27 years after joining thrash metal pioneers Anthrax, Charlie Benante finally gets his signature snare, one of Tama's artist-inspired and designed Signature Palette collection.
The 14"x6.5" shell is 1.2mm gauge polished stainless steel with a centre bead for strength. It's a single sheet, bent and welded with a vertical join, just visible on the interior. All the metal fittings - hoops, lugs, strainer - are plated in smoky grey-black nickel.
Hoops are Tama's StarCast die-moulded rims with 10 holes matching up with 10 double-ended bridge lugs which have rubber gaskets. Charlie tried aluminium and brass shells before settling on the stainless steel for its projection. However, he felt some of the more rakish high overtones needed subduing, while the sound could be a bit warmer, the decay more controlled.
He remembered seeing a steel drum with a black interior coating and this turned out to be the ideal solution. The interior is thus sprayed in matt black lacquer, although there was a slightly bare patch on the review drum.
Strainer-wise, Charlie's kept things simple with a standard Tama side-lever unit, which is unspectacular but does the job solidly. It's fitted with 20 Snappy steel snare wires and Snappy black fabric straps.
Rounding out the look is the distinctive Anthrax cartoon face badge along with Charlie's signature with 'Signature Palette' over crossed sticks.
Benante is revered for thundering his way through Anthrax tunes and this snare was made for the machine gun intro fills to 'A.I.R.' and the brutal fours onslaught that follows. But Anthrax's music is not just thrash and Benante, graphic artist and songwriter as well as blastbeat demon, is a diverse character.
Likewise, his signature drum is no one-trick pony. Of course it works for metal, but you'll find it at home in most rock configurations. We used it on a couple of classic-oriented pub gigs and we're sure most drummers would be happy taking it out on any rock stage. Yes, the superb stainless steel shell encourages you to play loud and open, but it is also sensitive.
We did resort to a little bit of damping on the near rim edge because the ding from rim shots and cross-sticks was a bit much from where we were sitting. Out front, mind you, listening to someone else play the drum, the ring was not that obtrusive, but helped the drum project even better.
There are lots of situations where you want that ring and this drum certainly has that powerful, modern, in-yer-face, who-cares-how- much-clang attitude.
The power made life easy. But sometime during the second gig we did find we weren't quite so comfortable on the more soulful tunes where something a bit less metallic might have been appropriate.