Alright, let me first say that this isn't just a random critique, Mark asked me to listen and comment, and graciously agreed to do it here in the public forum in hopes someone else might find a tip or thought useful.
And though it will likely be a longer post, it really is just an overview and some random examples.
And before diving in I'd also like to say-
I like the song! Nice writing, nice work! The video also makes a nice artistic compliment, great use of mostly simple images and clips, well arranged and compiled. More nice work, It and the song compliment each other well.
So all critique is intended as constructive and subjective. The way I think it should sound may not be what you are going for. Grains of salt then?
Arrangement wise, the first thing I noticed is the drum track. I would suggest it could use more variety. It kind of drones on with the same beat through out. A more dramatic change between verse and chorus sections perhaps, and some subtle build up of energy as the song progresses often works well. There could also be somewhat more traditional fills and breaks.
In the file I will attach, I added a couple of markers at example locations. Two are where you used a slight "pause" or gap in the drum sequence that is so short, (and perhaps not well timed) that upon first listening I thought might be sloppy edits. Another marker is at an example spot where you did a double snare shot that I think is 1/16th notes. It could be much more dramatic if it were 1/8 notes, and the shots had some increased velocity relative to the steady regular snare hits. And maybe more varied and human velocity and timing through out would help. Another marker indicates where I noticed the kick suddenly becomes more apparent for I think- two measures or so. Probably an editing thing?
Just for examples.
Mixing and overall sound wise the song suffers a bit from sounding a bit "thin" or "hollow" I think. (And I think we can apply that to some previous work as well?)
There's no single thing that will fix that, but instead, a bunch of subtle things. Thats mixing.
And the way every element interacts, its hard to say that fixing a few things wouldn't change some of the following observations and suggestions! But:
We will start again with the drums. Thin and weak, too far in the background. I don't know what kind of chain you used, but it sounds like there may be a reverb on a drum bus? I suspect the drum track needs to be broken up and processed differently. No reverb on bass sounds. Compress the kick a bit to get a bolder sound. Put some snap and a bit of noticeable verb on the snare, etc. Wake that thing up and bring it forward in the mix.
The guitar tracks cold harsh tone is also probably hurting the song overall. I would look to warm that up a bit.
The same kind of goes for the vocal track. Combination of too much processing and the need to EQ a little differently I think. Maybe blend in a little more dry signal to warm it up and EQ accordingly.
In the whole mix overall theres a bit of build up of frequencies in a muddy range, around 500 hZ and a bit of an overall "honky" resonance.
I messed with an EQ sweep briefly that resulted in this effort to round things out a little:
That is not meant to suggest I think the song needs that kind of EQ overall, but instead to introduce the thought of using that information as a tool.
I would follow that discovery with a sweep of those frequencies, and evaluate the individual tracks content for possible changes. For example a boost at around 190 hZ seemed to help, whats there? Pulling up that frequency range to see whats there gives the next clue:
*(Note that the image may exaggerate the idea, for illustrative purposes.)
Now we know what sounds exist there, and we decide what we want to be the dominant sound there and go boost either that track, or eq that track differently to pull up that frequency a little.
Similarly where we cut the 500 hZ area, we would see whats there:
And decide what we want there, and probably go pull everything else down in that frequency a little.
The next things of note about the attached project file. (Dropbox users only for now, sorry.)
(Mark, I pulled the song from Soundcloud, so be aware you may find the time points do not match your original exactly. Note also that the Soundcloud stream is MP3 so the tonal match may vary slightly. I dont think its significant enough to be of concern here.)
Track one is the original, obvious by its name.
For track two I tried to process it a touch to present some of the above ideas.
It's very subtle, there only so much change I could apply to the whole track, and I only spent a few minutes on the effort.
I removed the noticeable hiss. (Thought I missed that?
) and applied some subtle EQ to fit the above concerns and a hint of compression, just to pull up some of the background sounds. I then applied just a hint of tape saturation to "warm" it up a little.
Dropbox folder with project and audio tracks:https://www.dropbox.com/sh/elb1fy2bvwzhynh/AABUBzMRladfjV206wdpMzpSa?dl=0
Let me know if any of the links dont work or there are any problems viewing, and of course, let me know what you think.