Internationally-acclaimed American hard rock band King’s X has mastered their new album at Bernie Grundman’s with mastering engineer and Pueblo Audio gear designer Scott Sedillo. The band is known for it’s powerful combo of progressive metal, funk and soul with a vocal driving force fueled by gospel, blues, and the resonance of early British Invasion groups.
Their first album in 14 years was produced, engineered and mixed by Michael Parnin at his retro-equipped Blacksound Studios in Pasadena. The album was mastered and lacquers cut for vinyl at Bernie Grundman Mastering Studios in Hollywood. Release date is Fall 2022 coinciding with an aggressive tour just getting underway.
Jerry Gaskill tracking drums at Blacksound. Guitarist Ty Tabor looking on. Photo by Priscilla Scott.
“The approach for this record is old school with a retro-70s sound captured by a pure analog signal chain,” explains Parnin. “We did analog summing with the Pueblo Audio Sidewinder for the rhythm section and the main mix buss summing. For automation on the vocals and overdubs we used the SSL Sigma.”
King’s X began in 1979 in Springfield, Missouri, and built a strong following with their unique mix of funky Metal and Soul with complex classic bluesy vocals. Originally a largely underground phenomena, King’s X was a key player in the early development of progressive metal and was ranked No. 83 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.
Parnin continues, “We used distinctly analog treatments in the mix with all the reverb and delays done through an EMT plate from LAFX Studios, along with Fulltone Echoplex, Binson Echorec, and Gibson spring reverb. An H3000 was on hand and we grabbed an old Midiverb II for modulation effects. There were minimal plugins used, mainly for maintenance purposes.”
Parnin explains his workplace, “Blacksound is where this was recorded and mixed. We had some great gear loaned, rented, and generally amassed for the band’s first record in 14 years. My studio has a nice selection of vintage Neve 1073’s and API mic-pre’s. Gil Griffith at Wave Distro was amazing, loaning us a selection of his handpicked gear for the mix sessions, including Empirical labs, UBK Fatso, and Serpent Audio. Pueblo Audio supplied JR series mic pre’s, OLLA DI, and the Sidewinder summing matrix. Tony Pinnick rented us his magical Neumann U-47 large diaphragm mic. Becki Barabas at Harman sent us a care package and loaned us a beautiful AKG C12 mic. The album’s EMT 140 plate printing was done at LAFX with Spencer Guerra. Arranger Mike Farrell helped out with the violin and cello charts and arrangements on two tracks. Stephen Bannister at Westlake Pro has always taken great care of Blacksound and handled all of the new gear needed. All of this generous technical support helped create a remarkable recording.”
King’s X has released twelve studio albums and two live albums. They broke into the mainstream with their first six albums and charted in the Top 100 with Faith Hope Love (1990) and Dogman (1994). Throughout their major label career the band secured slots on arena tours, including opening for Cheap Trick, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Scorpions, Pearl Jam, and Mötley Crüe, as well as the Woodstock ’94 festival. The band is recognized as an influence on such groups as Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Pantera. They continue to tour and perform live.
Pictured at Bernie’s (L-R) during the mastering are King’s X vocalist and bassist dUg Pinnick, mastering engineer Scott Sedillo, and producer/engineer Michael Parnin. Photo by David Goggin.
Michael Parnin commented on the mastering of the album, “Covid-related delays were unavoidable, but it’s great to be finished with this extensive analog project with fully-realized dynamics intact, not slammed and over-compressed. At Scott Sedillo’s suggestion, we printed to 1/2″ analog tape at 30ips to keep the entire mix down in the analog domain, all the way to mastering.”
Mastering engineer Scott Sedillo added, “Early in the production phase Michael had brought his mixes to me for a check in the mastering studio. His ‘in-the-box’ work sounded terrific. Nevertheless, he had an instinct that an analog approach would be even more fitting for the band’s music. This started a journey to build up a hybrid studio with the multitrack being digital and the mixdown system entirely analog. This project was very interesting for me because as a mastering engineer at BGM I usually only work at the very end of the production chain. But as president of Pueblo Audio I was also able to contribute to the other production phases by supplying preamps, DI’s and the final summing amp. It was intriguing to experience how Michael’s new hybrid mixes succeeded in forming a stronger connection to the band and their music. We were also fortunate that the label supported our request to release the vinyl album on four sides at 45rpm, thus removing any physical restrictions for optimizing the cut.”
ABOUT BERNIE GRUNDMAN MASTERING
The name Bernie Grundman is synonymous with Mastering. His world-renowned facilities, responsible for a consistently large percentage of chart recordings, were launched in 1984. In 1997, Grundman opened his Tokyo mastering studios and in 1998 relocated to expanded facilities in Hollywood. Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood is a complex of six studios, including dedicated 5.1 Surround and Lacquer Cutting rooms. Virtually any analog or digital format can be played back thanks to a deep inventory of modern and legacy equipment. The facility provides high quality vinyl masters, pre-masters for CD, and file masters for standard and high-resolution digital distribution and streaming. https://www.berniegrundmanmastering.com/