Big Fish Audio | Sound On Sound Tom Flint | Modern Rock Product Review
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Modern Rock | Sound On Sound

Reviewer: Tom Flint | Rating: 3/5 Stars Back to Modern Rock product details

Big Fish Audio uses the words “storm”, “explosive”, “raw”, ”roaring”, “power” and “fire” to help describe the guitar sounds of this sample library. As for what qualifies as modern rock, they name-check 30 Seconds To Mars, Paramore, Death Cab For Cutie, Fall Out Boy, The Black Keys, Muse and My Chemical Romance. Death Cab For Cutie fans might be disappointed to find that the band’s relatively soft tones are not really represented here, so the reason why they have been listed is a mystery.
Modern Rock comprises 27 construction kits formatted as 24-bit WAV, REX, Apple Loops and RMX files. Every kit folder has a demo composition mix, plus folders containing amped and dry versions of the loops. Beginners may simply want to play with the amped sounds, but the untreated files open up an exciting range of processing possibilities.
The loops are categorised as Bridge, Chorus, Outro and Verse, and there are four different guitar parts of each type, plus bass. And, of course, all the loops within each kit are designed to work together.
If anything is to be learned from this collection, it is that rock guitar has remained pretty much the same for the last 40 years. Kit 16 101 D, for example, actually sounds like a weird mix of Stevie Winwood’s ‘I’m A Man’ and ‘Voodoo Child’ by Jimi Hendrix. Much of the rest is reminiscent of ’80s hardcore indie bands such as Hüsker Dü. The loops do still sound modern, though, which is mostly to do with the stiff phrasing and characteristic guitar layer combinations.
Overall, there isn’t a huge variation of guitar sounds on offer. The guitarist has undoubtedly tweaked his or her pickup selector and guitar tone controls, but the unwavering distortion eventually becomes too predictable. Thankfully, the direct recordings offer a chance to try out other settings, and at least some kits are blessed with a more interesting mix of sounds. Number 21, for example, makes fine use of a tremolo guitar alongside a loose and tonally extreme rhythmic strumming, not unlike Death In Vegas.
What might turn out to be the most enduring content is found in the Guitar Chord Samples folder, which comprises single chords, strummed and left to decay. The 32 variations cover eight chord types, each of which is played on four tonally differing guitars, so if one variation isn’t quite doing the job, another might. Not only are these useful for intros, endings and emphasis within songs, but with a little effort and ingenuity, they could be combined in various ways to sketch out entirely new compositions.
Without the direct recordings, this collection would test the patience of those with a low boredom threshold. Admittedly, there are some variations in the guitar and amp tones, but not a great deal, and not much in terms of tempo, playing style and chord arrangements. The riffs mostly follow the four-chord progression format, which lends itself to looping, but is perhaps not so useful for truly adventurous songwriting. In a lot of kits, the chorus progression is the same as the verse, just with more notes and effects. Still, that worked for Nirvana and PJ Harvey and, importantly, almost all the progressions here are appealing and catchy. - Tom Flint

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