With all of the aggressive guitar riffs, pounding drums, and screaming vocals, metalcore is known for its intense and powerful sound. But what if you could add even more depth and atmosphere to your metal tracks? That's where synths come in.
This article will examine the ways that modern metalcore bands use synths to improve their sound and will offer advice on how you may use synthesizers to liven up your own music!
What are Synthesizers in the Context of Metal Music?
A synthesizer (synth for short) is a piece of electrical equipment that can manipulate electronic signals to produce a variety of sounds. Since the 1960s, synths have been a mainstay in a variety of musical genres, including rock, pop, and electronic music. Synths are frequently employed in metal music to give depth, embellish melody lines, and create atmospheric textures.
They are able to produce sounds that conventional instruments are unable to produce, and can be a huge asset for any band looking to expand on the soundscape in their music.
In metal, synths are often used to create ambient soundscapes that complement the heavy guitar riffs and driving rhythms. They can be used to create atmospheric intros and outros, enhance breakdowns, and add depth to the choruses.
Some modern rock and metal bands, such as Bring Me The Horizon, Bad Omens, and more have even incorporated electronic and EDM elements into their music, using synthesizers to create futuristic sounds and textures. This is apart of what makes their music sound larger than life, and really impact the listener!
Using the right sounds can be a great way to complement the other musicians in your band and give your music a larger than life feel with the production.
If you need free synth presets for Serum to try in your own music, try out our pack here!
Why Do Modern Metalcore Bands Use Synths?
Modern bands use synthesizers for several reasons.
- Synths can add a new layer of complexity and depth to the music, allowing for more dynamic and interesting compositions.
- They can help to create atmosphere and mood, making the music more emotional and immersive.
- They can help to differentiate a band's sound from other metalcore bands, giving them a unique identity and helping them to stand out in a crowded genre where so many bands are using similar amps, and similar drum samples already.
Many modern metalcore bands use synths as a key part of their sound, and the key for making them unique is treating synths like it's own member of the band, and giving it a voice. For example, Bad Omens incorporate atmospheric synthesizer textures into their music, while Northlane uses synths to create intricate melodies and dynamic soundscapes that often go with the guitar riffs. Architects uses synths to create ambient intros and outros, as well as textures throughout the songs. In short, if you want to create a modern, dynamic metalcore sound, using synthesizers is essential and can help you level up the production of your music.
How Can You Make a Synthesizer Work for Metal Music While Not Sounding Like EDM or Dance Music?
It's crucial to consider how the synth sounds blend with the track's overall tone while using synths in metal.
Some bands favor a more natural, guitar-driven sound where synths play a more ambient role in the music, while certain metalcore bands have successfully incorporated electronic and EDM elements into their music.
To make a synthesizer work for metal music without sounding like EDM or dance music, consider the following:
- Use synthesizers to complement the guitar riffs and rhythm section, rather than overshadowing them.
- Use synthesizers to add depth and atmosphere, rather than as the main focus of the track. Sound choice, and melody is crucial here.
- Experiment with different synth sounds and textures until you find something that works well with your guitar tone and overall sound.
- Use synthesizers sparingly, focusing on using them to add interest and dynamics to specific sections of the song for impact rather than throughout the entire track.
By following these tips, you can create a sound that incorporates synthesizers while still sounding like a metalcore track and not like you’re in a club.
What Synths Do Metal Bands and Producers Use?
There are many different types of synthesizers that metal bands use to create their sound. Here are a few popular options:
Serum by Xfer is probably the most popular software synths used by many metalcore bands. It's known for its powerful sound design capabilities, with a wide range of wavetables and FX options available. Many modern metal producers and songwriters use Serum to create unique sounds that help their music stand out from the crowd.
We are huge fans of Serum and even created a preset pack called "Euphoric" which features 100 Serum Presets designed specifically for metalcore. This pack has everything from Ambience and Synth Leads to Aggressive Bass Sounds. Check it out here!
Vital is a digital synthesizer that can be downloaded for free (with paid upgrade options as well), offering a range of wavetable sound design options. It has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to create and modify sounds, with features like drag-and-drop modulation sources and targets. The synth comes with over 400 presets and supports the import of custom wavetables, making it a versatile tool for musicians and producers looking to explore new sonic possibilities.
This is a great option for ANY musician or producer looking to get into adding synths to their music.
Moog synthesizers are classic analog synths that have been used in metal and rock music for decades. They have a warm, rich sound that can add depth and character to a metalcore track. Moog synths can be expensive, but many musicians and producers swear by their unique sound and versatility.
Korg synthesizers are another popular option for metal bands. From traditional analog tones to contemporary digital textures, they offer a wide variety of sounds and functions.
Korg synths are an excellent choice for musicians on a budget because they are typically less expensive than Moog synths.
Roland synthesizers are known for their versatility and flexibility. They offer a wide range of sounds and features, including both analog and digital options. Many metal bands use Roland synths for their powerful bass sounds and dynamic lead tones.
The synthesizer you choose will ultimately rely on your particular preferences and the tone you're aiming for.
Are Analog Synths Worth the Price?
Analog synthesizers can be expensive, but many musicians and producers believe that they are worth the investment. Here are a few reasons why:
Analog synths are known for their warm, rich sound that is difficult to replicate with digital synths. Many metalcore producers and songwriters prefer the sound of analog synths for their ability to add depth and character to their music, although as technology as grown over the years, the sounds are becoming closer and closer to being indistinguishable.
Analog synths can be used to create a wide range of sounds and textures, from smooth pads to gritty basslines. They offer a level of flexibility and control that can be difficult to achieve with digital synths.
Analog synths are built to last. They are often made with high-quality materials and are designed to be repaired and maintained over time. Many vintage analog synths are still in use today, decades after their initial release.
That being said, not everyone needs an analog synth to create great metalcore music. These sounds CAN become outdated, and leave you with a more limited selection when it comes to sound design. Digital synths are a fantastic alternative for artists on a budget because they provide a wide selection of sounds and functionality at a more reasonable price point.
Can You Use Digital Synths Live?
Yes, digital synths can be used live. In fact, many metalcore bands use digital synths in their live performances to add texture and depth to their sound.
There are a few things to consider when using digital synths live, however.
- You will need to make sure that you have the necessary equipment to play and control your synth on stage. This may include a MIDI controller, a laptop or tablet, and other accessories to get the sound to the front-of-house engineer.
- Ensure that your synth is set up to be heard clearly in a live setting. This may require some tweaking of your synth's settings and effects to ensure that it cuts through the mix and doesn't get lost in the other instruments.
- Be prepared for any technical difficulties that may arise during your performance. It's a good idea to have a backup plan in case your synth malfunctions or fails to produce the desired sound.
Overall, digital synths can be a great option for metalcore musicians looking to add extra depth and texture to their live performances. With the right equipment and preparation, you can achieve great results with a digital synth on stage.
In conclusion, synthesizers can be a powerful tool for adding depth, texture, and interest to metalcore tracks. From ambient pads to thick leads and harmonies, synths can help take your music to the next level.
While analog synths have a unique warmth and character, digital synths offer a wide range of sounds and flexibility that can be especially useful in a modern metalcore context. Check out our FREE Serum Presets pack can help get you started with using synths in your own music, or if you're ready to deep dive, check out Euphoric, our Serum preset pack designed for adding synths to your metalcore tracks.
When it comes to using synths, it's crucial to find a way to incorporate them that enhances your music instead of taking away from it. The key is to experiment with different sounds, effects, and techniques until you discover the perfect blend of synth and other instruments that results in a distinctive and captivating metalcore sound.
As a metalcore musician or songwriter, don't hesitate to explore the possibilities of synths to inject some new energy into your tracks. If you approach it with the right mindset, they have the potential to be an incredibly dynamic tool that elevates your music to new heights.