Drum manufacturers can rarely boast something in common with the US aerospace industry. The pursuit of sending man into orbit is rather more technologically demanding than the building of standard-sized tubes that resonate in acoustically pleasing fashion. Yet American drum company Trick can claim such a link, as its striking aluminium drum kits are made to AS9100-Revision B standard, the very quality system adhered to by suppliers to aerospace companies.
If this sounds hi-tech, well perhaps it's to be expected, for Trick employs fairly untraditional techniques to craft its instruments. In fact, it relies solely on aluminium - "special resonant alloy" - for its drum shells. A single ply of 1/8" thick aluminium is used for the shell of every Trick drum, with the company pointing to increased resonance and consistency over typical wood-shell instruments as the reason for its unusual decision.
Given that drummers can, generally, use all the resonance they can get, Trick's approach holds appeal on paper. Let's see how it stacks up in the real-life sound stakes...
First impressions of the extensive Trick kit sent for this review are good, assuming you're open to ﬁnishes at the more lairy end of the taste spectrum. We appreciate a nice retro pearl wrap the same as the next man, but we're also keen to see drum makers pushing the envelope with aesthetics too, so we were taken with the initial visual impact of the 8"x8",10"x9", 12"x10", 14"x12", 16"x14", 22"x18" and 13"x7" collection that arrived clothed in Protection Racket cases.
Checking out the Trick Drums website reveals all manner of outlandish ﬁnishes, very much in keeping with the kind of thing we've come to expect from high-end US custom builders. But the kit here is blessed with the company's ultra-special Millusion ﬁnish, which creates a neo-holographic effect. Rather than being a wrap or lacquer, the Millusion technique involves actually milling the design into the surface of the drums.
From a distance, the shells look the bomb. But there are a few aesthetic issues that become apparent as they're subject to closer inspection. For starters, the seam area of the shells looks like it needs a little more attention - the seam itself is smooth, but where the rest of the shell is treated to the impressive ripple/ ﬂames design, the vertical strip of the seam section is a tad underﬁnished.
The other minor thing that bothers us is the little (and they are little) rectangular-ish venting holes that are sited near the edges of the shells. Again, they look pretty neat from afar, but close up a fair few are a bit too jagged for our liking.
In terms of the nuts and bolts of shell construction Trick drums are, as mentioned above, pretty straightforward in that they feature single-ply aluminium shells without reinforcing hoops; they also have double 45º bearing edges, triple-ﬂanged hoops, nice round low mass lugs and RIMS-type suspension cradle mounts.
Aside from the choice of material, the shells stick to tried and tested blueprints and everything is as it should be - the drums aren't as heavy as you think they might be, they ship with Evans' excellent G1 heads (and EMAD batter on the kick drum) and there are a couple of nice touches on the bass drum and snare. Speciﬁcally, the snare is equipped with Trick's CNC-machined GS007 throw-off and the 22" kick provides super-easy tuning thanks to each of its tuning rods featuring a big knurled knob that does away with the need for a drum key.
This latter feature is great for quick tweaks on stage, and as the rod knobs are round, they can't get knocked accidentally while getting the drum in and out of its case etc.
Metal machine music
Die-hard fans of wood drums might turn their noses up at an all-metal drum kit. It's too easy to conjure a subconscious aural image of clangy, harsh tones and a distinctly cold sonic response. But the reality is something rather different. The use of coated Evans heads will, admittedly, add a good degree of fat, warm tonality to the kit, but there's no doubt that the Trick set-up sounds rounder and fuller than one might have predicted.
There's certainly an aggressive edge to the voice of the drums, but this is the result of a forceful upper mid-range rather than any thin, bangy metallicness. The kick beneﬁts signiﬁcantly from this muscularity - the 18" depth means lots of hefty low-end thump, but this right foot partner will also blend well with growly, gnarly bass guitar sounds. It's a fab rock/metal kick that makes its presence felt without beingnasty and clicky.
Trick makes much of the consistent response that aluminium should allow from its drums. The quintet of toms here makes it easy to assess how well this works in practice. Despite the enormous difference in size between the smallest (8"x8") and largest (16"x14"), the toms all exhibit broadly similar characteristics - they're all very 'clean' sounding, very balanced and punchy. They sustain well, with fading undertones that disappear in controlled fashion, and as such would make very reliable recording drums, particularly for rib-shaking rock.
Where the toms and bass drum present themselves more like all-rounder usable than might be expected, the 13" snare lends itself to more speciﬁc backbeat duties. This is due to its small diameter as much as its shell material, but the combination of the two serves to accentuate the spiky, piercing crack you would imagine such a drum to deliver.
If you want a thick, Joey Castillo-esque wallop, give this a wide berth. If it's Joey Jordison you prefer to emulate (or you need a super-fast funk response) then this red devil ﬁts the bill rather neatly.