Sabian Leopard Cymbals
As music itself becomes increasingly categorised so has the equipment used to create it and what could be more appropriate to the Heavy Metal drummer than heavy metal cymbals? This trend was established three years ago when Paiste introduced their Rude series, which made up for a marked lack of tonal quality with plenty of basic volume. These were cymbals for guys whose idea of fun would be to get their heads into the bass bins at a Motorhead gig.
It's the hammering that develops a cymbal's individual tone and the Leopard series is unlathed, like the Zildjian Z series, and is hand-hammered, like Sabian's prestige HH range.
The 14in hi-hats are, like all the Leopard cymbals, loud. Open them up slightly, apply a large stick playing fours in the manner of 'Whatever You Want' and all you need is the rest of Quo to get head-bangers going half a mile away. No need for the microphone with these babies. Surprisingly this doesn't mean that they have no tonal quality. If they lack the subtle colours of the HH they are brighter and more responsive than the Rude.
The 12in splash is actually no such thing. Its density makes it a kind of mini-ride when played mid-cymbal with stick tip and a small Chinese when played edge on with stick shoulder. Also creates a beautiful bell sound. Its size makes it extremely adaptable to any set up and I want one.
The 16in and 18in crashes are ideally suited to wake the dead (those on the guest list), and make mincemeat of those bits at the end of the song where you beat seven bells out of the cymbals and bass drum waiting for the guitarist to finish showing off. Each cymbal has plenty of decay but also an inevitable bonk as the stick strikes. You can't make cymbals this thick without paying some sort of sonic price.
If the crashes are loud then the 18 Chinese is unbearable. It's break out the ear-defenders time. I've never heard a name brand Chinese to compare with those that come from the land of the chopstick and occasional Wham! gig. They come in all sizes from 12in to 24in, and out of towners can lash out on an Awayday safe in the knowledge that they'll still have cash to spare on the way home.
The 22in ride, however, is an absolute beauty. If the sheer mass of the Chinese makes it unpleasantly loud and lacking in tone (a result of the way it must be played with the stick shoulder) this is a heavyweight with a knockout punch. The dead ping of the stick tip almost took my breath away and no amount of speedy playing could induce the build-up of humming overtones that plague many a ride. I found it an unreserved delight to play and to listen to.
Cuckoo in the nest is the peculiar 16in Roctagon. It's a regular lathed cymbal in a brilliant-coated finish which has been cut into an eight-sided novelty item from what looks to have once been an 18. This means that the cut has been made about two-thirds of the way across its outer curve and it looks like a stick-breaker if ever I've seen one. Mind you it sounded surprisingly good. Sharper than the Leopard equivalent if not (of course) as loud.
More than in any other area of kit drumming, cymbal choice is a matter of personal taste. The highly polished, bronzed finish of the Leopard range is unquestionably distinctive, attractive and indicative of manufacturing quality. These cymbals are expensive but should last years, even in the hands of the most aggressive basher. Those crashes are best suited to the Loudmen. I think a good kit is a balanced one and that means volume as well as tone, so do be careful.
Review by Andy Duncan
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