The Whiplash List : Ten Of Metal’s Best Drummers
23rd February 2015, 14:30
Posted by Tristan


Whiplash drums

As many will surely know, last night was the Oscars. Among many eclectic films, such as Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel, one that cleaned up was definitely Whiplash. A story about a young jazz drummer who is brought into the ranks of Terrence Fletcher, played fantastically by J.K Simmons. So we thought that among the fact that a film about drumming has actually won an Oscar, why not look at the metal drummers out there who would win our Oscar!

Hannes Grossmann

Kicking off with the incredible drumming of Hannes Grossmann. Having been in the death metal leaders, Obscura, Necrophagist and joined forces with Cannibal Corpse‘s own Alex Webster for Blotted Science. A talented drummer to say the least. After launching his incredible solo album Grossmann‘s latest project is the ominous sounding Alkaloid. A super group of sorts, combined with members from Dark Fortress, Aborted and Obscura the band are set to release a brand new album this April.

Phil Dubois Coyne

When he’s not drum teching for Florida death metal legends Cannibal Corpse, Dubois-Coyne is battering away behind the kit for Boston’s Revocation. Holding his own against the talents of the other members, the drummer is able to flit between some of the heaviest drumming in modern metal, to light strokes. Yet always being on point with his accuracy. Never overbearing or underwhelming. Exactly what you want from a solid drummer.

Tomas Haake

Really the man needs no introduction. One of the most forward thinking drummers of our time. His band Meshuggah being so reliant on rhythm he is the driving force behind the band. Although occasionally peppered with slight melody from guitarist Thordendal, much of Meshuggah‘s attack lies from behind the drum kit. Proving that he is one of the tightest metal musicians out there, with songs like triplet mad “Bleed” or the drunken stumble of “Stengah“. The band have even written whole songs, the monolithic twenty one minute epic “I” from a drum fill he was practising.
With Meshuggah set to release their latest album this year, Haake is sure to stun us once again with his innovations and his reliant drumming live.

Shannon Lucas

Although often an unsung hero of the metal world, I personally, think that we’ve a lot to thank for from Lucas. First off, the man was behind the kit on All That Remains‘ only album worth shouting about the metalcore smasher The Fall Of Ideals. After which he left, almost every metal head says that the band never made anything remotely similar. The follow up the disappointing Overcome showed a new drummer and gone was the ferocity of the band. Leading me to his next venture, Detroit death metallers The Black Dahlia Murder. From Nocturnal to Ritual, Lucas was with the band and delivered some of the best performances in the band’s career. A possibility,being that Lucas was, if not the basis, a serious help to the band reaching such critical acclaim. There’s a reason that “On Stirring Sea’s Of Salted Blood” is a live favourite. Check out the thundering rhythms of “Malenchantments Of The Necrosphere“.

Combine this with the attack of Ryan Knight‘s searing guitar and you’re onto a winner. That being said, Alan Cassidy, of previous Abigail Williams has shown himself to be a more than worthy successor!

Mike Portnoy

No drummers list would be complete without the blue bearded wonder. Making a name for himself with the fantastic Dream Theater. The man now seems to be making projects out of thin air, from Transatlantic to The Winery Dogs. Writing some of the most complex drum parts in progressive metal, the amount of time changes in Dream Theater‘s “The Dance Of Eternity” is mind boggling. What is irreplaceable about the man though is his sense of purpose. The second Portnoy hits a cymbal, tom or even snare you know immediately that it is him behind the kit. Take Avenged Sevenfold‘s Nightmare, after the passing of The Rev, the sticks man filled in and though it might be a totally different band, it’s undeniably Portnoy. Not many metal drummers have this ability to imprint their identity with a single hit! Check out his drumming styles on the brand new Neal Morse album The Grand Experiment.

Mario Duplantier

Before the band began to fill out the Brixton Academy’s of the world, from their beginnings in Bayonne, France, Gojira were onto something. Remaining with the same line up for their entire career so far, save for a lone bassist. The band have created some unique music. With their game plan ranging from fierce aggression to almost trance inducing repetition the man in charge is the one behind the drums. So reliant is Gojira‘s ethos on the drums, many of their greatest songs rely on build up created by their phenomenal drummer. Take live favourite “Flying Whales” on the surface a fairly simple song,yet to engage with the audience on the level that the band get the entire room screaming about whales, takes some build up… Not to mention the bass pedal trickery of The Link particularly on “Rememberance“.

Matt Halpern

The ambassador of  the V neck, not only is he the drummer responsible for the the thundering grooves of Periphery but Halpern being the savvy musician also owns A site where drummers, professional or otherwise can get together and play! Enabling many bands to host private lessons behind the kit before the show, unfortunately due to his schedule with Periphery Bandhappy has been closed temporarily. Nevertheless the man is an absolute monster behind the drums. Coming up with varied ideas to keep the band sounding fresh, with the daunting task of creating rhythm over three guitars, the man simultaneously holds his own, whilst also being individual. Giving the songs texture when needed, often with Periphery‘s schizoid nature it demands that the drummer be able to change style from jazz interlude to thumping break in a matter of seconds. Without Halpern it’s arguable that the band might not be where they are today!

Brann Dailor

As the evolution of Mastodon continues so does the evolution of it’s biggest brain. Leaving all the spaced out craziness to guitarist Brent Hinds, drummer Brann Dailor is responsible for the rhythmic chaos in the band. From their beginnings, firmly in the metal scene with anthems like “Blood And Thunder” or the unrelenting “March Of The Fire AntsDailor‘s skill has always been on the forefront of the band. However when the band begun to get more progressive with both concept and musicality the man truly began to shine brighter than most. Singing most of Crack The Skye along with some of the best moments on new album Once More ‘Round The Sun the drummer not only creates a niche for himself behind the drums but also a contrasting crooning excellently exhibited on “Oblivion“. It’s also worth mentioning the sheer simplicity of his kit, the recognizable dotted  toms are not hiding a immeasurable amount of cymbals a la Portnoy but a humble hi hat, snare, crash and whatever else is needed. Echoing the old adage sometimes less most certainly can be more!

Kevin Talley

The man with a thousand faces, if you listen to death metal, chances are you will most certainly have heard this man. Having filled in for Hate Eternal, played with Dying Fetus, Misery Index and now currently in Suffocation, believe me the list could go on. Known for his devastating ability, from blast beats to double bass the man is a a gold medal metal drummer. Not flashy, or showing off simply plays what is needed. Currently with Suffocation it’s believed that he will record their new album with the band which is due out this year!

Marco Minnemann

Arguably one of the most theoretically competent drummers on this list, Minnemann has released countless solo albums and drummed with some of the best progressive acts out there. Whilst not only touring the world the man has also been a founder of the new technique, interdependence. Meaning Minnemann has created the ability to play various different patterns with both his feet and his hands simultaneously. However when not creating breakthroughs on the kit his other habitats include The Aristocrats where he is joined by fellow guitar muso Guthrie Govan and performing with Steven Wilson in his band. Having recorded the phenomenal The Raven That Refused To Sing And Other Stories with Wilson, he returns for Hand.Cannot.Erase. the thoroughly anticipated follow up. Being a master of technique, he is one of the most sought after drummers, with varying knowledge of different styles and genres.

As there are about a million other drummers that I am sure I have missed, but are just as note worthy why not comment and see who you would like to see!

Not forgetting Lars Ulrich


Whiplash is in cinemas everywhere now.