If BFA could make a TV ad for this sample collection, they would probably have it narrated by the late movie trailer maestro Don LaFontaine, saying something like, "In a world of laid-back percussion, Epic Drums II changed everything, forever!”
Indeed, the 5GB of multi-formatted drum samples and loops are squarely aimed at composers working on big and impressive cinematic scores requiring a'high-energy' feel. Individual drum hits are not necessarily high energy in themselves, but the content is arranged into 38 construction kits that encourage the user to combine fast and energetic sample loops to form even more energetic compositions.
Each kit folder contains a master WAV performance, which includes all of the kit's individual samples playing together. Seasoned arrangers may only use them to get an overview of the kit's contents, but budding composers will find them rather useful for learning how to assemble the array of individual samples. Although these example compositions seem to be drowning in reverb, the samples and loops themselves are unprocessed, which is preferable from a compositional view point.
What is most notable about the content is its bias towards eastern — and specifically Chinese — sampled instruments, which have become part of the modern vernacular of fast-paced action movies. Clearly, there is the crude association with martial arts, but, more importantly, their sound doesn't tend to dominate the visuals — like a rock drum kit might — even when they're played fast and hard. Staccato flurries on single instruments and ensembles feature heavily in most kits, and these are particularly well suited for use over chase sequences and battle preparation scenes.
For a typical sample library, 38 construction kits is a lot, but what is more impressive about Epic Drums II is the number of samples in each kit. Usually, you can expect somewhere between six and 20 per kit but, by my estimate, Epic Drums II averages 30 to 40. Practically speaking, this means that there are plenty of options open to the composer, in terms of both instruments and pattern variations.
Outside the kits, there is a folder of bonus material arranged according to sample type. Far from being surplus to requirements, some of the content is very handy. There are all sorts of drum and timpani rolls, low-frequency rumbles, instrument single hits (there are 518 instrument one-shots alone) and special effects created on acoustic instruments such as the bowed gong.
As far as cinematic drums are concerned, this collection is not the be-all and end-all. There are plenty more effects and sounds to be had from the very same instruments, but for the purposes of providing high-energy material for big productions, Epic Drums II delivers convincingly. Tom Flint