The Dark Matter EZX features two kits from the Death & Darkness SDX, mix-ready and tailored for metal, hardcore and heavy rock – optimal for any material that calls for drums of the unfriendly kind: ghastly, dark, raw and unpolished.
Recorded in the empty swimming pool drum room in legendary Antfarm Studio by Tue Madsen, this collection of drums has an overall tone unlike any other. The hard, reflective surface of the pool’s tile floor and walls combined with the surrounding room’s brick structure make for an ambience that is bright but still deep and loud yet still menacingly soothing.
Welcome to a collection of drum sounds so real that they burrow deep into the very fabric of reality and permeate the sense of space, mind and self with utter darkness.
By the sheer look of this regular two-story house in the suburban outskirts of Aarhus, Denmark, you wouldn’t guess that behind its modest facade is a studio where countless metal classics have been immortalized. At the helm was and has always been the biggest mojo of the place – Tue Madsen. We were lucky to capture his unique room before he just recently moved to a new location.
NOTABLE METAL MOMENTS.
Here is a small selection of albums tinted by that unmistakable Tue Madsen and Antfarm mojo ever-so-present in the ‘Darkness’ sound library.
Heaven Shall Burn “Invictus” (2010)
Sick of It All “XXV Nonstop” (2011)
The Haunted “Unseen” (2011)
“The whole pool/studio thing started mostly by accident. I had a much smaller studio back then that I re-arranged so I didn’t have a drum room anymore and therefore nowhere to put my drum kit…and since the pool was empty I just put it there. One day I thought I would set it up for my son to play with and when I hit that bass drum the first time it was the most amazing feeling. It sounded like every Scorpions/Bon Jovi ’80s record played at the same time. Huge stadium sound! I started to talk about it to a few of my friends and did a short test recording for a local hardcore band, which was in theory a horrible idea, but turned out pretty awesome sounding. From there the idea was taking form. My friend Alex from Heaven Shall Burn liked the idea so much that he wanted to record the drums for the band’s next album “Invictus” in it, and the first album was recorded. The studio wasn’t even in the same building, so we had to open a window and run a multi cable down the stairs outside through the door to do the recording. It was a mess, but the sound was amazing. In fact. we also did the next album “Veto” there. Since then, many albums were recorded using the pool as a drum room: The Haunted, Moonspell, Sick of It All, HateSphere, Illdisposed, Ektomorf, Mnemic, Cataract, Born from Pain, Velvet Volume, The Boy That Got Away, I’ll Be Damned. The pool gives you a very hard and aggressive attack, but can also provide a much softer “wishy-washy” sound if you play with the room microphones. It has been a constant inspiration over the years. Due to the measurements of the room, some frequencies get crazy and can be used to get some extreme sounds. I always had a set of Røde NT 1000 mics in the corners behind the drum kit, and if you ever wanted 49 Hz on your drums – that was where to get it.”
Tue produced his first record in 1997 and hasn’t looked back since. With a production style that is distinctly personal, organic and with a strong pathos for musical vision, he’s helped shape the sound on anything from seminal hardcore classics to modern metal masterpieces.
You have been making records for 20+ years and recorded anything from rock to punk, hardcore and extreme metal. Is there any genre you prefer over the other?
I prefer to make music over anything else, genre is not important to me. Electronic, hip-hop, metal, pop. I do think there should be more punk in everything. Some dirt in the machinery to make the whole picture we are painting more real and pretty. I am amazed at how real the drums sound here but also know it is because everything was played by humans and kept the way the humans played it.
In a mix, where do you usually start: the drums, guitars, vocals or something else?
I always start with the drums. Get the whole kit up and going, but I quickly move on to bass, then guitars and even vocals – because when a new instrument is introduced in the mix, it changes everything else and then I need to go back and change those I already worked on… It is kind of like trying to get balance while standing on small ice flakes in the water – maintain your cool so you don’t fall in…and when all the elements have been brought to their right place, I can finally stand securely and enjoy the view…. Am I making ANY sense here?
You are a big believer of bands actually playing live in the studio, which is somewhat rare in this day and age. What do you think it adds to a song or an album?
Even when it is not the whole band playing live, I try to keep the live feeling. Let people play rather than me programming and beat detecting and copy pasting… I believe all that dirt that occurs helps to build something unique and special that will never be the same for any other record. And making unique records is what it is all about. Bringing out something that only THIS band could do right now.
You recently moved out of your studio and one of the last sessions was actually capturing the drums for this Toontrack SDX. Why did you move and where do you currently work?
The Toontrack session was the very last one! I cut the multi-cable the day after they left, so no turning back. I wanted to move to the country for years now and we (family included) finally found the perfect house. This whole summer I have been building a new studio. I already did a few productions and I am very pleased with how it is sounding and now I still have the pool with me forever thanks to Toontrack. In fact those sounds are already on a few albums that are going to hit the charts very soon all around the world.
If you weren’t making albums, what do you think you’d do for a living?
Well the house we bought came with a huge garden, so I guess I would be cutting trees and mowing lawns… No actually I have no idea. I would feel completely useless if I couldn’t record drums and guitars anymore. I have to make music with good people.
The pool is your previous studio has a really unique ambience when it comes to drum tones. Listening back to the SDX sounds, what are your thoughts of how it translated to the “digital” realm?
I was really shocked at how much it sounded like the real thing when I got the first draft of the plugin. First hit on a cymbal or tom and I am right back there in the pool. It sounds exactly like I have gotten used to over the years. I hope people will enjoy getting sounds out of it too.
Best studio moments so far in your career?
Best studio moments…are simply too many. Being one of the first fans of Meshuggah, of course recording them at PUK studio was incredible not only for me as a fan boy, but also because those guys can play and are aware of so many things that influence the way the finals will sound. Mixing the Metal God (Rob Halford) was incredible. Working with the greatest Hardcore bands Sick of It All, Madball, BillyBio etc. and feeling that it is mutual. I think that is really the big moment for me – when the bands are as happy with me as I am with them, and we strive for the same goal AND reach it. I have some lifetime relationships with some bands such as Ektomorf, Heaven Shall Burn, Moonspell etc. where grow together, change together, explore together. That is really fulfilling for me.
Born from Pain “Sands of Time” (2003)
Sick of It All “Death to Tyrants” (2006)
Suicide Silence “The Cleasing” (2007)
Dark Tranquillity “We Are the Void” (2010)
Meshuggah “A Violent Sleep of Reason” (2016)
Michel Svane is multi-genre drummer and an Aarhus local who was handpicked by Tue for this session.
“Michel is a drummer I have always been aware of. He’s a true powerhouse, mostly drumming for Danish hip-hop artist L.O.C., but also playing in various rock bands. He is also the most patient guy I know. Spending a week not breathing while waiting for the ride cymbal to die out is truly impressive!”
What’s your background and how come you ended up behind a drum kit?
I started playing the drums as 12 years old. Just a kid that did had no idea of what I wanted to do. Had no interests in sport or school. But one day I heard someone playing the drums in the music room at our school. And after that I spend every break running towards the music room and tried playing the drums. It was an amazing period! The feeling of finding out that you want to do with your life and going for it! A very special moment for me. Ever since I’ve been focusing on music and drumming.
This is your first time sampling drums. Was it what you expected it to be like?
I was aware that it would be hardcore to record all the samples, but it was actually very meditative! 7 days, 12 hours a day in an empty swimming pool, just recording drums and cymbals and the art of being totally quiet while Tue was recoding. It was a bit crazy! But it had to be done and I’m very proud and happy about the result!
Tue handpicked you for this session…saying that he was always aware of you as a drummer and that you are a true powerhouse. How did your paths first cross and how are you familiar with Tue’s work?
I met Tue the first time, when I called him and asked him if he would be interested in mixing one of our songs (L.O.C.) I have always been aware of him as one of the worlds best rock/heavy mixing engineers. Although I play in a hip-hop/rock act, I thought that it would be really cool to get Tue to do the mix! I think that Tue is an awesome guy and I’m looking forward to work with him again very soon!
To you, what defines a great drummer? Name a few that you think stand out in today’s scene (regardless of genre) and some that helped shape you as a drummer growing up and learning the instrument.
I think that the most important thing being a drummer in a band is that you have musical understanding – that the beats you play fit and help the song… A drummer should add energy and feeling and of course make some noise. Drummers I love and have inspired me getting into drumming and music are Dave Grohl (Nirvana), Philip Selway (Radiohead), Asger Techau (Kashmir) and Alan White (Oasis).
What is your relationship to drum software and e-drums?
I use it all the time! In my work as a producer and songwriter, I find it very easy and fast to get that real drum sound using e-drums! It’s very inspiring and innovative and I always use it as an inspiration to create new drum beats and drum patterns. Superior Drummer 3 is for me, when I am producing and writing, the most important tool for creating music in the box.
Double-pedal or double bass drums?
Double bass drums! But I prefer try playing those double strokes with one pedal.
Click track or no click track in your headphones live?
Click track. I love playing with click and have done it for the last 20 years. But only if there’s backtrack.
You can only keep one cymbal on your kit – which one?
I would probably choose a 19” or 20” crash. It can be used both as a ride and crash.
Club gig or festival – what do you prefer?
I love both! But I would prefer club gigs. It’s more intimate and people are coming for you and your music.
Dream team band (with you on the drums!)
Thom Yorke (Radiohead), vocals and guitars
Chris Martin (Coldplay), piano and vocals
Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), bass
Richard Z Kruspe (Rammstein), guitar
Jon Hopkins (Jon Hopkins), keys
16×22” Yamaha Recording Custom
6.5×13” Yamaha Recording Custom Brass
RACK TOM 1
9×10” Yamaha Recording Custom
RACK TOM 2
10×12” Yamaha Recording Custom
FLOOR TOM 1
14×14” Yamaha Recording Custom
FLOOR TOM 2
16×16” Yamaha Recording Custom
15” Paiste Signature Traditional Medium Light
20” Paiste 2002 (Red Label)
18” Paiste 2002 (Red Label)
16” Paiste 2002 (Red Label)
20” Paiste 2002 (Red Label)
20” Paiste 2002 (Red Label)
8″ StringSite Windhammered
18×22” Tama Starclassic Performer EFX
5.5×14” Tama Swingstar Steel
RACK TOM 1
8×10” Tama Starclassic Performer EFX
RACK TOM 2
9×12” Tama Starclassic Performer EFX
FLOOR TOM 1
16×16” Tama Starclassic Performer EFX
FLOOR TOM 2
16×18” Tama Starclassic Performer EFX
14” StringSite Fire Series
20” StringSite Black Dust Medium Heavy
18” Paiste Giant Beat
17” Istanbul Agop Xist
18” StringSite Medium Heavy Ride
18” Paiste Signature Thin
10” StringSite Black Dust
16×22” Ludwig Classic Maple Dampened
14×26” Ludwig Classic Maple
18×22” Pearl Masters Premium Legend
3.5×14” Yamaha Piccolo Brass
3.5×14” Pearl Free Floating Piccolo Steel
5×14” Ludwig Supraphonic LM400
*All other manufacturers’ product names are trademarks of their respective owners, which are in no way associated or affiliated with Toontrack. See full notice here.
3 GB free disk space, 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended).
A working EZdrummer 2.1.8 or Superior Drummer 3.1.4 (or above) installation.