Tempest is a small custom shop in northern Germany that recently began offering its own versions of the highly coveted cast-bronze snare. A 6.5×14 drum was released back in 2014, but last year the company went all-in with an enormous 8×14 model. We were sent one of these beautiful monsters to review, so let’s check it out.
The shells of Tempest’s Bell Bronze snares are cast exclusively for the company in an old, traditional German bell foundry. The metal is GBZ 12 bronze, which is known for being incredibly tough and resistant to corrosion. The shell is seamless and 3mm thick. The drum is outfitted with a polished chrome Trick three-position GS007 throw-off, solid chrome-over-brass tube lugs, stainless-steel tension rods with plastic washers, triple-flange steel hoops, and twenty-strand phosphor bronze wires.
Our review drum came with an Evans G1 Coated batter head and a clear Snare Side 300 on bottom. The bearing edges are shaped to forty-five degrees with rounded counter cuts. The bottom edge is cut a little sharper and has less counter cut than the top, to increase snare response. The snare beds are carved fairly wide and flat to ensure that the wires sit flush with the drumhead.
The drum is super hefty, weighing in just shy of twenty pounds. (For a point of reference, a 6.5×14 3-ply walnut/mahogany drum we had at the office at the same time weighed only seven pounds.)
Contrary to what you may think, 8″-deep snares tend to produce more focused and controlled tones when compared to shallower drums, while providing a lot of headroom for higher volumes. Thick bell-bronze shells are revered for producing the dense, thick “smack” often associated with modern rock and metal snare tones. Marrying those two characteristics into one drum, Tempest has produced something very special with the 8×14 Bell Bronze.
This drum had incredible sensitivity from the edge to the center, and it had nearly limitless tuning capability. The shell rang out with a big, pure, open voice, but the overtones were perfectly balanced and died off quickly and evenly. The attack was super punchy and powerful, which gave the drum a very modern, pre-processed sound.
While capable of producing a wide range of useful sounds, I felt that the Tempest 8×14 Bell Bronze outrivaled many others when tuned medium-tight and higher. It was in those registers where we found a near-perfect blend of snappy attack, rich overtone, and chesty punch. While Tempest’s 8×14 Bell Bronze might be best suited for hard-hitting, aggressive playing styles, it also did the dark, moody thing very well when detuned and hit dead center. We didn’t need to use any muffling to tame overtones, even when the batter head was tensioned in the often troubling medium-low and low registers. While it carries a hefty price tag (approximately $1,890), Tempest’s 8×14 Bell Bronze is about as good as it gets in its class and could potentially absorb the workload of several metal-shell snares.