Slayer, Testament, Exodus, Systematic, Forbidden: Over the past couple of decades, drummer Paul Bostaph’s résumé reads like a “wish list” of heavy rock, metal, and thrash acts. But it’s really no surprise that this Bay Area–based one-man demolition crew has been able to land such an outstanding host of heavy gigs.
Bostaph spent his formative years in the late ’80s and early ’90s with Forbidden. It was his first successful venture in the music industry, and was immediately followed by his lengthy stint in Slayer, his highest-profile gig to date. Bostaph dutifully—and impressively—replaced the mighty Dave Lombardo, touring with the veteran act for several years and even recording five highly regarded Slayer full-lengths, 1994’s Divine Intervention, 1995’s Live Intrusion, 1996’s Undisputed Attitude, 1998’s Diabolus In Musica, and 2001’s God Hates Us All.
Since leaving Slayer, Bostaph has consistently maintained his monstrous stance in the metallic drumming niche, thanks in large part to his amazing kit agility, furious speed, and excellent attitude. His recordings with bands Systematic and Exodus are additional proof of a career that has continued to plow forward.
In 2008 Bostaph rejoined thrashers Testament and performed on their first new album in nine years, The Formation Of Damnation. It’s interesting to note that Testament has had its share of well-known metal drummers on the throne, including John Tempesta, Gene Hoglan, and the aforementioned Lombardo, who performed on the band’s 1999 release, The Gathering.
Bostaph credits his success to his willingness to take risks behind the kit—including exploring different styles with other projects. “Taking risks has made me a better drummer,” he insists. “Sure, I’ve fallen flat on my face plenty of times. At times I’ve learned just how ‘metal’ I am. But you can’t learn to flip the switch to another style unless you’re not afraid to jump into the cold water. Some people dip their toes in the pool to check the temperature. But some people go, ‘Screw it! I know it’s cold, I’m jumping in.’ I believe you have to do that to really find out what your strengths—and weaknesses—are.”