Thursday, 20 September 2012

When Metal Drummers Collide (Part Four)

For those of you who haven't been following this series thus far, a list of twenty famous/skilled/influential/popular drummers from various metal sub-genres was drawn and the drummers 'pitted' against each other in groups of five, with the top two in each group advancing to the Final Eight. Three groups' worth of action has passed so far: the six who have already made it to the Final Eight are: Marco Minnemann and Gene Hoglan (Group One), Flo Mounier and Neil Peart (Group Two) and Mike Mangini and Tomas Haake (Group Three).

On now to the final group, Group Four.


16. Tim Alexander

 Opening Group Four is 'Herb' Alexander, who gained mainstream recognition with Primus. Primus, for the uninitiated, is fronted by eccentric bassist Les Claypool, who happens to be a close friend of one of music's most wacko people, Buckethead. That gives you an idea of what Herb gained fame playing: complex, irreverent yet musically challenging stuff. In the video (as well as in every other bit of footage you can find), Herb plays with unparalleled precision and a solid sense of groove and timing. A strong start to Group Four.

17. John Bonham

Bonham, by virtue of his sheer fame at the peak of his career as well as his 'pioneer' status, simply had to be included in the discussion. Anyway, around 1:01 into the above video, Bonham launches into his trademark 'Moby Dick' solo. Nothing too technically fancy compared to modern music, but bear in mind that Bonham was doing this stuff four decades ago. 'Bonzo' was truly way ahead of his time, from a technical and musical standpoint.

18. Paul Bostaph

Bostaph enters this contest with his signature brand of death metal drumming. If the word that best describes Herb's drumming is 'feel', the best word to describe Bostaph's is 'intensity'. Disregard the poor sound of Paul's kit in this video and focus instead on how he never, at any point, lets up or slacks off. Certain drummers have 'cruise modes' where they just coast and let muscle memory take over; if Bostaph has this mode, he certainly chooses not to show it, instead always extracting as much value as he can out of each and every note. Traits like this have enabled him to garner significant success with bands like Slayer and Testament.

19. Peter Wildoer

When Peter Wildoer auditioned for Dream Theater right after Mike Portnoy left the band, his playing was so precise and polished it had the other DT members gushing about how they could have just held a gig right there and then with him. That's Peter in a nutshell - technically flawless, capable of handling the most complex of polyrhythms and grooves with consummate ease and blessed with tremendous work ethic.

20. Danny Carey

Danny Carey is a natural; he just makes drumming look like a walk in the park. Also, doesn't that kit of his sound absolutely gorgeous? The solo in this video is not one of his most technical ones, but it does show off Carey's more musical side. Some drummers play mere notes; Carey plays good, high-quality music.

Verdict: The sentimentalist's choice would obviously have been John Bonham, but all that has to be put aside in favour of objectivity. And objectivity says that Peter Wildoer and Tim Alexander make in through on the strength of their collective combination of technical proficiency and interpretative ability. Those two have drumming down to a science; then again, so does Danny Carey, who must be considered a major scalp here.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Final Eight:
1. Marco Minnemann (Germany)
2. Gene Hoglan (USA)
3. Flo Mounier (Canada)
4. Neil Peart (USA)
5. Mike Mangini (USA)
6. Tomas Haake (Sweden)
7. Tim Alexander (USA)
8. Peter Wildoer (Sweden)

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