Vinnie Paul turned heads in 2008 when he announced his switch from long-time collaborators Pearl to relative new kid on the block, ddrum. The Pantera/Damageplan/Hellyeah powerhouse used to play a snakeskin-finished Pearl signature snare, and it was a fair bet that ddrum would cater to Vinnie's unique snare drum needs before long.
Resplendent in carbon-effect wrap with pearlescent dragon inlays, and gloss black with spiked lugs (although these face-off lugs allow the spikes to be unscrewed and changed for other, more subtle options), Vinnie's ddrum signature snares aren't for the shy and retiring, but are they all 'biker jacket and no knickers'? Let's take a look…
Both snare drums share the same fundamentals: a six-ply USA maple shell that's 14" in diameter and a gargantuan 8" deep; both have the revised metal version of the much-maligned Nickelworks snare strainer and Remo UT heads. But that's about all they have in common.
Though we hesitate to characterise the black drum as the less visually arresting of the pair, it's clear that the carbon-effect wrapped drum grabs your eye. Ringed by flames top and bottom beneath the matt/satin finish die-cast hoops, the wrap features Japanese-style dragons that look like pearl inlays, but are in fact photo-quality prints, modelled after Vinnie's famous hat.
Twenty double-point 'bullet' lugs complete the ensemble. The other drum has a gloss black wrap and triple-flanged hoops, preferring instead to let its 20 large spiked lugs do the talking.
Both of these bad boys weigh in at the heavyweight end of things, the die-casts and spiked lugs increasing mass on each maple shell. Somewhat curiously for drums meant to rock, ddrum has specced single-ply Ambassador equivalent heads, which are found wanting when you begin to lay into the drums - the single-ply heads producing overtones which distract from the fundamental tone. An Emperor X would no doubt cure this, however.
As expected, the die-casts add a controlling influence to the one drum, but perhaps because they're thinner than some hoops they never choke the drum's resonance. More interestingly, the mass of the spiked lugs appears to calm the other drum somewhat - perhaps spikes and die-casts would be the ideal combination?
The Nickelworks throw is functional, if not as smooth as the Dunnett or Trick equivalents. The sharp bearing edges allow for a reasonably wide tuning range - although, let's face it, you're going to crank these beasts!