Sunday, 16 September 2012

When Metal Drummers Collide (Part Two)

In Part One, we saw Marco Minnemann and Gene Hoglan emerge from a tough group to claim spots in the final eight. On now to the second group.


6. Mike Portnoy

Kicking off the second batch of five is none other than former Dream Theater member Mike Portnoy. Equally notorious for his creativity and natural ability as his eccentricity and alleged lack of dedication, Portnoy has always been something of an enigma throughout his career (even starting his guffaw-worthy side project, Adrenaline Mob). In this particular clip, though, some of Portnoy's enduring strengths are seen, such as his peerless ability to improvise and innovate within a band context.

7. Charlie Benante

Ignore the sub-par sound quality; ignore, too, the fact that Anthrax (Benante's band) is unquestionably the least 'big' of the Big Four of thrash metal. Focus instead on Benante's speed, precision and fundamental soundness. Benante isn't the flashiest or most innovative drummer; rather, he's been astoundingly solid and consistent over his lengthy career and thus deservedly finds a spot in this group.

8. Flo Mounier

I like it when musicians push limits and test boundaries; I absolutely love it when Flo Mounier goes batshit crazy at around 0:58 in the video. Mounier is well known not just for his devastating speed, but also for his longevity (him and his band Cryptopsy have been around since 1988) and ability to create beats that are, on top of being blindingly fast, heavy as anything. The amazement factor goes up a notch when you consider that  the city that Mounier hails from is most famous for producing Celine Dion and Michael Buble.

9. Inferno

Holy shit. Another speedster! Just when you thought Flo was fast, in comes Inferno. Flo might be faster 'overall' (when factoring in hand speed, foot speed, ability to change rhythms and tempos and all that stuff), but for raw double-pedal rapidity, Inferno takes the cake all day. Nearing the end of the video (at around the 0:55 mark), we are treated to a machinegun-like flurry of beats (which is significantly faster than the earlier portion of the solo, which is already itself fast. Shiiiit.)
Side note: Inferno isn't the most unique drummer - there are a number of notable drummers in his mould (think George Kollias, Derek Roddy and their ilk). Still, he beats out the rest of them (themselves terrifyingly talented musicians) due to his superior combination of speed, power and precision in a live setting.

10. Neil Peart

Rounding off the group is Neil Peart who, stylistically and historically speaking, couldn't be more different from the drummer just before him in this list. To call Peart a 'drummer' is to call Michael Jackson (R.I.P.) a 'dancer'; they both do their respective labels more than enough justice, but have far more to their games than those labels suggest. In this video, Peart shows off his tremendous versatility and musicality, riffing on various percussion instruments and maintaining the feel of the solo through its entirety. Peart was truly way ahead of his time.

Verdict: Objectively speaking (and oddly since all these drummers represent the elite in their various genres), this group was slightly weaker than the first and therefore easier to come to a conclusion with; Neil Peart and  Flo Mounier advance into the final eight. As a Dream Theater fan, I've got to say this: I'm gutted, but truth hurts.

Stay tuned for parts three and four and the Final Eight!

- JE

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