Review: Decimator Drums from Audio Imperia


Audio Imperia have done it again! Decimator Drums delivers that god-of-thunder-chest-punch sound that trailers and cinematic composers crave. The library should come with a warning sign: “It’s going to get loud in here!”

Jump to the Demos of Decimator Drums

Jump to the Videos of Decimator Drums


Review: Decimator Drums from Audio Imperia

Audio Imperia have done it again with the launch of yet another great line of boutique instruments called Blockbuster Percussion, the first entry being Decimator Drums. I must say that Decimator Drums should come with a warning sign that “It’s going to get loud in here!” All kidding aside, Decimator Drums has that God of Thunder, “chest punch” presence that today’s working composer will find essential to keep their trailers and cinematic scores sounding fresh and alive.

That may all sound like some fancy marketing hype and well, it probably could be but it’s my humble opinion. If you are looking for cinematic thunder and over the top brutal percussion that hits hard and fast, Decimator Drums is your new go-to studio weapon. There is nothing at all that is gentle about this beast.

Audio Imperia was kind enough to pass on a special link and Discount Code for SLR viewers. Use this link and discount code “CUZUROCK” an save an additional 10% OFF your entire Audio Imperia order at check out.

While the library is on intro price ($119) and you can grab it for $107.10 (reg $159) with our link and code till April 24, 2017.

Decimator Drums sells for $159 from Audio Imperia


Decimator Drums was produced by Martin Hasseldam and is the first entry in Audio Imperia’s new Blockbuster Percussion series. In order to deliver the kind of hard hitting sound required for action packed trailers and cinematic scores, Decimator Drums is focused on the use of ensemble drums. Eighteen drums per ensemble to be precise. The Epic Drum Ensemble (Kick, Tom, Snare, Click and Clack) was recorded using different combinations of drums, blocks, sticks and beaters. I have included all of the specific details in the Facts section below.

In addition to the Epic Ensemble Drum kit, there are 20 Designed Kits that run the gamut from Bit Crushed and Glitch to Echo Dripping Booms and Mangled Beats. If that’s not enough, there are 26 curated Loops and a Bonus Extra section that contains Atonal FX, Tonal FX, Risers and Arps. There are some real gems in here that will surely find their way into your next trailer. I must add that my favorite of the Extras content is the “Death Note” which immediately evokes an image of the tripods from War of the Worlds.

For this latest Audio Imperia release, the new standard interface takes on a more hardcore look to match the commanding sonics on offer.

Let’s dig in further.

If you own any of the recently released libraries from Audio Imperia, the layout of the interface will be familiar. If not, it should be very intuitive to learn in short order. The Main page is divided into essentially three sections with the top being Volume, Pan, Big Knob, Attack and Release. The center section identifies the Sample being played and also contains controls to Pitch the samples and a Sample Start control to change the location in the sample where the playback starts. The bottom section is devoted to LP (low pass), EQ and HP (high pass) controls to sculpt the sound for your desired need. Each section that you want to use to affect the sound needs to be turned on by clicking on it. This is all really straightforward. In order to further refine your sound you will want to move into the Effects page.

This is where things get interesting. Decimator Drums has a very powerful Step Modulator that offers you four Volume, four Pan, one HP and one LP modulator which are accessible via keyswitch and can be used in any combination that you would like. I found some of the panning combinations to be quite cool and unique. You can define the Step Count, Frequency and Intensity as well.

My only criticism here is that I would like to be able to latch the modulators as using some combos are a bit difficult to play. Audio Imperia has informed me that they are in fact addressing this already in their next update currently in progress. You can save your Step Modulator values as an nka and the recall when you need it. From the Step Modulator page, you can access my favorite function in the Audio Imperia libraries – The Big Knob.

The Big Knob is, in my opinion, the heart and soul of the sound sculpting capabilities here. You can mix and match your choice of Insert FX using the Big Knob with Compressor, Distortion, Lo-Fi, Rotator, Chorus, Flanger and Phaser by simply clicking the drop- down and then turning on the chosen FX by clicking the Power icon.

The Big Knob is in my opinion the heart and soul of the sound sculpting capabilities here.

The FX option selected will offer a different set of controls based on which one you select that allows you to refine your sound and I must say that I continue to be impressed by the capabilities of the Big Knob FX shaping, as I am normally not a fan of using internal FX and will routinely mix “in the room” with a set of premium plugins. In contrast, I am not sure that you could achieve these results any other way. The sound is amazing and the choices in the palette are pretty unlimited when you start to dig into refining a sound. You can also save your favorite creations here as an nka file and load it at a later time to use with a different patch.

In addition to using the Big Knob to control Insert FX and dialing in their depth, you also have the ability to use those same seven Insert FX on the Inserts/Sends page. Here you can also add Reverb and Delay in the Sends. This is probably where I would defer to my external plugins – not to say that there is anything wrong here as they are quite adequate, but compared with the allure of using FX with the Big Knob, I can easily replace these in my mix.

The 20 Designed Kits follow the same interface flow as the other patches, but give you a variety of ready-made kits that have been tweaked to provide an array of sonic delights from gritty and mangled hits to bit-crushed and lo-fi kits to dark and boomy sounds that’ll push you backwards at high volumes. This is a starting point for you to really find your sound or create your own. I should note that all of the kits and loops in the library are tempo-locked to your DAW which is a really nice capability.My experience with time stretching them yielded generally positive results.

Bryan Leach created some great bonus content for the library which is found in the Loops and Extra folders. Loops gives you 26 sets of loops that were created from the original content to help jumpstart your compositions. The great thing here is that by using the keyswitches you can play either the full loop or individual stems in order to roll your own. You can also use the keyswitches for the FX to apply the ten Step Mod FX to the Loop. There is a good variety here in the content but again heavily focused on the fast paced hard hitting action genre.

The Extra folder contains patches for Atonal FX, Tonal FX, Risers and Arps. I really enjoyed playing through the Atonal and Tonal FX.

There are so many ready-made sounds that you can drop right into a trailer or score.

As I mentioned at the beginning, my favorite was the “Death Note”. To give you some sense – and not necessarily to name drop, think of the sound effects in the epic scenes from the Avengers, Transformers, Star Wars, Terminator and a plethora of others. You can also make these sounds your own by twisting and  tweaking them. That said, you have one heck of a head start.

While Decimator Drums is aimed directly at the Action or Sci-Fi genres for cinema and trailer work in general, there are also some interesting possibilities to create unique sound effects that I see being used in a diverse body of work. That is not the primarily selling point, but if you are on board for the product itself, you have some really great bonus options.

I am quite impressed with the sound quality of Decimator Drums and think that the sampling quality and combination with the Audio Imperia interface including the near legendary (in my studio, anyway) Big Knob and the FX capabilities to shape the sound are top flight. One thing to note is that while the sound can be dialed up to be in-your-face aggressive, Decimator Drums still maintains the headroom in the spectrum and leaves plenty of space for the other sounds in your mix. I do think that as a whole, Audio Imperia have succeeded in their quest to create a new secret weapon for the composer who needs that “God of Thunder” sound for their next trailer or score.

As always, please check out the audio and video demos with the links provided below to make sure that this is the right tool for your unique needs.


Decimator Drums downloads and installs at 2.19 GB and requires a full Native Instruments Kontakt or higher license. Native Instruments Kontakt Player is not supported. All Loops and Bonus Shots were created by Bryan Leach at Audio Imperia. All Drums were recorded with a pair of AKG C414 XLII microphones in a mid/side configuration in a closed studio. There are four main components to the library:
• Ensemble Drums (10 Velocity Layers, 6 Round Robin)
• Designed Kits (20 Designed Kits)
• Loops (26 Loops and the individual stems)
• Extra (109 Atonal FX, 39 Tonal FX, 10 Risers, 6 Arps)
Kick 1: 18 bass drums with sticks
Kick 2: 18 damped bass drums with plastic beaters
Toms low: 18 floor toms with sticks
Toms mid: 18 mid toms with sticks
Toms high: 18 high toms with sticks
Snares: 18 snares with sticks
Clicks: 18 sticks and small woodblocks
Clacks: 18 bass drums and toms kettles with sticks

The drums were recorded in three segments and then layered and mixed together (three players playing two drums each, 3×6=18).

Audio Imperia was kind enough to pass on a special link and Discount Code for SLR viewers. Use this link and discount code “CUZUROCK” an save an additional 10% OFF your entire Audio Imperia order at check out.

Decimator Drums sells for $159 from Audio Imperia


Demos of Decimator Drums

Videos of Decimator Drums