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With their new Signature Bronze series, the cymbal wizards at Paiste escalate their move toward drum manufacturing into a D-Day invasion. Forget about any trend toward scaling kits down to bare-bones dimensions; the Bronze is heavy artillery, built for domination.

You couldn't miss it, thanks to Paiste's dramatic lighting, which made the set glare like none other at NAMM. It is, in fact, the first cast-bronze drum kit ever built, and with stage lights hitting it just right, it dazzles. Drummers passing by the booth slowed down and stared, as goggle-eyed as classic car junkies stymied by a mint, flared-fin Chevy.

But how does it sound? Hard to say. The booth crew was reluctant to let anyone play it. Not because there were any problems with the tone; Paiste product specialist Steve Jacobs did treat us to a few thumps on the snare and assorted toms. A bright attack yielded a heavy, substantive tone that resonated with no significant deterioration.

No, the problem was that this thing is loud. A couple of good whacks was enough to summon drummers from neighboring aisles to gawk at this gleaming apparition.

What makes the Bronze Series so powerful is, of course, the bronze. It's built from the same alloy Paiste uses for its cymbals, with shells molded from solid, seamless hunks of the stuff.

If you want to get your hands on this leviathan, be prepared to fork over something like $20,000 for a custom kit consisting of snare, two toms, and bass drum. And if you've got any money left over, better give it to a roadie: The set displayed in Nashville weighs a meaty 91 pounds.

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