-bit stereo WAV format) contain many exposed long notes, chugs and power chords, which are begging to be extracted. Ear plugs not provided! Dave Stewart