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Top 5 Greatest Heavy Metal Drummers

by dsussman   May 15, 2008 at 9:02AM  |  Views: 5,550


What makes a great heavy metal drummer? My big personal criteria include: power, originality and being a complete wildman.

The best thing about metal drumming is the opportunity to mess with different percussion sounds. I’m sure you could say this for almost any genre of music, but some of the most influential experimental sounds that came out of progressive bands in the ‘60s and ‘70s (like Rush, Genesis and The Who) have continued to evolve through the heavy metal genre to this day.

Oh, and the double bass drum kicks ass as well.

Anyways, here’s my Top 5…

 #5 Tomas Haake of Meshuggah: You may not know who Tomas Haake is, but if you love some hard death metal you better pick up a Meshuggah record right now. Haake is known for his unreal technical abilities, as his drumming style is characterized by heavy use of polyrhythms while often maintaining a steady 4/4 beat. What does this mean? It means nonstop headbanging double bass action! Here’s a taste…


#4 Lars Ulrich of Metallica: Anybody that doesn’t agree with me on this one can suck my eyeball. Now I know most people hate Lars for the whole Napster thing and I totally understand this, but please don’t let this get in the way of the music itself. Lars’s drumming is completely unique and was absolutely groundbreaking for heavy metal. His double bass pedaling on Ride the Lighting, Master of Puppets and And Justice for All influenced every metal drummer after him. Deal with it. Here’s Metallica doing a ridiculously fast live version of “Whiplash” in 1989.

#3 Dave Lombardo of Slayer: The godfather of the double bass! The one thing about Lombardo that I love the most is his tasteful ability to not over play. This is definitely no easy task in the heavy metal genre.

His drumming on Reign in Blood pretty much made him the most influential death metal/thrash drummer on the planet. He’s made impacts on everyone from Slipknot’s Joey Jordison to The Rev of Avenged Sevenfold. Here’s him playing on the greatest thrash song ever made…


#2 Danny Carey of Tool: If Neil Peart had been a metal drummer he would sound just like Danny Carey. This dude is off the chain. His odd time signatures and unique sound are unmistakable. Anytime I listen to him play it sounds like you would need 3 arms to pull of what he is doing. Oh, and did I mention he’s in one of the metal bands of all time? Here’s Danny doing "Eulogy"…

#1 John Bonham of Led Zeppelin: You may or may not think that Bonham was metal, but we all know he’s the one that started it all. He had the power, he had the charisma and he most definitely had the skills to pay the bills on percussions. This man set the standard for every drummer that came after him, end of story. Here’s one of my favorites…


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