INTERVIEW – MIKAEL ALMGREN
#1 – When did you first give amp sims a go and what was the plugin you tried?
The first amp sim I tried would have to be a Zoom 505 pedal back in the late 90’s, not
sure if that qualifies as an amp sim, but that was the first digital sim pedal/unit I used. A
few years later there were a couple of different versions of Line6 POD’s I used. I also
used the Behringer V-Amp Pro’s, the blue ones, for both guitar and bass, on live shows
and in the studio. We are talking around 2003-2004 here. I also had a Yamaha DG1000
that I used on a couple of recordings, really good sounding unit. I used it for clean, heavy
distorted rhythm and lead tones, in combination with a bunch of different TC Electronic
The first plugins I really thought sounded good were Bias FX by Positive Grid and now
the Fortin plugins by Neural DSP are really changing the game I think. I tried a couple
plugins before that, but they never stuck with me, so I just kept practicing and recording
with the other physical gear I had at the time.
#2 – Since first getting into amp sims, what are some of the best ones you’ve come
Getting an Axe-FX Ultra, then the Axe-FX II, really changed it for me I would say. The
possibilities are just endless, which can make you over complicate things sometimes, but
I really like those units. Never really got into Kemper, even though I’ve tried ‘em and
they sound good and everything, guess I’m just more of a Fractal person.
#3 – You played bass in the band prior to becoming the guitarist in 2016, have you
tried any of the bass amp sims out there?
I used the Axe-FX Ultra and II models for bass live. Also used the Positive Grid Jam Up
app for the first U.S. tour we did. The Darkglass plugin by Neural DSP will probably
dominate the market as far as metal bass plugins go, seeing as their pedals are so
incredible for metal bass tone.
#4 – In a single guitarist band, how do you dial things in and process to create such a
massive tone both live and in the studio?
For the Monument album recording, my original plan was to spend some time reamping
and trying out different amps, cabs, mics etc. But the schedule for the recording process
was so hectic, so I ended up just using a patch for the Axe-FX II I had created before
recording even started. It’s a combination of two different amps with two different cabs,
with one of the cab IR’s being one that was captured during a recording with my other
band, Terminal Function.
For live situations, I have used pretty much a similar setup with two different amps and
cabs, panned left and right by the FOH engineer, to try to make it sound bigger. Also, the
effects I use (chorus, delay, reverb) are in stereo.
#5 – If you had to recreate your live or studio rhythm tone with only plugins, how
would you go about doing so?
I’m currently working in my studio, experimenting with the Fortin / Neural DSP plugins
through different monitors/wedges and my in ears to find some tones that will sound
good in a live situation. For effects for solos and clean tones I’ll most likely use Bias FX.
#6 – On Soreption’s latest album “Monument of the end” (Sumerian Records), the
lead tones cut so nicely without being even the slightest bit harsh. What does your
studio lead tone involve?
Daemoness guitar, a Horizon Devices Precision Drive and the Axe-FX. Very straight
forward.I used a Fortin 33 pedal for rhythm, which is an awesome boost unit. But for solos I thought it had a bit too much bite to it, so the Precision Drive worked better for lead parts on that particular recording. The patch I made for the Axe-FX for lead playing was similar to the rhythm sound, but had a slightly different EQ, with the mids boosted.
#7 – Do you think amp sim technology could get to the point where you’d consider
using a plugin driven rig live?
Absolutely. As I mentioned previously, I’m currently working on dialing in live tones
with the Fortin / Neural DSP plugins. Sounding great I think!
I’ve actually used Bias FX, running on an iPad, for a show I did with my other band,
Terminal Function, at the Euroblast festival in Germany last year. It worked out really
well, but for tours I’d only use it as a backup solution.
#8 – If you were approached to collaborate on a signature amp suite, what hardware pedals, amps and other gear would you make sure were in there in plugin form?
I think for heavy distorted rhythm tones, there isn’t much to ask for right now with the
quality of the plugins that have come out in the last year or so. T he only thing I haven’t
found yet in a plugin is a clean tone that I’ve been completely satisfied with, but that is
probably just a matter of me spending some more time in the lab.
But if I could create my own fantasy dream plugin, it would contain the following sims:
- Fortin Zuul noise gate
- Fortin 33 and Grind pedals
- TC Electronic Integrated Preamplifier
- Allan Holdsworth OD/Boost by J. Rockett Audio Designs
- TC Electronic 1140 Parametric Equalizer
- Fortin Meshuggah Amp
- Marshall JCM800 Amp
- Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier
- Mesa Boogie TriAxis Preamp
- Mesa Boogie 2:90 Power Amp
- Plus a bunch of cool modulation, reverb, and delay effects.
Note that a lot of this is already available in plugin form. Edit: (We will be posting a list of possible plugins for the above mentioned gear, stay tuned)
For more info and updates, follow @soreption on Instagram and Facebook. I try to keep
my Instagram page (@mikaelalmgren) updated with some more in depth guitar related
material, so shoot me a message or comment there if there is anything else you’re curious about. Thanks for having me!
We want to humbly thank Mikael for his time and a great interview. We strongly suggest that anyone into tech-death, prog metal, death metal and really just shredding in general check out Mikael on the latest Soreption album “Monument of the end” out now on Sumerian Records. Follow Soreption on Facebook, Spotify and all other social media.