This is a mix very much after my own heart, in the sense that you're clearly looking to expand the scale of the climactic moments, not least by enhancing the musical contrasts. This is certainly the most rich-sounding first chorus we've had so far, and I think its moodiness actually reflects the band's intentions well, despite your own reservations. I'm also very impressed with the thoughtful (and thought-provoking) arrangement adjustments you've employed, including the first proper implementation of a full drop-chorus for Chorus 3. There are loads of great little ear-tickling special-effects features in there as well, which are great for sustaining the interest -- and they seem less out-of-place than in some of the mixes we've heard so far because the stage has been set for them from the outset and they're fairly evenly distributed. The verse vocal tone is also well-managed, even if the 'telephone vocal' idea always carries a whiff of cliche with it these days. Overall, excellent work on all of those things -- you've clearly got more good ideas than most of us would know what to do with!
I'm also impressed with the way you've managed to achieve such a good sense of blend, in terms of the way you've managed to get the kit sounding like a single instrument, and in terms of the way you've glued the drums together with the guitars and vocals. You might want to ease back a little on the lead vocal blend, in fact, simply because I think it could afford to be a bit more upfront than it currently is.
All those good things notwithstanding, there are a number of areas of the balance which could be improved upon, most of which are to do with reducing a sense of muddiness in the mix as a whole. This is partly an issue of mix tonality: it feels like there's rather too much energy around the 200Hz region, and not quite enough at 1kHz or in the top two octaves. However, if you try to compensate for this using master-buss EQ, you quickly find that it's only a comparatively small factor. A big part of the problem I think is that you're relying too heavily on the low midrange frequencies of the bass guitar. Clearly, these are frequencies that are important to bass guitar in general
, but you also need to have enough energy further up the spectrum to maintain audibility against the guitars and vocals. As it is, though, you've (sensibly, I think) chosen to have the bass melody audible in the balance, and the inevitable outcome is therefore that the mix as a whole gets murky. My advice would be to clear some of that region out of the bass guitar, and then give it more character above 500Hz instead -- it'll carry through on smaller speakers that way too.
The guitars also contribute a certain amount to the problem too, I think. Just as the bass could clear some room for the guitars around 200-400Hz, the guitars could also make more space for the bass guitar below about 200Hz. At the moment they're contributing a lot of rather undefined low end which just makes the bass and kick feel less punchy, robbing you of mix headroom for little benefit. The additional overdrive you appear to have applied to thicken the choruses will also be making it more difficult to keep the overall mix tone clear, because it's increasing the high midrange density of the guitars and therefore masking the vocals quite heavily, so that they'll tend to feel somehow dull-sounding unless you pile on masses of EQ. This is a common problem in rock mixes, and there are various different solutions. One thing you can try is actually adding distortion to the vocals in the 3kHz range to give them more competitive density, but the danger there is that you end up making the whole mix sound harsh and fatiguing. The other solution is to punch some holes into the guitar spectrum so that the more important spectral regions of the vocals can pop through those gaps.
The third major issue affecting clarity here is your mix delay/reverb effects usage, which feels like it's overloading the mix at the moment. You could pull back those returns by a good 3dB, I'd have thought, and maybe take 30-40% off the reverb/decay times too. Further clarity gains could be achieved with careful EQ on the effect-return channels, especially high-pass filtering. A good rule of thumb with mix effects is that you should only really notice them when they're muted, and while that might not be quite true of a mix on this kind of epic scale, it's still something to bear in mind. The master limiting you've used to boost the loudness probably isn't helping you either, because it feels like it's set very fast, such that it's ironing out the drum peaks more than should really be necessary, even within the context of this kind of peak-to-average figure.
Finally, there are some serious mono-compatibility issues here, and it sounds like it's on account of your using stereo-widening techniques involving hard-panning delayed copies of your guitar tracks. Just looking at the waveforms in some more exposed sections, it looks like you've applied something in the order of a 1ms delay time. Although this does indeed produce a strong stereo widening effect, the phase-cancellation side-effects in mono are pretty disastrous, and have dramatic implications for the balance in the choruses and mid-sections. The biggest casualty is your main guitar line during the chorus, which drops a large amount in the mono balance. (Just to clarify, the main guitar line in Paulo's mix is what I normally refer to as the secondary guitar line in other critiques, but he's chosen to make it more the bedrock of the chorus sections in his version of the arrangement.)
Thanks for uploading this mix for everyone to listen to. It's another great new angle on this production, and adds a lot of intriguing new ideas to the pot. If you can do more to clarify the sonics, then these ideas will only shine out brighter!