Top 10 Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Drummers

Script written by Christopher Ulaski. These guys certainly know how to lay down a heavy beat. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 hard rock and heavy metal drummers. For this list, we picked drummers from hard rock and heavy metal bands only. These drummers have mastered their craft and have been amazing audiences since their bands first emerged. Special thanks to our users Kyle Redstine, Western2486, gstaubin98, Jakkejanne and Jamie Caruso for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Christopher Ulaski

Top 10 Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Drummers


These guys certainly know how to lay down a heavy beat. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 hard rock and heavy metal drummers.

For this list, we picked drummers from hard rock and heavy metal bands only. We’ve excluded Led Zeppelin and others like them, because we’re defining them more as ‘classic’ hard rock acts.

#10: Vinnie Paul
Pantera / Damageplan / Hellyeah

Playing in a band like Pantera makes it virtually impossible to not end up on this list. Of course, being one hell of a badass drummer certainly helps too. Vinnie Paul doesn’t have a lot of flash, but he knows how to lay down a heavy hitting beat. His grooves are all about high impact and you can really feel the power he lays into the drums. We almost feel sorry for his drumheads. Almost.

#9: Joey Jordison
Slipknot

Cool masks. Blindingly fast double bass. Blast beats. Clever drums fills. And making it all look so easy. All these things are associated with Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison. Part of the anticipation that came with each new Slipknot album was what Joey was going to bring to the table. Although he was recently kicked out of the band, Joey will always be remembered for the pure awesomeness that he brought to Slipknot.

#8: Danny Carey
Tool

If there ever was a drummer that made you question what you just heard, it would be Tool’s Danny Carey. Musical enthusiasts and fans alike listen in wonder at the technicality of his drumming. His drum beats often involve time signatures that aren’t straight-forward. Carey is seen by many as the master of the polyrhythm, which is a beat that involves two or more conflicting rhythms. Studying his work definitely feels more like a math class than a drum lesson – in a good way.

#7: Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan
Avenged Sevenfold

When it comes to flash and making drumming look good, look no further than the work of Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan. When Avenged Sevenfold changed their sound with 2005’s City of Evil, Sullivan’s drumming was really allowed to shine. Combining the musical influences of old-school thrash with modern hard rock, his drumming was a sight to behold. Though he unfortunately passed away in 2009 at the young age of 28, he had already cemented a legacy that will be remembered by metal fans for quite some time.

#6: Alex Van Halen
Van Halen

The drummer of one of the biggest bands in history deserves a spot on this list. Though Van Halen might not be considered metal by today’s standards, they were a little heavier than most of the rock bands in their day. Alex Van Halen is the ultimate rock drummer, combining traditional rock beats with some of the best solos in the business. He had all the skills needed to keep up with his brother, who we all know was pretty good at his instrument of choice as well.

#5: Mike Portnoy
Dream Theater

With an enormous drum kit that would give Neil Peart a run for his money, Mike Portnoy doesn’t hold back when deciding what pieces to bring with him on stage. Analyzing and studying his drum beats will take any aspiring drummer to school. Though he no longer plays with Dream Theater, that hasn’t stopped him from joining other projects and bands. You don’t even have to be a drummer to appreciate his awesome drum solos.

#4: Nicko McBrain
Iron Maiden

You can’t spell classic metal without the words Iron and Maiden. Nicko McBrain, on top of having one of the coolest names in the history of music, is the very definition of old-school metal. His beats were more about getting the job done than showboating and being flashy. That being said, Nicko’s drumming is not without some flare, incorporating a little swing and elegance into his beats.

#3: Lars Ulrich
Metallica

Lars Ulrich is more than just an amazing drummer. Sure, it’s important to have technical skill or play difficult beats at high tempos, but Lars brings much more than that to the table. Throughout the years, He’s shown that he’s adaptable and versatile by varying his style in accordance with the band’s musical evolution and knows exactly how to keep in time with James Hetfield’s rhythm guitar. Watching him play, you can really see how he draws the crowd in and provokes audience participation. Metallica mostly plays arena-sized shows, but no matter how large the venue, every show feels personal and every fan feels like more than just someone in the crowd. And that’s what metal is all about.

#2: Bill Ward
Black Sabbath

Metal as it is today just wouldn’t be the same without the originators of heavy: Black Sabbath. Bill Ward did for heavy metal what John Bonham did for rock and roll. He also backed up Tony Iommi’s guitar wizardry with hard-hitting grooves and masterful drum work. Ward wasn’t just the guy in the background banging out a few beats; he was showing the world what metal drumming was and would eventually become.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Chris Adler
Lamb of God
- Brann Dailor
Mastodon
- Rick Allen
Def Leppard
- Vinny Appice
Black Sabbath / Dio
- Tomas Haake
Meshugah
- Tommy Aldridge
Ozzy Osbourne / Whitesnake

#1: Dave Lombardo
Slayer

It should be no surprise to see Dave Lombardo at the top of this list. As he drifted in and out of Slayer, he helped revolutionize the thrash and speed metal genre. His drumming is chock full of attitude and unrelenting rhythm. If you look up Lombardo in the dictionary, you would find that he is the exact definition of heavy metal drumming. He set the standard for the genre and showed later drummers what it meant to play hard and fast.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite hard rock or heavy metal drummer? For more heavy hitting top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to Watchmojo.com.
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