To those in the know, Sean Reinert was one of the most astounding heavy-rock drummers of all time, with timeless albums by Cynic and Death providing more supporting evidence than one would ever need. But from very early on, he pushed metal drumming well beyond its clichés, and in the process gave license to all who came after to see how far they could take their own art.

Surprisingly to many of his fans, for a time Reinert put metal on the backburner, refocusing his playing to serve indie, pop, and even film music. “I reached a certain point where I got over the fact that I’m not the fastest drummer in the world,” Reinert told Modern Drummer in a March, 2009 interview. “I decided that I would play every kind of music that I could, and put myself into every kind of situation, regardless of whether or not I felt like I was able to do it as well as the guy before me.
“You learn so much just by listening and playing in different situations,” Reinert insisted. “It allows you to know that if you do this here, it’s going to get in a certain guy’s way, and if you do this, it’ll get in this other guy’s way. When you’re sensitive to the people you’re playing with and the environment in which you’re creating, you can do what you do best, and that’s driving the band and really leading the way. If you can get even quieter in that quiet part, then that loud part is going to be even more extreme and even bigger-sounding. Playing in different situations, listening, and using your ears is key.”

In 2017 Reinert joined the progressive rock band Perfect Beings, soon after they’d recorded the studio album Vier with drummer Ben Levin. “When I heard the record,” Reinert told MD at the time, “it couldn’t have been a sweeter moment, because this was exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for. First, I’m a composer, and half of this stuff is orchestrated. And second, everything is all over the place musically and dynamically, in a good way. It’s an amalgam of all the styles that I love.”

Many musicians immediately posted heartfelt words about Reinert upon learning of his death; here we present what several of his peers—and, crucially, close friends—had to say.

Sean wasn’t just an incredible drummer, he was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He was a true friend. The way he approached his drumming was the same way he approached life: with passion, thoughtfulness, and pure love. His drumming with the band Death changed the metal drumming game in many ways, and what he did with Cynic only expanded and evolved his legacy as an influential drummer. Sean gave it 100 percent no matter what, and he always stayed true to himself and those he knew. I’m grateful that I had the honor of being friends with him and to learn from the amazing talent and kindness he exuded. Rest easy, my friend; you were one of a kind.

Ryan Van Poederooyen (Devin Townsend, Imonolith)

Not only was Sean an insanely talented drummer, he was someone that had a genuine heart for getting to know you. He knew of me before I had even said one word to him at NAMM. Sean was always interested in finding out more about the up-and-coming drummers and how to help them; and to me that was mind-blowing because I knew what Death and Cynic had done for the music world. Thank you, Sean, for having had a beautiful heart that will last a millennia!

Andy Prado (Sabrina Claudio, ScaryPoolParty)

I grew up a huge fan of Sean’s inventive, unique, and expressive style of drumming. His influence on my playing was such that it inspired me to buy a splash cymbal, and more importantly to try and learn how to use it effectively. Years later, my wife and I were fortunate to befriend Sean and his husband. It became our thing to hang out around some good food and just have fun together. None of us could have imagined this would all come to an end so unexpectedly. Beyond the incredible musician we all know him as, Sean was a kind, generous, and jovial person who loved his family, friends, and pets, and was genuinely interested in those around him. He played drums and wrote music not for success but simply because it’s what he loved to do. I miss Sean’s warm presence and his heartfelt bursts of laughter. Rest in peace, brother.

Dirk Verbeuren (Megadeth, Soilwork)

To all of us in the metal community, and the [larger] drumming community, Sean was definitely not “just a metal drummer.” Read all the posts about him, and you will know. Neil Peart influenced all of us to play more fills and be experimental, and Sean took it to the nth degree with everyone he played with, becoming a Neil Peart type of influence for the metal world. Go back and look at my first Modern Drummer feature—two of my ten most influential drumming albums are his: Death’s Human and Cynic’s Focus. Absolute stellar performances, unplayable by most of us mere mortals…I’m still trying. But on top of all this Sean was an awesome guy—just a laugh riot to hang out with. RIP, Sean. I hope you’re up there trading sevens with the Professor right now—or at least drinking some of his Macallan! We all love and miss you already.

Jason Bittner (Overkill, Shadows Fall)