Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars
Naroth Audio are a relatively new LA‑based sample library company formed by composers with the intention of creating tools for composers. I was very impressed with their first release, Rhythmus, when reviewing it in the July 2021 issue. As well as releasing some add‑on preset packs for Rhythmus, Naroth have also been working on other products, including the subject of this review, titled Alloy Vol I.
Like Rhythmus, this is something of a niche instrument. It’s built from detailed sampling of chromatically tuned metal discs. In use, the tones are reminiscent of instruments such as chromatic orchestral percussion, hang drums, steel drums and tubular bells but, with four different mallet types/articulations on offer — wool, rubber, stick and muted — and some very effective sound‑shaping controls available within the UI, you can actually coax quite a wide range of sounds from the instrument.
The included presets demonstrate that for the main instrument, but the package also includes a suite of separate ‘curated’ presets, presented via a more compact UI, and which provide a complementary set of pads, pulses, basses, sound effects and drum kits.
The main UI is stylish but easy to navigate with panels of controls for adjusting the articulation, adding various types of overdrive/distortion, a flexible filter, convolution reverb, more conventional reverb, delay and chorus effects and a two‑band EQ. You can also toggle to a Sequencer screen with a simple (but effective) step sequencer/arpeggiator that offers up to 32 steps, various tempo sync rates and a range of playback modes. Perhaps my only wish is that the sequencer had its own preset system. Maybe that’s something for a future update?
The core sounds of Alloy Vol 1 manage to be both beautiful and hypnotic. I can easily imagine these being used in child‑like (music box?) music cues, evoking an instant sense of travel in parts of Asia, or providing gentle arpeggios for music designed to meditate to. However, with a few suitable clicks in the UI, you can also go to ominous, scary and creepy. Media composers looking to create a sense of child‑like horror or subtle tension will find plenty of possibilities here. Add in the additional curated presets and it’s an intriguing combination that could easily produce full musical cues.
Naroth Audio obviously do their thing with some style; Alloy Vol I is an excellent, if specialised, virtual instrument. It might not be for everyone, but film/TV composers will love it. It is sensibly priced and well worth auditioning.