Watch Lauten Audio uncannily recreate Metallica’s Black Album drum sound with the original kit, at LA’s One on One studios where the album was recorded

Lars Ulrich might receive way more than his fair share of bashing from other musicians, and while the St. Anger snare drum sound will never cease to divide opinion (or perhaps unite it for the wrong reasons), one thing that isn’t up for debate is that Lars’ drum sound on Metallica’s self-titled/Black Album is a benchmark for heavy drum sounds. Now, microphone manufacturer Lauten Audio has set about recreating the sound from scratch using the original kit, in the same live room Metallica tracked in. Luckily for us, it documented the whole process.

Lauten Audio recreating Metallica Black Album drum sound

(Image credit: Lauten Audio/YouTube)

Recorded over months between 1990 and 1991 at LA’s One on One studios, the end result is a monstrous-sounding kit, and as we find out in the video, it’s the combination of great drums, expertly engineered in a very special room. Oh, and Lars’ playing might have had more than just a little to do with it.

At the core of the sound is, of course, are the drums. It’s well known that Lars’ use of the Tama Bell Brass snare on the Black Album helped to cement that drum’s status as the finest snare for rock and metal since the Ludwig Black Beauty. 

Lars and the band hired the drums for the Black Album sessions from the legendary Drum Doctors (Ross Garfield), who provided a huge nine-piece setup comprising the Tama Bell Brass, with the rest of the kit formed out of ’80s Gretsch shells. 

The full setup comprised a pair of Gretsch 24”x16” bass drums (finished in Walnut stain), and six toms ranging from 12”x10, 13”x11”, 14”x12” and 16”x14” rack toms (yes, those last two were suspended!), and an 18”x16” floor tom.

Lauten Audio recreating Metallica Black Album drum sound

(Image credit: Lauten Audio/YouTube)

For Lauten’s video, Garfield – who still owns the kit – provided the exact drums Lars played over 30 years ago, and remained on hand to achieve the same tunings as used on the original recordings. 

Black Album assistant engineer, Mike Tacci, who helped Randy Staub and producer Bob Rock capture the cavernous sound in the ’90s advises on the placement of the drums in the room, as well as revealing that part of the secret to the black Albums huge, thumping tom sound comes from double mic’ing (a mic placed on the batter and resonant sides of each tom), as well as the cavernous-sounding live room.

Grammy award-winning producer/engineer, Darrell Thorp – whose day job is based at Foo Fighters’ Studio 606 – oversees the recording, while Puscifer/A Perfect Circle drummer, Gunnar Olsen does a great job of replicating Lars’ style for the recording.

Of course, as much fun as this is for those involved, there is another reason Lauten went to the effort of this exercise. Yesterday, the mic brand launched its new Tom Mic - a dedicated large diaphragm microphone designed specifically for capturing toms. 

For more information on the Lauten Audio Tom Mic, click here.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.