Cinemania – Apocalypse Elements by Soundiron and Damage from Heavyocity
Two libraries that cover the full spectrum of percussion lines – from “normal” for everyday use to “abnormal” – the ones that can help you to spoil the party .
by A. Arsov, May 2016
It is an odd and even combination. Apocalypse is an even – a great collection of a sharp sounding orchestral percussions, various cinematic drums and cymbals. The main advantage of this library is that every kit sounds very strong and prominent, being quite constant in volume, fitting very nicely into the mix. The most impressive, at least for me, is a clear high end that doesn’t sound annoying and well-defined bottom end that doesn’t run down other instruments in your mix. The end result is a crisp, warm but still aggressive character to all kits. I remember Mike from the old, pre-Soundiron/ToneHammer days when I covered two of their products, and one thing is for sure, he used to be and still is a master of sampling and programming. You can’t go wrong with any of his libraries. There are quite a large number of orchestral libraries around, some have a really cool and innovative approach offering some great things, but I prefer Apocalypse because of its sound. It is hard to describe, maybe you should listen to some demo clips on their site and you will get the picture. For $99 USD you get a great basic library with additional MIDI clips and integrated player. The whole library is very playable and can sound great even if you are not such a great keyboard drummer (I am proof of this as I’m not a great keyboard drummer myself).
On the other side we have Damage. Omen est nomen. It is a big collection of all kinds of aggressive, dirty, obsessive, maniacal percussive kits, loops and loop elements. A definitive party breaker library that I adore. Make some nice string arrangement adding this “Animal on percussive drums” moment and you will get a very fresh and strong combination that still fits into the classical cinematic genre, but adds some special raw and wild flavor. I found that loop elements work best for me. Loading two different loop elements, combining some looped hits with others, or just taking the short part of a loops, can help you build impressive loops that will follow your rhythmical ideas. Loop is playing as long as the note lasts, so this way you can use just a starting hit or two or the whole phrase.
That was in general why these two instruments, or library packs, ended in Cinemania. Now we can take a closer look at both libraries to discover what they hide under the Kontakt player’s roof.
Apocalypse Elements by Soundiron
Apocalypse comes with 4.5 GB of percussive content, over 4,500 samples recorded with a close mic. The whole library is divided into two main groups containing a few subgroups. One is Lite, the other is Master. Presets from the Lite section use around 50 % less RAM and contain exactly the same presets groups and subgroups as presented in the Master section.
Subgroups in every basic category are Megamixer, Standard and Tuned Dual layer. In every subgroup is one “All” preset, containing all percussive elements along with eight or nine other presets where every preset covers the full range of one specific kit’s elements, like Snare, Cymbals, Basses and Toms or even Ethnic Drums (you can’t make a percussion library without implementing Ethnic drums 😉 ).
Presets in the Megamixer directory offer some additional controllers for fine tuning every kit element separately defining tune, pan, velocity, pitch, range, release and range. Along with those we also have some global controllers, like Attack, Offset and Hi-Hat MIDI CC which is available only in the Cymbal preset.
Standard is standard, not much to say here. Same presets, only fewer controllers – Swell, Attack, Offset, Velocity and Humanize, which adds some velocity, pitch and subtle time variations to incoming notes.
Tuned Dual Layer presets come without the “All” preset, bringing only individual kit element presets where every instrument is chromatically tuned over the keyboard range. Lite version also comes with fewer Round-robin elements. All others are similar to the standard, at least regarding implemented controllers.
If we add to all those elements and kits a fact that there is also a MIDI Player available in every preset where we can choose one from over 400 MIDI drum clips specially crafted for this library, then programming this instrument or library becomes much more interesting. I didn’t have any problem playing this library just by banging my keyboard as velocity and responsiveness is absolutely well-tamed giving you the impression than you are almost some sort of virtuoso (great job, Mike). But this Transpose button in the MIDI Player window sparks my imagination and after playing with those Half and Double speed buttons I get some really interesting results.
If you are after some special sound treatment, then you can open a third menu with effects section where you can find a reverb with plenty of impulses, a flanger, compressor, distortion, preamp with additional cabinets and an equalizer. I was perfectly happy with all the kits just as they are so I just opened this window and closed it again.
If you need one basic, good sounding Orchestra percussion library then Apocalypse Elements is just the thing. Affordable library that sounds expensive and big.
More info and demo clips at:
Damage by Heavyocity
This one costs quite a bit more than Apocalypse, but it is worth every penny. It is so aggression obsessive that you should simply love it. For $299 USD you get 16 GB of material distributed for your needs directly from hell (at least it sounds so). Over 500 different hit elements are packed into this mighty library.
The whole content is again divided in two basic subgroups. Rhythmical Suites and Percussive kits.
In Rhythmical Suite we have two other main subcategories: Loop Menus and Single Loop. Presets from Loop Menus contain several different main loop presets and every main loop preset has three additional loop elements taken from that main loop preset. Every main loop preset contains a bunch of different percussive loops ranked over four octaves of a keyboard. Loop elements provide different elements taken from these loops, like just bass hits or some of the others, junk or barrel or any similar kit element, also ranked over the keyboard range. All presets from Loop Menus have the same set of controllers. We have up to four controllers for Distortion, LoFi, Reverb, Delay and Compressor, along with an Amp envelope set of controllers on the righthand side. Every loop is so specific and good as they are, so I didn’t tweak all those controllers very much, but it is always good to have them. There is also an Amp sequencer where we can browse between various gate sequence patterns through key switches. Under the Amp sequencer window we can also find Level, Pan and Tune. Actually, it’s just a starting point, as the main fun comes inside the T-FX window, where you can add various effects, Punch, Flanger, Rotator, Lo-Fi, Glitcher, Pitch and Filter envelope, along with Delay. Just by switching them on you can get some drastic changes, adding a bit of a spacey feel to all those trashy, dusty distorted loops. The next Ex-Filter windows bring some other nice things, like my favorite one – the Big Punish button, which adds some additional compression and distortion to already distorted loops. Left and right from the punish button are the equalizer and filter section, in case if you need to tame the low or high end. Again, I’m happy with the sound already, so this is just a “never used” addition.
Single loops have a similar set of controllers, the main difference is that separate loop hits are ranked over the keyboard as they are in REX files, and in the middle of the window is one big “MIDI to host” that allow us to drag MIDI files that allow us to play this loop as a REX file. So, you can change the loop by simply dragging notes up and down inside the loop, making new variations. Also, instead of the T-FX section with additional effects, single loops offer a Loop window where we can randomize loops on the fly by pressing one of the key-switches, changing on the the fly between different random settings. We should also mention that there is an almost endless number of those single loops inside different group of directories. I tried some of them, but didn’t have enough time to try more than a half of them.
We just passed through loops, but of course there is also a great number of various percussion kits inside this instrument/library. All kits are ranked inside several main directories. The first is the Epic-Organic kit directory, then we have Ethnic Drums, then Mallets, Hybrid FX hits and Damage kits. Some kits have just a few different kit elements while some others have far more than twenty different kit elements. They are all aggressive, mostly a bit distorted and quite unique and original.
No matter which kit you use, you will not be disappointed. They are quite different kits, from directory to directory, but you won’t find any ballast in there.
I know this is a personal opinion, but for me, this instrument library is essential for my production. All that noise and dirt, it sounds far different from any ordinary percussion library. I think that I have heard it in many Hollywood blockbusters. Not quite sure, but all those drums from Mad Max sounds so familiar to me. Trashcans, barrels, metal pots and all the other unusual things that were banged to produce this library is pure poetry to my ears, so loud and so dirty. Simply essential.
More info and some audio and video demo clips available at:
I know that I will probably get more percussion libraries in the future, but no matter, with these two I can live happily ever after, as they really do cover the full spectrum of percussion lines – from normal to abnormal.