BY AJ DONAHUE
It’s always darkest (and driest, since we’re talking cymbals) before the dawn. Dark, dry, and dusty cymbal sounds have been one of the hotter trends du decade, but several new lines released at this year’s NAMM show indicate a shift back toward the lighter side.
Now, for the most part, we’re not talking about supernova-level bright. Instead, we’re seeing more of a gentle shift back toward bigger and bolder tones with some sheen on top. Take Paiste’s reintroduction of select models from its acclaimed Signature series, for example. Forged from the company’s iconic Signature alloy (a proprietary mixture most closely resembling a B12 alloy), the resurrected Signature set includes the 22” Full ride; a 20” Mellow ride; 19” and 20” Fast crashes; 17”, 18”, and 19” Mellow crashes; and 15” Dark Energy hi-hats. Tones trend from tight and dry-ish but with some ping (Dark Energy hats), to bright and cutting (Full ride) in an attempt to offer a versatile palette of sounds for today’s working player.
Teased a few weeks before the actual NAMM show, Meinl’s new Byzance Foundry Reserve line still features some of the darker, more complex tones that have dominated cymbal design sensibilities for some time, but also adds a healthy dose of robust richness to make each model more suitable for a variety of settings. These are B20 alloy, Turkish cymbals, hand-hammered in the old-world tradition, but supplemented with a dose of modern color and projection. Meinl is rolling out the series with 14” and 15” hats, an 18” crash, 20” and 22” rides, and 20” and 22” Light rides.
Finally, TRX Cymbals is really upping the amperage with the introduction of its new ICE series. The Turkish-made cymbals all weigh in at medium-heavy weights, and sport micro-lathing as well as the company’s highly polished Diamond Finish, resulting a selection of modern, cutting tones created to handle higher volume and intensity. But the incorporation of Turkish alloy and build techniques imbue each piece with a musicality uncommon among heavier instruments. ICE cymbals are available in a full complement of sizes and models, including hats, rides, crashes, splashes, Chinas, and effects cymbals.