Blimey -- now *that's* what I call a balance!
As far as presenting the multitrack files provided in the best possible light, this mix currently has a comfortable lead over any of the other mixes I've heard so far. By virtue of careful EQ and dynamics (and beautifully restrained effects usage) Daunt has managed to create an upfront-sounding mix which nonetheless coheres into a convincing whole. The timbres are focused and appealing, yet without compromising the clarity of line, which is excellent -- notice how clearly you can pick out the bass and guitar lines in Chorus 1, for example, even on a small speaker. The overall tonality is very well-judged in relation to the references (could it have a decibel or two more at 10kHz perhaps?), the mono-compatibility is for the most part good, and the mix translates well across a wide range of listening volumes and playback systems.
As such, the few suggestions I can make don't really add up to a hill of beans: a touch less 4kHz in the overheads might stop the cymbals roughening up the sound too much in the mid-sections at high listening volumes; the toms would benefit from a little automation to refine their position in the balance from fill to fill; there are some over-emphasised fret squeaks coming through from the bass part; the cymbals lose a bit too much high end in the mono balance for me; the lead vocals and main verse/chorus guitar riffs feel a fraction recessed in the 1kHz region; the BVs still feel a little low in the balance; and the outro solo isn't making enough of an impact yet for me -- I think that can afford to take more of step forward, and assume a more central position in the image.
In short, if mixing in the traditional sense were all this track needed, this version would tick all the boxes in style. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that I prefer the sonics of this mix to those of the reference material in a lot of respects. Daunt: this is first-class work!
However, what this mix categorically demonstrates for me is that this particular set of multitracks needs more than traditional mixing (however slick) to bring out its full potential. For a start, tuning and timing issues are still drawing me away from the music more than I would wish here, although it's a testament to how well this track is balanced that the blend is nonetheless as effective as it is. Beyond this kind of session-prep handle-turning, though, the main problem I have with this mix is that it has yet to grapple with the wider production issues that are within the power of a mix engineer to address. As a result the long-term dynamics don't quite fulfil expectations, and it feels as if the inherent emotions aren't condensed into their most concentrated form.
We've already seen a number of attempts to deal with these kinds of things using section edits, mutes, fly-ins, overdubs, and SFX. While none of these mixes have had a balance to rival Daunt's, what they have provided is some additional headway in terms of enhancing the emotional drama and contrast within the song (especially between sections) and attempting to compensate for inherent arrangement difficulties, such as the textural thinning into the final choruses. It's because your mix mostly steers clear of this kind of thing that it doesn't quite sound quite finished to me, despite the great sonics.
One can of course argue that it's not the mix engineer's place to make production decisions. However, my opinion is that it's more important that the mix engineer do whatever it takes to blow the client away, and in a lot of situations (especially when dealing with self-arranged/produced small-studio multitracks) it's production decisions which are required to achieve this.
Many thanks for taking the time to put this mix together. It's truly been a pleasure to listen to, and I hope that it will be an inspiration to anyone following this thread.