While all elements in a recording conjure up to create a great sounding track, drums are a particularly important instrument for non lo-fi, punchy rock music, which requires particularly explosive kicks, snares and toms.
Great drummers playing great drums in great sounding rooms, and vintage compressors like the UREI 1176 and the Neve 33609 have been not so secret drum weapons for the longest time, but in the last few years a new kind dynamic processor, called Transient (or Signal) Shaper (or Modeler), has become crucial in morphing the modern drum sound.
These units allow fine tuning of any percussive sound at the mixing stage, allowing the enhancement of the drum’s attack (also called “transient” – see image), sustain and decay. There are many software manufacturers out there offering variations on this same concept in plug in format (Sonnox’s TransMod, Waves’ TransX, and Voxengos’ TransGainer to name a few), and a few expensive hardware units. A great place to start though is the free Digital Fish Phones Dominion plug in (pictured): try it on both the kick and snare bus and also on the overall drum bus and punch away.
Check out this foreign sounding but very competent and instrcuctive video courtesy of Finnish engineer ahjteam: