The Black Album Drums is a drum library for BFD3 and Kontakt 5.5 (full version) inspired by the drum sound featured on the “Black Album” by Metallica from 1991: it features the kit played on that record, not just the same model, that exact kit (a 1980 Gretsch with Zildjian cymbals and a Tama Bell Brass snare), 2 snares (we added an extra Ludwig 1970s vintage Black Beauty), dual kicks (L&R), 5 toms, 4 crashes, 1 china and an additional ride cymbal. We approached the production of this library with an enormous amount of respect and love for the sound we wanted to capture: one of the signature sounds of the history of Rock and Metal music. To this extent, we were lucky to track down a large number of information and material regarding the sessions we were inspired by.
Please Enjoy these videos and audio demos describing the features of the library and further info on the recording sessions and see you in a bit, below here.
Enjoy these audio demos: each demo is also presented in a Drums++++ version with the rest of the arrangement mixed very low so you can better enjoy the sound of the library. All demos feature the drums purposely mixed inside the hosting plugin (Kontakt 5.5 on Grinders By Little Dom and Your Time Has Come, BFD 3 on Black Drive and Too Bad To Be Forgiven), hence using only the stock effects available on each supported platform.
The only processes applied to the drum sound after it exits the hosting instrument are: a brickwall limiter on the master ( Pro-L) and the mp3 encoding.
After finding out the former One On One Studio, famous in the 80s and early 90s for some of the best rock records of the times, got back in business under the name of 17 Hertz in the same exact location and with the room sound perfectly preserved, we decided we wanted to produce a drum library there. Out of luck we also found out that Ross (the Drum Doctor) still owns the kit which was originally used on the “Black Album”. The next step was finding out Mike Tacci, originally the assistant engineer of that record, was available for the session.
Located in North Hollywood, One On One Recording studio gained popularity in the 80s for having the best drum sound in Los Angeles and became home to many of world top acts: Alice in Chains, Aretha Franklin, Bad English, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Earth, Wind & Fire, Etta James, Hal David, KISS, Lita Ford, Megadeth, Metallica, Michael Jackson, Michael McDonald, Mötley Crüe, Sammy Hagar, Survivor, The Temptations and Tom Petty are among the legends who recorder and/or mixed at One On One Recording along the years. During the 90s the studio was bought by a Japanese rock star and became a private facility. The studio ended up in a dire status until Jason Gluz, the new owner under the 17 Hertz Studio moniker, got it and restored it to its original glory.
The “Black Album” was tracked using a 1980 Gretsch drum kit Ross Garfield rented to Metallica during the long months they were resident at One On One starting autumn 1990. Featuring Lars’ Zildjian cymbal set of that time and the famous Tama Bell Brass 6.5 inch snare drum. The drums are in perfect shape (just a little bit of rust on the Bell Brass) and were equipped with matching drum heads, After the initial setup we spent quite a bit of time matching the tuning of the drums to the one on the record before we set off to sample the drums. To the original kit setup we added a vintage 1970 Ludwig Black Beauty 6.5 inch snare and a ride cymbal to augment the expressive power allowed by the library.
The microphones (and outboard)
The original recording featured a quite amazing recording setup and mics. The net is awash with myths regarding those sounds. The studio currently doesn’t feature the same mic locker as the one the original production had at their disposal, so we had to rent quite a bit of material. Then we decided to add a bit of options based on our taste and ears, always to augment the possibilities given by the library
Kicks were recorded with EV RE20, Sennheiser MD421 and a Neumann Fet-47 on the outside
Snares featured a Neumann KM-86 and a Shure SM-57 on top with an AKG C451 on the bottom
Hi-Hat is presented miked with a Shure SM-7 and an AKG C451
all other Cymbals are closed-miked with AKG C451s
Toms are top and bottom miked with Sennheiser MD409s and MD421s
Overheads were high hanging Neumann U87s
Rooms feature a single AKG C414 as a mono rear room mic, 2 + 2 AKG C414 in XY on the left and right front of the kit, mixed down to stereo, 2 AKG C12s tube mics as front close rooms, focused on the drums (and especially the kick) and a couple of extremely coveted Telefunken ELAM 251E tube mics placed up above the original mic locker acting as far rooms