The Best (mostly metal) Albums of 2016

It’s that time of year again! That glorious time where I get to throw out my opinion out there and pretend like it matters to you. It’s time for my Best Albums Of 2016 List! Now, full disclaimer, I mostly listen to metal, and this list is almost exclusively metal. If I broadened out to include game soundtracks, film scores, or even pop records, rest assured it would change dramatically. But metal is what I’m good at and metal is what I love, so metal is what you’re getting. Let’s start with the Honorable Mention Albums, in no particular order: Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason: An amazing record, but, frankly, not different enough from previous releases to warrant inclusion on the list. Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us: A great record, but the hype machine, combined with the mean-spirited antics of the band definitely impacted my impressions on the record. Violet Cold – Magic Night: A solid showing from Violet Cold, but I felt like other bands kind of did what they were doing better. Vektor – Terminal Redux : A solid effort from a great band, but Vektor has never really been my style and so I don’t see myself really getting much more mileage out of this record. Gojira – Magma: Like Meshuggah’s outing, it’s a solid record with no real fault except for not being distinct enough from it’s sibling albums. 10. Alcest – Kodama (Prophecy Productions) I’m a sucker for concept albums. When I heard Kodama, I knew it was going to wind up on this list somewhere. Kodama is directly inspired by legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. It’s dark and brooding, and brimming with emotion. It’s not quite as impactful as I found Les Voyages de L’Ame, but it’s an amazing and wonderful album in it’s own right, that really encapsulates the black-metal-meets-indie-rock-meets-shoegaze sound that they helped popularize. 9.Nine Inch Nails – Not The Actual Events (The Null Corporation) I don’t care about the opinion that this is an EP and not a full length album. It rips. It’s only the second EP that the band has ever released, and everyone considers Broken to be a NIN classic, so why can’t this be? This one is unique: It’s the first time Trent has another bandmate. Atticus Ross now shares the spotlight and NIN is officially a two-piece band. It’s a short twenty-minute EP with very little frills. It’s a bit more The Fragile than The Slip and I’m more than okay with that. 8. Fleshgod Apocalpyse – KING (Nuclear Blast) If you forgot that KING released this year, I would forgive you. The Italian titans of symphonic death metal released the first single, The Fool, on Jan 1st 2016 and then dropped the full length KING in February. It’s been out for a while now, and lots of other great albums have come into focus since. On this album, I think Fleshgod finally gets the production perfectly on point. There’s a […]


A Glance At Audio Sprites In 1,000 Words Or Less!

In working on a current project, the Twitter-fueled HTML5 -powered game Squirrel Sqript (Which is almost ready to launch, by the way!), I’ve learned a lot about cross-functionality. I acted as a programmer on this team, and as all programmers must do, I had to overcome certain unique problems presented by the platform and the project. Because the game is HTML5, our team encountered an issue in that browser-based games (particularly mobile browser-based games, and especially mobile browser based games) don’t necessarily support audio in the way you want them to. And no single codec is accepted by every browser. AND the performance hits are dramatic for even some of the simplest of audio related functions. AND the list of quirks goes on. It’s maddening! Not even sites specifically built for audio like SoundCloud offer great usability on mobile because putting your phone to sleep not only kills playback, but also the player itself in many instances on awake, forcing a refresh of the entire page. The logic is that most mobile users pay for data per gigabyte/kilobyte, and overage gets expensive, so the browser will take any chance it gets to kill your audio. That’s where audio sprites come in.


MAX/MSP: Delay Lines (A Beginners Tutorial)

Welcome to a quick overview of creating a Max/MSP patch. This is my very first tutorial on Max so it’s going to be incredibly simple. Any other Max Patches I create will likely show off something a little more complex, so experienced users might not find too much here for them. Max/MSP (M.S.P. standing for Max Signal Processing) is an incredibly cool program developed by Cycling ’74, created by Miller S. Puckette (another M.S.P.!). It is largely considered to be a much more user-friendly cousin to Pure Data (“Pd”) , which Puckette also designed. Since I purchased it a month ago, Max 6 has quickly become one of my favorite toys, and is incredibly fun to design audio with. It is a Digital Signal Processing application, which means that it can process audio in real time. We’re going to take a quick look at Max to get a glimpse at it’s capabilities and create a short, extremely simple delay effect. To avoid repeatedly explaining anything, when I say to create an object, just hit “N” on the keyboard and type in the name of the object that I write in a quotes. To start, create an “ezdac” object to create an output for your signal (a “dac” is a Digital-to-Audio Converter – a speaker(!) – and its inverse is the “adc”, the Analogue-to-Digital Converter – a microphone(!). You can use just a regular “dac” as well, but the ezdac offers a graphical interface). The interface of the ezdac is pretty simple. Click it to turn the audio engine on or off. The next step is to actually create the signal, so let’s create a new object called “cycle ~ 220”. “cycle” is a keyword to generate a sine wave. It is an oscillator. The tilde (“~”) is a signifier that the object deals with audio and not data – all audio-related objects end with a tilde. The 220 is an argument for the “cycle” keyword that specifies 220 cycles per second (a wave with a frequency of 220 hertz). If you were to plug this object into the ez-dac, you can hear – at your speakers maximum volume – a pure sine wave of 220 hz. To give yourself some control, create a “gain~” object and connect it between your ezdac and oscillator (make sure to connect all channels of the dac to the gain slider. Now that we have something playing a tone, we’re almost ready to create a delay line, but because we have a single tone playing, any delay is going to go unnoticed, so let’s create a number box (hint! hit I on the keyboard to create a number (integer!) box!) and plug it into the “cycle~” object’s top inlet. The number box will alter the argument of the oscillator, so whatever number you place into the number box will replace the “220” in the oscillator object. The trick here is that you can click and drag on the number box and hear the delay line as your oscillator […]