Don't let the fact that drummers more often than not sit in the back mislead you — they are not to be ignored or forgotten. Rock would be nothing without its time-keepers, and metal, too, simply would not work were it not for the badasses pounding out hard-hitting beats behind the singers, guitarist and bassists. To shine a much-deserved spotlight on heavy music's mighty forces of percussion, we asked you, the fans, to pick the single greatest drummer in metal history. See below for the top five vote-getters.
As the singer, guitarist and spokesman for progressive metal powerhouse Gojira, Mario's big brother Joe gets most of the attention, but the younger Duplantier is earning an increasing share of the spotlight as fans become more aware of his jaw-dropping skills. Simply put, Mario can do it all — from extreme-metal blasts to jazzy fills to huge stomping beats that rule the mosh pit. All that and he's a talented visual artist whose work has adorned Gojira album covers and merch.
He sings, he writes songs, but above all Brann Dailor fucking drums. Like a many-limbed and many-brained beast, he drums. Listen to Mastodon's early records and it sounds as if Dailor is playing nothing but mad-genius fills, acrobatic and inventive and yet still supportive of each rumbling song. He's pulled back his playing a bit over the years — as he's matured at his craft — and the percussive results, while less showy, are even more impressive.
The late, great Vinnie Paul was the man who put the groove in Pantera's crushing, captivating "power groove" brand of swaggering heavy metal. As hard as the Texan firebrands' music hits, it always has swing, and Paul's unique talent behind the kit was one of the group's great secrets. That he was also a big part of their songwriting and record production only adds to his bona fides.
Tool's Danny Carey has long been revered as one of the world's great drummers, but with the prog-metal titans' 2019 comeback triumph Fear Inoculum and the psychedelic live shows that have followed, he's made a case for being the group's true frontman and, certainly, the rightful heir to the mighty Neil Peart's throne. In his hands, percussion isn't just a musical undertaking — it's a vehicle for opening the doors of perception.
Really, we could just refer you to the drum fill in Slayer's "Angel of Death" and rest the case at that. But the so-called "Godfather of Double Bass" has so much more to offer. Endlessly innovative and tirelessly prolific, the Cuban-American virtuoso has played with everyone from Suicidal Tendencies, Testament and the Misfits to more avant-leaning rock bands such as Fantômas and Mr. Bungle — which doesn't even cover his totally left-field collaborations with classical musician Lorenzo Arruga and fine artist Matthew Barney. Lombardo is the master and your clear pick as No. 1.