In the Studio: Devoid of Life

Going through changes

Studio Report by Juha Untinen, written 24 Apr 2013

After the highly successful Posthumanism, it took a few months before I started to compose songs for the next album in earnest. The first song to be completed was Demon In the Circuitry, which was finished in almost the final form in August 2009. The song was quite a clear indication on how the rest of the songs would shape up. The next song to be finished was The Black Rite, which set the direction for the rest of the compositions. I also wanted to do something really extreme, and with the inspiration of some events in life, Frozen Machine was born.

At a quite steady rate of one song per month, the demoing phase progressed quite organically, and all of a sudden I had material for more than one album! That proved to be a dilemma, as all the songs were quite strong. But more on that later in this article. The songs I finished during the rest of the demo times are very close to the songs you can hear on the album, with a few chosen exceptions. Overall the composition phase was very natural and song ideas came all the time.

During the end of the year, there was a slight break in composing, as we were rehearsing and playing shows quite often at this point. Ultimately the next songs for the album were finished during early 2010, perfectly in time with one of the coldest winters in the region! The winter proved very inspiring, and so I managed to finish all songs by May 2010.

My method of working on the song structures and arrangements was to play the songs pretty much non-stop while driving between two towns in a full winter landscape, all the way through to spring. Ideas always sprung up, riffs moved or removed, small details added, and so on, until I was happy with all the songs. Some drastic changes occured to many songs! I really worked on getting the songs into as good flow as I could, especially with live shows in mind.

Once all songs were ready, it was of course time to record. The primary recording took place in May 2010, at my home studio, where all guitars and bass were recorded in record-time. Unfortunately when it came to the vocals, there were some issues which eventually led to Matti Särkimäki no longer being the vocalist. By early 2012, the replacement was found in the shape of Mikko Nikula, with whom I was familiar with from our previous band Coldway, and he recorded all the vocals up north in Kemi, with Teemu Miinala as the engineer.

Since Ville Miinala had joined the band in early 2011, he requested to record drums for some of the new songs. As history can now tell, he ended up playing drums on all the songs! For the first time in the history of the band, there were signs of life in the percussion-side of things!

Most of the remaining recording was done, again, by Teemu Miinala, at his home studio in Kemi. Not one to leave things halfway, we also agreed that he would also mix the album. And so he did, leading to another first in Vortech history. As the recordings were done 750 km away, I don't have much in the way of knowledge of what went on, but everything was done well in time!

Since the composition phase resulted in a multitude of excellent tracks, not all would fit on the album. Therefore there was a long process of selecting which songs would appear where. The target was to create a logical structure for the album itself, first and foremost. The final result was the division into two separate releases, and the more experimental tracks would be on the Infocalypse EP, while the traditional songs appeared on the full length release Devoid of Life.

Incidentally, the more experimental release, Infocalypse, would be released first. It was not until April 2012 before Devoid of Life would be released to the world to hear. On the very week of release, it was downloaded almost 1000 times! A first in our history, to be sure. And to finalize the process, the album was also released on full factory-pressed CD in October 2012.

Gear used

The guitars for the album were done with a Schecter 007 Blackjack, and all the bass tracks with Ibanez BTB-555 NF. Mostly in standard B-tuning, but a few tracks in drop-A.

Originally the drums were going to be with Superior Drummer 2.0, but with Ville onboard, they were re-done with real drums with a Mapex kit and Sabian cymbals. The recording itself took place in the Kemi studio, in Northern Finland, where the drums were finished quite fast!

During the same sessions, the vocals were also recorded with new blood. Mikko did his parts in record-time! Unfortunately the recording setup is a mystery...

As the final first for us, the mixing duties for the album were also outsourced and done by Ville's brother, Teemu Miinala, in his home studio in Kemi.