Jagged Spiral Presents – Fire And Dice

Album Cover for Jagged Spiral's Fire And Dice - Artwork by J. S. Johnson
Album Cover for Jagged Spiral's Fire And Dice - Artwork by J. S. Johnson

Cover Art for Jagged Spiral’s second album, Fire and Dice. Artwork by J.S. Johnson.

Jagged Spiral’s Second Studio Album is Finished

In 2007, Josh, Colin and I debuted our ‘Northern Rock’ Concept Album – Days From Evil – releasing the mp3s online for free between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2007…

…on 11 July 2008 the Days From Evil CD Release Party was held at Club Underground…

…then we disappeared.

I’ll bet you’re wondering, was it jail or rehab? I’ll give you a hint:

We can’t afford rehab.

The Bureau of Morality defined our music as a weapon of mass destruction, subject to the Homeland Security Act we were classified as terrorists. Not political ones, mind you. More like spiritual/psychological terrorists.

But it turns out the computers in the Hennepin Country Detention Center are not too shabby. Plus, they have high-speed internet. So after a refreshing waterboarding, a couple years of good behavior, a brisk cavity search, and a couple login password resets, I’m finally able to share with you some New Jagged Spiral News:

The long-awaited second album from hard-dark-metal-art-rock-whatever band Jagged Spiral is finished!

It’s called Fire and Dice, and it will redefine the genre of Northern Rock. (We can do that since we created the genre.) It is nothing less than epic. If the Valkyrie had i-pods, they would listen to this album as they rode Pegasi, swooping down on the battlefield to drag the fallen heroes off to Valhalla.

What’s It Sound Like?

Fire and Dice sounds like an unlubricated orgy of Black Sabbath, Foo Fighters and Tool. Being shot to death. On an aircraft carrier.  Towed by a space shuttle. Crashing into a planet. Made of enriched uranium. Which explodes.

Fire and Dice makes The Big Bang that gave birth to our universe sound like Coldplay.

Or if you like, here’s the old marketing copy, which is still fairly accurate:

…Angry. Progressive. Conceptual. Epic. Brazen. Dark. Metallic. Since no other genres suffice, they have decided to declare a new genre of music: ‘Northern Rock’. Rough as a serrated edge. Cold and slick as black ice. The harsh brutality of Gothic Hard Rock merged with ambiance, depth, and groove, then left out in the rain to corrode into something completely unique.

Everything you loved about Days From Evil, only more so. But there’s no concept this time. At least, not any intentional ones. If you really miss it, just pretend each song is a mini-concept-album.

Release Date – 21 Dec 2013

Saturday, December 21st is the Winter Solstice. On that day, the sun will hide away from this side of the world, giving us the longest night of the year. A fitting time to release something as dark and cold as Fire and Dice.

There is no public “release party.” Consider it a virtual online thing, so feel free to get crunked in the comfort of your own home while downloading/listening and don’t forget to share it with your real-world friends and your facebook “friends” since in case I forgot to mention it, Fire and Dice is absolutely…

Free

Jagged Spiral’s music transcends materialistic/capitalistic nonsense. Keep your money. Tell your friends, write a blog post review, or share your enthusiasm on social media instead.

Unless, of course, your name is Diablo Cody and you want to use our music in your movie score, video game soundtrack, or dubstep remix. We still might let you use our music for free, but you have to get permission for commercial use.

Likewise, if you want a physical CD, you’d have to buy it, but I’m not sure why you would. Download all the tracks for free, and burn them to a disk yourself.

Fire and Dice on Bandcamp – To download, simply click the “Buy Now” button and add in a price of $0.00.

Hope you like it.

-Zero

Jagged Spiral’s Second Album Is Named and Graphiced

“Graphiced”? Is that a word? “Graphicized”? “Engraphicated”?

Regardless, what has been generically known as “Album 2” and code-named “Ten Easy Ways To Kill Yourself” is another major step closer to completion. The mastered version of the album is back from the studio, and the track list is set. Graphics for the cd insert are being reviewed, and the album has an official name.

At this point, our band manager is allowing me to answer the following burning questions:

What’s The New Album Title?

Fire And Dice

The marketing focus groups voted down the original working title, “Ten Easy Ways To Kill Yourself”.

How Many Songs? What’s The Track Listing?

  1. Invasion
  2. Lament (part i)
  3. Suffer
  4. Horrorcloud
  5. Push Me
  6. Prophet
  7. Reset
  8. Blood on the Velvet
  9. Fire and Dice
  10. God Hates Emo

How Many People Were Killed In The Making Of This Album?

None that you will miss.

Can We Have A Sneak-Peek At The Album Cover?

Mmmm…. I suppose. But keep in mind, this is work in progress. Subject to change and all that.

Click on the picture below to see the full graphic:

Jagged Spiral Album Cover Rough for Fire And Dice

Coolness, eh? Thanks to J. Stuart Johnson for the awesome artwork. jstuartj.com.

When, Oh, When In The Name Of [Insert Deity Here] Will This Album Be Finished?

No official release date yet. If the stars are right, a 2013 release date might not be out of the question. Stay tuned here for updates.

CD Release Party?

Not likely, unless you’re going to coordinate it. Tell us when to show up, and we’ll be there.

-Zero

Album 2 loading… please wait…

Jagged Spiral can’t be accused of rushing to put something out before its time. Case in point is our long-awaited second album that should be done in a timeline of weeks, not months or years.

The working title is “Ten Easy Ways To Kill Yourself” but I’m told that isn’t appropriate and needs to be changed. Right. If we worried about being “appropriate” we’d shitcan the whole fucking album. If you have a better title, drop it in the comments. In fact, if you have a better idea, come over to the studio and edit the photoshop file yourself.

Like Colin told me, “Keep your beard on.” I promise that if the world does end on 21 Dec, 2012, it won’t be because this album was delivered on time.

-Zero

Jagged Spiral Recording Secrets – The Triple Hog

It doesn’t always happen that we have both a fun time in the studio and a productive time in the studio, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Case in point would be last night’s recording session. We were recording guitars and aside from a headache I got from laughing so much, I think we’ve locked in a great new method for recording massive guitar tone.

Colin has named it “The Triple Hog.” It’s really a hybrid of two recording techniques.

The first technique is one I discovered while watching Zach Wylde’s DVD of behind the scenes while recording Black Label Society’s The Order Of The Black. He does multi-layering of guitar tracks using multiple microphones on each layer, then he blends the layers together.

The second technique was a guitar recording tip Colin read in Mix magazine. Record two tracks of guitar, pan them right/left then a third clean track up the middle and barely audible.

Here’s what you get when you put them all together:

How to Record Massive Guitar Tone Using Jagged Spiral’s “Triple Hog” Method

First, get your guitar tone set up in the room the way you want it. Then mic one cone of the amp with at least two different microphone. Microphone selection and placement is an art form in itself and everyone has their preferences, but I used a Shure SM-57 and a MXL 990 (which you can get packaged with a 991 for dirt cheap.) The 990 is a vocal mic, but it has a nice, clear sound which mixed with the SM-57 well, not to mention it was the only other mic I had in the studio at the time. Mix and match. Try and listen. You might need to play with EQ, levels and placement of the microphones to get something you like. Just make sure to mic the same speaker cone with all the mics you use.

Now, record Guitar Take 1. You’ll end up with one track from each microphone. Pan all these tracks hard left.

Then record Guitar Take 2. Don’t change any settings and don’t move the mics. Have the guitarist play the take the same way they just did. Try to keep the second take tight as you can to the first take. Pan all these tracks hard right.

Now, turn off all distortion and effects in the guitar chain. Then record a third “clean” take. It will sound awful. You won’t like it. That’s OK, because you really won’t hear it when you’re done. You can probably use a single mic to record this clean track, but we used both. Either way, you get one more track for each microphone you’re using. Keep these tracks panned in the center.

When you’re done, the guitarist will be happy because half your project is made up of guitar tracks. You’re drummer will be pissed because there’s more guitar tracks for one guitar than were used to record the entire drum set. Its a good idea to have something on hand to calm everyone’s nerves. We used Newcastle.

Now it’s time to tame the hog.

The secret’s in the mix

Fade the clean tracks until they get lost beneath the left and right tracks, then bring them back up just enough to ‘glue’ the left and right tracks together. Mute and Unmute the clean tracks to hear the difference. You should hear a pulling together of the left and right tracks.

Bam, you’re a superstar! Make sure to double-check your finished product in mono.

You can try to cheat this method by cloning the guitar tracks and using effects like phasing or small delays on one side to get a wider sound. While this works, I think it sounds more processed and less organic than playing separate takes. The sound we get from the Triple Hog method sounds big, bright, and punchy, but not overprocessed.

You can use variations of this method. We previously recorded the left and right tracks as shown above, but panned them about 75% to each side, leaving some overlap, and we did not record a clean center track. This method gave us a nice sound, but we all agree the Triple Hog sounds better.  I’ve heard of using an acoustic guitar as the clean track, never tried it, but who knows? You could even use a synth or other instrument as the glue to pull the left and right tracks together. Whatever works, right? If you have ideas or suggestions, drop them in the comments below.

Bonus Recording Tip:

Six guitar tracks is a lot for a single guitar sound. Leveling and adjusting all those tracks can be a real time-suck. If you can do signal routing with your recording setup, I find it helps to move all the guitar tracks to output to a single bus, then send that bus to the master output. Then you can adjust effects, level, mute, solo, etc on that bus like it was a single guitar track.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Days From Evil Press Release has been… Released

We’ve been working on Days From Evil for years now, but I won’t feel a sense of completion until

  1. I hold the physical, shrinkwrapped CD in my hand
  2. We celebrate the CD with an Release Party.

Thankfully, those things are coming to fruition. Very soon, the order will be placed for CD copies of ‘Days From Evil’. Almost three years of effort are drawing to their long-overdue conclusion.

Promotional copies of the disk are finished, (sans the insert booklet). Just seeing the physical CD with printing on it has made me quite happy. Now, I’m just working on the insert artwork, which should be done this weekend, and the order can be placed next week.

As I mentioned previously, the “Days From Evil” CD Release party has been booked at Club Underground for 11 July 2008. Three other bands will be there to help us celebrate: S.B.I., Sick Machine, and Something To Fear. Jagged Spiral has gone through a significant upgrade in gear since our last live set, and we’re focusing on pulling together a nice, tight, and loud show. Bring earplugs.

I’ve completed the press release about the event which you can check out here: http://www.jaggedspiral.com/forms/dfe1.pdf and I’ve distributed it (with a copy of the CD) to all the usual suspects. With any luck we can expect some honest and objective reviews of “Days From Evil”.

Even if we don’t move a single copy of the CD, even if the critics slaughter it, even if no one comes to the release party, we will finally have payback for three years of hard work, and I’ll have a sense of completion that will let me (mentally at least) move on to other things… like the next album!

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Days From Sushi

On Saturday, the Spiral paid respects to the man who mastered Days From Evil, Reid Rejsa. He put the final coat of polish on the album for us. In return, we treated him to dinner at Sushi Tango in Uptown.

Our server, Janelle, was the most informative sushi waitress one could ask for. Short of busting out a PowerPoint presentation on Sushi, she was able to help us wade through the menu, so to speak, and make some informative and tasty decisions.

I like sushi, but don’t eat it often enough to know more than the difference between the dragon roll and a caterpillar roll. We ordered a smattering of everything, including a small whitefish, head and all, stuffed with rice and..well, himself. Once Vlad was et (we called him Vlad because he had a skewer though him, so obviously he was Vlad The Impaled) anyway, once he was emptied, the remains were taken by Janelle back to the chef, to be tossed into the deep fryer and then we had Vlad Round 2 (or Vlad The Deep-Fried). The eyes were said to be good luck, and Reid was given first pick, and he bravely chose the right eye, which he said had the consistency of a gummi-bear. Colin and Xtina had a Rock-Paper-Scissors contest for the other eye. Colin won…er, lost; depending on how you look at it. Either way, Colin ate the other eye.

All in all a great time, and it was good to sit back and celebrate two years of work we’ve put into Days From Evil by putting an evening’s worth of wine and sushi in our bellies.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Months from Evil

Alas, a couple minor glitches are keeping the Version 1 master of “Days From Evil” being declaired as Finished. Surprisingly, the issues don’t have to do with the sound, they have to do with the track markers; where each track starts. The track markers for Monsters and The Last Song had to be nudged around a bit.

The version 2 master was completed on Friday the Thirteenth, 2007. We are giving the version 2 master a thorough listen, and have even uploaded some of the songs to myspace (www.myspace.com/jaggedspiral).

Once the “Days From Evil” master meets our exacting standards, we will stamp it with the Jagged Spiral Seal Of Approval…um, that is, after we design the Seal, and once the Seal meets our exacting standards…

We still have to design the cover art / liner notes, as well as select the official Jagged Spiral Band Logo.

Work, work, work. Oh well, even though the pay sucks, we don’t complain too much, since we can all drink on the job and the dress code is pretty lax…

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Days From Evil – Mastered?

I feel the need to dispel some rumors about Jagged Spiral, and the lack of blog postings in recent weeks.

  1. I (Zero) have Not been abducted, drafted, or admitted/committed to any institutions for rehabilitation. Any recent visits to foreign countries were completely voluntary.
  2. Josh has not jumped on the Rehabilitation bandwagon, nor checked himself into Hazelton, nor shaved his head, although I can neither confirm nor deny rumors that he shaved his armpits.
  3. Colin has not left the band to start a secret, underground society which plans to overthrow all other secret, underground societies.

No, No, and No to these and many other silly rumors, I assure you that Jagged Spiral is not only alive and kicking, but feeding the musical fuel tank with beer and burritos and generating on average two new songs per month. If we ever finished the songs, that would be noteworthy.

Also, the album Days From Evil has come out of mastering and we have given it several listens in different venues, including in the car, in the studio, in the living room, in the bathroom, in the bedroom, and that one time we tapped into the PA system at Southdale Mall, which caused lots of fighting, riots and oddly enough; breakdancing. All in all, we are happy with the results and should have the album declared as “Finished” any day now.

We have also narrowed down options for a band Logo, and sketched some ideas for cover art.

Stay tuned…

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Days From Evil Premaster is COMPLETE!

The Premaster for “Days From Evil” is complete.

Let me repeat that, because it is significant. (And slightly louder, for the reading impaired)

THE PREMASTER FOR THE PHENOMENALLY UNCANNY, OVERLY-AMBITIOUS DEBUT ALBUM “DAYS FROM EVIL” BY JAGGED SPIRAL IS FUCKING COMPLETE!

I felt more emotional about a month ago, when we *thought* we were almost done. Over and over. There must be a dozen CDs laying around here that say ‘Premaster?’ on them. The differences between them are not obvious. Nit-picky, you might say.

But if there is one thing I’ve discovered in the past (nearly) two years while working on Days From Evil, it’s that the project is never Done until you proclaim it to be Done. It could always be edited more. It could always be re-recorded and tweaked and adjusted a little more. And it might even be improved. And it might not. At some point in the process, you gotta realize that no one else can even hear the ‘improvements’ you are making, and you are wasting your time re-re-recording tracks that were fine on the first take. At some point, you have to decide that you have done your very best, and sometimes the best you can do is get rid of everything you simply cannot live with.

At some point, you gotta take your hands off the wheel.

So the performances for Days From Evil are hereby proclaimed to be finished. And the mixing. And the effecting. And the arranging. We now move into the uncharted backwaters of Black-Magic-Mastering. The rule in recording your own music is: You don’t do the mastering on your own recordings. We have to turn our work over to someone else, someone who has not had two years of constant contact with the music. Someone to listen to our mixes with a fresh ear and an accurate sound system. Someone to tweak, polish, buff, shine, high-gloss, fold, spindle, mutilate and polymorph our songs into something better, and turn a collection of 9 songs into an album.

I warned you. The end is near.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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When is The Last Song NOT The Last Song?

When Jagged Spiral writes it, that’s when.

It’s un-ironic that The Last Song is not, in fact, the last song we will be working on for Days From Evil. The Last Song is finished, as in “mixed to Cigar version” although Josh said it was more like a Cigarillo. Regardless, that’s eight down, and one to go. The song Run will actually be the last song, which should be finished next Saturday.

I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be so close to completion. I mean, we are discussing things like liner notes and where to get the CD’s duplicated. How many do we order? What should we wear when we take the stage at the Minnesota Music Awards ceremony? What about a CD Release party?

CD Release party? Come again? Yikes, you mean we will have to learn all those songs? Songs we have NEVER played together live before?

Oh boy.

Maybe we can just have a real Listen-type listening party, and Jagged Spiral can sit in the audience and listen to the album in its entirity. Or hide backstage like Metallica did with The Black Album. Pussies.

Whatever. The cigar mixes for all songs should be done on Saturday, and then we go into mastering.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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