Sunday, 16 September 2012

When Metal Drummers Collide (Part One)

'When Metal Drummers Collide' is a multi-part series that imagines what it would be like if some of the world's leading metal drummers - on the strength of whatever solos/performances they have had captured on video or record - took each other on head-to-head to determine who comes out tops and claims the title of the most metal Metal Drummer.

I selected the list of drummers based loosely on the following factors: their speed, technique, style, genre, longevity and lastly 'pioneer' factor, which cannot adequately be described, so I shall offer this analogy: there are tons of really good bedroom drummers out there capable of mashing up five straight minutes of 220 bpm double-pedal beats, but none have as much 'pioneer' factor as someone like Dave Lombardo, since he was one of the first few people to bring such a style into the mainstream consciousness.

Without further ado, the list:
1. Assaf Seewi
2. Marco Minnemann
3. Dave Lombardo
4. Gene Hoglan
5. Hellhammer
6. Mike Portnoy
7. Charlie Benante
8. Flo Mounier
9. Inferno
10. Neil Peart
11. Casey Grillo
12. Hannes Grossmann
13. Mike Mangini
14. Vinnie Paul Abbott
15. Tomas Haake
16. Tim Alexander
17. John Bonham
18. Paul Bostaph
19. Peter Wildoer
20. Danny Carey

This list (and the accompanying analysis) is quite obviously partial in the sense that I lean towards drummers whose music I have listened to extensively. That having been said, in all analysis I try to be objective and logical, and anyway this was all done in the spirit of fun and should not be taken overly seriously.

Anyhow, here goes the faceoff.


1. Assaf Seewi

In checks British musician Assaf Seewi. Fairly rudimentary stuff, but his sense of groove and style is awesome in its understated way. The gimmicks on show like those at 0:11 and 0:27 in the video, however, are anything but understated, and take extreme dedication and practice to master. Minus points for economy, sure, but a huge plus for groove, timing and showmanship.

2. Marco Minnemann

Minnemann comes in and puts on a display of highly refined jazz-fusion drumming while extending a complementary nod towards his dabbles into the metal world with passages like the one around 1:00 into the video. The Jackhammer, as he is known in music circles, shows his remarkable ability to shift from style to style and tempo to tempo, all while indelibly leaving his signature on his music. An extremely worthy effort here.

3. Dave Lombardo

NO NO NO U CANT PUT A MERE SONG HERE WHEN DAVE HAS SO MANY SOLO WORKZ LOL. Actually, yes I can, seeing as this particular performance (note: performance, not song) encompasses all of Dave's trademark characteristics: his eye-popping speed, remarkable endurance, amazing accuracy in live performances and of course his famed double-pedal work. Dave Lombardo is part drummer, part percussionist and all musician. Hats off to the legend (it must be noted that this performance was taped in 2007 and that Dave has been playing this exact way, only progressively faster, since the eighties. Wow.)

4. Gene Hoglan

Though this clip does not even take up half a minute, it shows in a nutshell what Gene 'The Atomic Clock' Hoglan is about: power, precision, technical savvy and improvisational ability. Some critics have pigeonholed Gene into the 'double-pedal and not much else' stereotype, but this solo (and, really, much of Gene's body of work) dispels that notion instantly.

5. Hellhammer

Jan Axel Blomberg aka Hellhammer is perhaps best known for his sheer, unadulterated hand and foot speed.  Here, however, he shows off some jazzy chops (along with speed that's blazing, but not Hellhammer blazing - a testament to his high standards). Believe the word - Hellhammer is an all-rounded drummer, and he's scarily good.

Verdict: The first group contains a very diverse bunch of musicians and is already proving to be a headache to judge. If, however, we were being attacked by aliens and had to fend them off by impressing the hell out of them with drum solos, I would pick Gene Hoglan and Marco Minnemann. Honourable mentions go out to Hellhammer for his surprising versatility, Assaf for his eye-catching dexterity and Lombardo for, well, being Lombardo. So that concludes the first group of drummers; stay tuned to see Hoglan and Minnemann duke it out with their counterparts in subsequent editions.

- JE

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