This month we dive into the third installment of our series on great ’80s drumming performances with a focus on metal and hard rock tracks. As usual we asked MD readers and social media followers for their take on the subject at hand. Here’s a selection of your responses.
Slayer’s Reign in Blood with Dave Lombardo. That record blew everyone away. The drums were so wild, and there are moments in some songs where the time goes out the window. But they always came back together.
Metallica’s …And Justice for All. With that album Lars Ulrich made double bass famous. The song “One” has probably one of the most well-known double bass patterns that tons of drummers, including me, learned at some point.
Helloween, Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part II. Helloween was one of the pioneers of European power metal with their self-titled EP and studio albums Walls of Jericho and Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I. When Part II was released the genre was in its infancy, and to me Ingo Schwichtenberg’s playing on it foretells the power metal drumming that was to come after it came out. It had skank-beat variations, broken double bass drum patterns, double- or half-time double bass grooves, polyrhythmic fills, unison ride bell patterns, and triplet-based double bass beats. For me this is the bible for European power metal drumming.
Fates Warning, Perfect Symmetry. Drummer Mark Zonder’s use of odd time signatures and innovative fills in the context of very compelling songs provided a huge dose of inspiration for me. I still play along to that album.
Queensrÿche, Operation: Mindcrime. I basically learned to play drums by mimicking Scott Rockenfield’s playing. His parts and the sound of his kit, with those China cymbals especially, were unique at the time. This record also introduced me to concept albums, so I think that added to its mystique. Operation: Mindcrime was quite an influence for me, drumming or otherwise.
Nicko McBrain’s drumming with Iron Maiden, especially on Somewhere in Time, blew me away as a young drummer. I couldn’t believe McBrain was playing all the complex patterns with one foot. Not to mention that every song on this album is killer, and each has unique and difficult drum parts. To this day it’s a fantastic album for working on single-pedal chops. McBrain really pushed the boundaries of what could be done with one foot. I grew up playing along to all the Maiden albums, and it’s really influenced my drumming and sound.
One of my favorites is Metallica’s …And Justice for All. That album features tons of heavy grooves and technical drum parts. Sonically, it served as a drum-tone guide for many metal drummers from back then to now.
I’d pick Creatures of the Night by Kiss for that monstrous drum sound, heavy groove, and Eric Carr’s immense pocket on “Keep Me Comin’” and “Saint and Sinner.” I’d also say Live After Death by Iron Maiden for its excitement and groove.
I think Dave Lombardo laid down the foundation for modern metal drumming on Slayer’s Reign in Blood. The double-time thrash beats, the double bass 16th-note runs, the huge fills…. Every metal drummer in the modern era, Slayer fan or not, owes a debt to that performance.
Ryan Alexander Bloom
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