When I compared Toontrack's Superior Drummer 2 with FXpansion's BDF2, my one quibble was its relatively small number of instruments. However, two expansion packs have since been released: New York Studios and, reviewed here, The Metal Foundry (TMF). There are no prizes for guessing the musical target, and TMF comes exactly 10 years after Toontrack's first 'rawk' orientated drum product, Drumkit From Hell.
Seven complete kits have been sampled for this pack and, by careful choice of kit and microphone combinations, they've been designed to cover ground from late '60s Zeppelin‑esque classic rock to Slipknot‑like nu‑metal, with stops along the way for Kiss, Iron Maiden and Metallica. As you might expect, the attention to detail is exemplary: the full install requires 35GB of drive space and uses some 300,000 individual samples, although you can choose from a number of more compact installation options. As with other SD2 kits, multiple mics are offered for kick and snare, various overhead mic positions are available, and the bleed level between mics can be controlled. So it's just like working with a recording of a real kit.
The end result of this detailed sampling is fabulous. There are enough sonic differences between the various kits to provide some variety, but as they're all top‑notch acoustic drum kits, depending on how you mix them they could just as easily find a place in other musical styles. The key factor, of course, is how they're played, and once you've registered, a sizeable collection of MIDI loops can be downloaded from Toontrack's web site. There are some more 'vanilla' loops amongst this lot, but the up‑tempo beats really do show off the samples in their intended genre. There's some great playing, displaying both subtle snare work and head‑crushing kick performances (although generally not at the same time!). It's difficult to imagine a non‑drummer being able to program anything that would approach the quality on offer here, and all the building blocks (intros, fills, variations and so on) required to build a complete performance are provided.
If you already own SD2, the Metal Foundry will provide an excellent source of new drum sounds that, while aimed at rock styles, would easily work in other contexts. Both the quality and quantity of the samples included in this expansion pack make it excellent value for money. If you don't already own SD2, but classic and modern rock is your thing, then the combination of SD2, the excellent Metal Foundry samples and the equally good MIDI performances is something I'd recommend highly to all rock and metal heads. John Walden