Review: Cinesamples Drums of War

Cinesamples Drums Of War

Cinesamples Drums of War is sample library featuring a variety of cinematic drums.

Reading through the Drums of War manual I liked the intro text so much I’m just going to share it here:

Drums of War was created for the same purpose as that of our other two libraries.
While working on a project we found ourselves in need of a sample set which, after conclusive research, we found to be nonexistent. We needed drums that would capture the magnitude and true essence of a forgotten battle fought in a forgotten place. They needed to posses a tone that would be associated with the trepidations of warfare. They needed to retain a deepness that could intimidate from afar yet have the warmness that would inspire the timid. They needed to sound as if they were built from the wood of long-extinct trees and the skins of beasts not seen on the earth in millennia. Most importantly they needed to remind us of the grand, prehistoric armies as they stormed across ancient Europe, terrorizing all in their wake.

Lovely “cinematic” intro! In a world… where the ancient drums of Europe were long forgotten… one war drum sample library is on a mission…

Anyway, I think the above text is a pretty good indication of what we have here. Big drums, ready for battle!

Drums of War details

  • Pristine 24/96k Recordings at the legendary Manhattan Center Studios
  • Unprocessed natural cinematic sonic quality
  • 100% Natural Reverberation
  • Live Ensemble Playing
  • Extensive 5 Dynamic Layer Patches each using Level based Round Robin programming
  • Truly Random Round Robin Scripting
  • Quick EQ GUI using pre-selected frequencies for quick and accurate equalization
  • Alternate Takes Included (Up to RR X13)

Big drums, big selection?

Drums of War comes with just 14 patches. A small number perhaps, but there is a good reason for this.

Producer Tim Starnes (music editor of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) explains:

Our intention was to capture a specific type of percussion typical in the cinematic experience. We wanted to focus our energies on a very specific sound rather than trying to offer a huge variety and we believe our product is better for having done so. This makes it easier for composers because our library is quite clear and specific. Though it is very specific in focus, it offers a variety of textures that are all very useful to any composer and on any project.

Drums of War steers clear of the usual ethnic percussion like the Taiko drums, and instead focuses on European elements. I don’t know what types of drums were used exactly, but there is still plenty of sonic variety in this library.

Let the drums roll

Drums of War comes as a multi-format installer (easy registration code installation) including Logic’s EXS24 and Native Instruments’ Kontakt formats. I installed the Kontakt version, which organizes the instrument patches like this:

  • Single shot sounds on three notes (middle C/C#/D, same programs),
  • some pre-recorded rolls,
  • and custom rolls on the C note one octave down (uses the mod wheel).

Having the single shot drum sounds on various notes might seem silly, but it is actually very handy for playing beats live, great in combination with a controller with velocity sensitive pads.

The instruments feature an advanced sample specific round-robin script which keeps the instrument from playing the exact same samples when hitting the same note repeatedly.

Many samples feature six different alternations, and the script even keeps a record of which notes you’ve played (including velocity) in order to not repeat the same sample the next time you hit the same note, even when not played in repetition (i.e. when you hit a few other notes before you hit the first one again).

CineSamples Drums of War
CineSamples Drums of War in Kontakt 3

The Kontakt performance view offers easy access to the instrument settings.

  • Envelope, attack and delay controls
  • Velocity, volume response for setting the dynamic range, and a velocity curve offers rescaling of velocity on incoming notes
  • EQ, Boom, Body and Head (or bass, mid and treble) allow you to color the sound to your liking

The performance view lets you tweak the sounds with ease.

So what do I think?

Drums of War is excellent for cinematic percussion. The drums sound big yet not overpowering, great for using these instruments in your soundtrack without having to do tons of work on the mix. Tim Starnes took great care to deliver a natural sound, be sure to read more about the recording process here.

The sounds are of high quality (I used the 48kHz version, you can get 96kHz as well), which undoubtedly is a combination of the equipment used, the recording room, and the expertise of the Cinesamples crew. The Kontakt version features some very useful scripts by KPS guru Nils Liberg (not sure if there’s anything similar for the EXS24 version).

If you’re looking for cinematic percussion you should definitely check out Drums of War. The 1GB 24bit/48kHz version is available as a digital download for $99 USD, while the 2GB 24bit/96kHz version costs $129 USD.

Visit the Cinesamples website for more information, some audio demos and an online video tutorial.

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