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electronic MUSICIAN


By Mike Levine | December 1, 2005

Loop libraries from Discrete Drums are known for being creative, well-recorded, and well-played. The company's latest product, Heavy Mental Drums — a collection of hard-rock drum loops — will only enhance that reputation.

The library is offered in a number of configurations. I reviewed the Super Pro Bundle ($379), which contains 24-bit multitrack files, 16-bit stereo versions, and a DVD of the individual samples. Also available is the Pro Bundle ($329), which contains the multitrack loops and the 24-bit sample disc; and the Pro Tools Bundle ($329), which offers the multitrack loops as Pro Tools session files, and the sample disc. If you want the stereo loops only and don't need the sample disc, there's the Stereo Apple Loops Edition ($124), or the 16-Bit Stereo WAV Edition ($129).

Heavy Mental Drums features the playing of studio drummer Tony Morra, and the massive acoustics of the Big Boy Room at The Sound Kitchen in Cool Springs, Tennessee. It was engineered by Steve Marcantonio.

Going Mental

The library contains 16 songs, plus 3 drum solos. In the Super Pro Bundle, the multitrack files come in a box of 14 CDs. Twelve contain the loop files, and the other two are audio discs for auditioning the performances. The 16-bit stereo files come on two discs and are also accompanied by the two audition CDs. The mixes on the 16-bit versions are quite good.

The songs are broken up into loops that are typically between two and four measures in length. The playing covers a range of metal and hard-rock styles, and the collection is fairly diverse from a tempo standpoint.

Several of the songs, include lightning-fast double-bass drum parts — the signature sound of metal drumming. Much of the material in the collection will also work for straight-ahead rock styles.

Multiple-Track Personality

Each multitrack loop is split into eight different tracks that can be mixed at will. You get mono Kick, Snare, and Hat tracks, and stereo Toms, Overheads, Room, Big Room, and Gak, tracks. (I'll explain Gak in a moment.)

All the elements are very well recorded, but the room tracks are what really define this collection. When mixing, I particularly liked adding in the Big Room track, which was recorded well back from the kit. It makes the mix come alive and sound really huge (see Web Clip 1). The Room track was recorded closer, but also adds significant ambience.

The Gak track was recorded with a cheap, Radio Shack condenser mic, and the idea was for it to sound compressed, distorted and generally cheesy. Added judiciously, it can give an additional edge to your mix.

Burn and Punctuate

You get lots of variety in each song. Besides verses, choruses, fills, bridges, intros, and endings, each song also has “Punctuation-Mark” loops, which consist of bass-drum-and-cymbal accents. Some songs have “Crash and Burn” endings in which Morra fills wildly. All have “Bash” tracks, where he keeps time but hits cymbals on all the downbeats.

Including drum solos in a loop library was a novel idea. You get three solos, two that are under 30 seconds in length, and a third lasts for over two minutes. Morra blazes through them, and though I wonder how often you'll want a full drum solo in your production, they have lots of cool parts that could be cut up and used for fills or other short sections.

However, I couldn't find a tempo listing for the solos, and after checking with Discrete Drums, I found out that the solos weren't recorded to a click. To me, that cuts down on their usefulness because — assuming you're only going to use a section of the solo — you'll need to determine its approximate tempo and then time-stretch it to fit the tempo of your project.

Mental Floss

I had problems with the MFI Multi-Format Installer application (Mac/Win) that's included on the sample disk. It's designed to load the samples into a variety of formats including GigaStudio, Kontakt, Reason, Halion, Battery, EXS-24, and Mach Five.

I used it successfully with the EXS-24 in Logic, but had problems when I tried it with Mach Five. It didn't load the samples into the correct folders and thus the sampler couldn't find them. According to Discrete Drums, this glitch should be remedied well before you read this review.

No Brainer

Despite a couple of minor flaws, Heavy Mental Drums is another winner for Discrete Drums. If you need big-sounding, flashy drum loops for your metal or rock tracks, you won't be disappointed.


Overall EM Rating (1 through 5): 3.5
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