With the release of their forthcoming record, Memento Mori, set to drop on May 15th, North American progressive metal act BINARY CODE have been preparing for a whole new era of progressive music. You may remember the band being featured on an episode of Rigged a few years back, and now guitarist/founder Jesse Zuretti is here with an exclusive guitar playthrough for their track “Those I Sought to Spare” (featuring the one and only Jeff Loomis), only right here, on Gear Gods!
If this playthrough doesn’t convert you to being a fan of the band, it’s definitely worth noting that Memento Mori was inspired by the suicide of Jesse Zuretti’s girlfriend, and all of the album sales will be donated to suicide prevention. In Zuretti’s words: “The album was written after my girlfriend at the time committed suicide. The album literally saved my life. I remember begging life for a sign or some guidance, and I woke up the next day and started writing music.”
The band’s sound has shifted over time, from a more technical death metal sound and into their current cinematic, heavy rock aesthetic. If you’re a fan of bands like Katatonia, Gojira, Devin Townsend, and composers like Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, BINARY CODE will definitely be up your alley.
And about the recording of the track, we’ve got not one, not two, but three quotes from guitarist Jesse Zuretti, producer Aaron Smith, and guest soloist Jeff Loomis:
“‘Those I Sought to Spare’ starts out with a baritone acoustic guitar. My friend Mike Venezia at Taylor Guitars hooked me up with an amazing Taylor 410e Baritone-6 LTD Limited Edition African Ovangkol and Engelma — I believe limited in 2017. Ovangkol (heard it pronounced O-Van-Call and O-Vun-Coal) is amazing sounding wood that closely resembles rosewood’s tonal properties, with more mids and high end (but not as bright as Maple). Engelmann Spruce is land more pliable than say Sitka. I think it balances the Ovangkol quite well because unlike the very tonally controlled nature Rosewood, Engelmann Spruce is a bit more wiley in its overtones, which I quite like. I originally wanted a baritone acoustic to play stuff like Pat Metheny’s “One Quiet Night” album, but it worked so well for Binary Code. I’ll let Aaron Smith detail the amps below. I’m a HUGE fan of Hans Zimmer, and we had a funny moment when tracking preproduction for this song about a particular scene from one of my favorite movies. I swear that “Those I Sought to Spare” unintentionally has nearly the same progression as “Time” from the official score that Hans Zimmer did for the Inception film score. I stopped watching movies and listening to music almost the entire time I was writing the new record, so it had to just have been subconsciously burned into my mind. What better song to have that lasting of an effect on me. It’s not like it’s super obvious, but clearly, when I was navigating the chord structure, I gravitated towards the resolution being within that Hans Zimmer stratosphere. This is also a good time to point out how much of a role the acoustic played on our record – there’s a baritone acoustic guitar on more than half of the record. Uncontrived, it just seemed to make the most sense. I’m hoping we can do an acoustic “unplugged” version of a handful of the songs this year as an EP.”– Jesse Zuretti, guitarist
“Everything through a Mesa 4×12 Recto standard slant cabinet (V30s), mic’d off-axis with a single 57 a la Sneap style. A 57 will really truly get you what you need if you place it correctly! Main rhythms are all quadded (meaning four unique performances), panned 100% left and right (arranged as L1/R1, L2/R2). L1/R1 is a block letter 5150, L2/R2 is a JSX, both boosted with a Maxon OD808. Occasionally I’d adjust the gain or boost settings if a specific part need more or less juice for the amp to respond properly, but there were no dramatic setting changes throughout. The 5150 is more of a honky midrange, while the JSX is a little more scooped sounding with some more upper mid sizzle, and the two tones complement each other really well. There’s a pair of L3/R3 or even L4/R4 tracks in parts of some songs, usually occurring simultaneously with the main rhythms, which are things like extra octaves, or really any other auxiliary guitar layer that’s essential (but secondary) to the main rhythm bed. EVH 5150 III for those are the red channel. Often these layers will hit a delay or reverb as well (Blackhole and EchoBoy were used a lot). Clean tones were all the EVH as well, green channel of course, nothing too fancy happening, but I’d dial in the gain/breakup part by part as appropriate. Clean leads are a JSX, which can do a really underrated and glassy clean tone.Distorted leads and solos are the EVH, which I just love the top end evenness of! Bass tone is primarily just a Fender bass through a Darkglass B7K, and it cuts just right! The soft tones are a much less driven sound, no Darkglass, but some FabFilter Saturn to color things. I cannot understate the importance of having a bass player like Connor, who is a real bass player, who has a great feel and control to his playing, which helped a ton at keeping tones and dynamics consistent. Usually I had him playing with a pick, but occasionally with his fingers (especially the soft tones). Last explanatory thought I’ll add is simply that I find stacking amps to be far and away the best way to create natural separation between things in a dense mix. If I were to use the same distorted tone for every track, I would have frequency buildups in the same areas, and the distortion itself would all be so similar that it would sonically want to blend together, and no amount of EQing would be able to truly change that fundamental fact. Using different amps with different characteristics solves that problem before it even becomes a problem, and it’s the only way to do dense high gain layering in my opinion.”Aaron Smith, producer
“Man… I just listened back to that solo I did for Binary Code. The tone with that Strat I used is just stellar. It just has a really violin-like smoothness but cuts super hard. It sits really nice in that tune.”Jeff Loomis, guitarist