In their own words, Terminal Sleep combine a melting pot of heavy influences. Combining 'dumbed down' mosh and chaotic riffs, they're taking over.
The first Terminal Sleep release Chapter 1: No Solace was released to huge acclaim, bolstering their reputation for an aggressive live show. This was followed by Chapter 2: Elicit Fear, and from there they moved to consistent gigs, tours and a growing fanbase.
We sat down with Dom and Will, Terminal Sleep’s guitarists so discuss their tones, inspirations and writing process.
Guys, thanks for taking the time. For those unacquainted, how do you define Terminal Sleep’s sound?
Will: I would say it is a mix of older, frenetic style metalcore, with a combination of modern, heavier-style hardcore. We definitely haven’t stuck to a specific singular sound, so we have the freedom to do whatever we want currently that we’re happy about. It ebbs and flows out of many heavy genres of music, and Bec’s vocals tie it all together.
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Dom: I’d define our sound as melting pot of heavy music we grew up listening to from bands like Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan to a range of hardcore, punk and death metal.
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You’ve had a lot of success with the release of Chapter 1: No Solace and Chapter 2: Elicit Fear, when and where did writing for these two Terminal Sleep releases begin?
Will: The writing started after myself and Bec decided to do a heavy band, and then the members followed after the first couple of demos were tracked at home.
It was initially going to be a more caveman, ‘dumbed down’ style heavy hardcore/beatdown band initially, but as we then decided to tune to Drop B rather than Drop Z as originally planned, my brain got bored and I started writing more technical riffs. The more we write, it has now naturally evolved into a mix of everything that we enjoy.
With demoing and song writing, there has been things written in the jam room, but most of it is written solo at home, and demo’d directly into an interface with fake drums etc.
I use Logic for my DAW, and Dom uses Reaper, but we both use the Gojira Neural DSP plugin for guitars predominantly, and the God City Instruments (Kurt Ballou) drum pack.
The Gojira plug-in is incredible for the options, especially with the in-built reverbs, polyphonic pedals and drives (and a good tuner), and the GCI drums are right up our alley, as we are both big fans of Kurt’s drum sounds that he pulls for his records.
For bass, at home I use the Neural DSP Darkglass plugin, and the bass in my eyes will always be the main focus of our band sonically, rather than guitars. You can tune to E standard, and as long as you have the bass tuned in and loud in the mix, it will still sound heavy as fuck.
You’ve developed a reputation for a pretty ferocious live show. Do you have the live show in mind while writing and recording?
Will: We definitely have the live show in mind when writing, but we also don’t want to be a band that every single riff is a mosh riff, as much as we love it. We try to have the mix where the heavy parts poke through at the right times, and build some suspense before dropping them. The mosh science needs to be adhered to.
As we’re pretty stripped back and play without clicks/tracks/in ears etc., ours recordings also mostly reflect that, so we’re not missing anything important live. We also want our live show to feel like a hardcore show, not a polished, modern metalcore vibe, and I think this makes live shows more exciting. Think Converge, Dillinger, Trap Them, ETID, [they’re] masters of their craft, and always wild as hell shows where you don’t know what to expect.
What are Terminal Sleep playing live?
Dom: I’m using an LTD Mirage ’87 Deluxe as my main guitar for live shows and in the studio. It’s completely stock because I love the way it feels and the Seymour Duncan Distortion pickup. I’m running that into a J Rocket Silver Archer and a Fortin Grind for some tonal fine tuning before it hits the preamp of my Mesa Dual Rectifier. The combination of these pedals is great for taming the low end of the Mesa and dialling in more mid range frequencies to really help keep my tone sounding fierce but controlled and stable in the mix.
Will: I’m using a Charvel DK24 as my main guitar, and have also swapped the bridge pickup out for a Seymour Duncan Distortion after watching far too many YouTube video comparisons. It has more ‘girth’ than the original SD ‘Full Shred’ had, and I’m very happy with the change.
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This goes into a Maxon OD9+, and then into an EVH 5150iii 50w head into an Orange 4×12 speaker cabinet. Another key to my sound would be the reverb I use, and my mainstay is the Mr. Black ‘Supermoon (chrome)’. It has the ability to go fully wet, and has a ‘sway’ pot, that makes the note go more out of pitch the further it is up. I love this pedal.
Where do you guys stand on the analogue vs digital debate?
Dom: I think that the digital equipment available now is incredible. We both use the Gojira Archetype plugin for demoing at home as well as the Kurt Ballou God City Drum kit. I also use an Axe FX II for a lot of my writing and demoing but live nothing quite captures the spontaneous nature of a tube amp with a guitar cabinet pushing air across the stage. In the future I’m sure we will explore digital options for touring, when it makes sense, without sacrificing our sound and onstage energy.
As a closer, have you got a desert island piece of equipment that you couldn’t do Terminal Sleep without? A core piece in each of your rigs would be great!
Dom: I think that the Fortin Grind is the one piece of equipment that really is the defining tone in my sound. It’s such a great pedal that feels like it was made for the Dual Rectifier and that combination sounds so good in the mix, without having too many dials or switches to leave you with option paralysis.
Will: Similar to Dom, the main key to our sound is an [Ibanez] Tubescreamer into a high gain head, but just to be different, I’m gonna say the Mr Black Supermoon as I love a good ‘verb.
If we were stuck on that island from the movie ‘The Beach’, I would probably just want the Dunable “Bong” guitar they made.
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