- #1 Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Testament, Apocalyptica, Suicidal Tendencies)
- #2 Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Sons of Apollo, Winery Dogs)
- #3 Eloy Casagrande (Sepultura)
- #4 Mike Mangini (Extreme, Annihilator, Steve Vai, Dream Theater)
- #5 Ray Luzier (Korn, David Lee Roth)
- #6 Tomas Haake (Meshuggah)
- #7 Matt Garstka (Animals As Leaders)
- #8 Matt Halpern (Periphery)
- #9 George Kollias (Nile, Nightfall)
- #10 Joey Jordison (Slipknot, Vimic)
- #11 Flo Mounier (Vltimas, Cryptopsy)
- #12 Aquiles Priester (Hangar, Angra, W.A.S.P. Noturnall)
- #13 Danney Carey (Tool, Green Jellÿ, Pigmy Love Circus)
- #14 Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden)
- #15 Mario Duplantier (Gojira)
- #16 Chris Adler (Lamb Of God, Megadeth, Nitro)
- #17 John Dolmayan (System of a Down)
- #18 Igor Cavalera (Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy)
- #19 Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Hellyeah)
- #20 The Rev (Avenged Sevenfold)
- #21 Adam Gray (Texas in July)
- #22 Matt Greiner (August Burns Red)
- #23 Billy Ward (Black Sabbath)
- #24 Jay Weinberg (Slipknot)
- #25 Bobby Jarzombek (Fates Warning)
- #26 Charlie Benante (Anthrax, Stormtroopers of Death)
- #27 Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Fear Factory, Testament)
- #28 Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell)
It is hard to find the best metal drummers in the world of skilful drummers that we have today, from my point of view, music isn’t a competition, so I choose my favorite metal drummers in the world right now. Here is a few attributes I considered while making this list:
Each drummer from this list has all these attributes. They are not just drummers that the audience likes but also that drummers like. These guys are in the spotlight of every young drummer trying to play their songs, beats, chops.
Their technique is pretty much advanced, and some of their performances are legendary. That said, they well deserved a place on this list.
#1 Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Testament, Apocalyptica, Suicidal Tendencies)
A true giant when it comes to his impact on a young generation of metalheads. The first time I heard about Lombardo was when I read an Interview with Lars Urlich from Metallica, where he stated that his favorite drummer is Lombardo.
He recorded their famous metal album Reign in blood in 1986 and the world-known metal anthem Raining Blood. Strong, punching double bass grooves and his unique playing took Slayer to another level.
This album wrote the history of Slayer by making them one of the most famous metal bands in the world. The main factor of his departure from Slayer were financial issues. As he says, the amount the band members earn was not proportional.
For many, Dave is the best metal drummer of all time.
After quitting Slayer, he was a well-established metal drummer, so it was easy to get some gigs like Testament, Apocalyptica, and Suicidal Tendencies.
#2 Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Sons of Apollo, Winery Dogs)
The man behind Dream Theater magic and the king of odd time signatures and musicality. The first time hearing Mike Portnoy is a magical experience for every young metal drummer.
For a person new to drums, it is beyond reasonable that someone can change 108 time signatures in one song, such as Dance of eternity. In 2010 Portnoy decided to go separate ways and quit Dream theater.
The reason for that is burn out as he said. His signature licks like four on the snare, two on the feet are spread widely across the entire metal universe of young bands and drummers.
Known for his charisma, dexterity, and famous head hit move, he belongs in the Modern Drummer hall of fame… His Impact on progressive drumming is enormous.
Tama makes Portnoy signature snare drum Melody master named after his daughter. He also endorses Sabian cymbals, Remo drumheads, and Pro-Mark drumsticks. An interesting fact is that his son Max also plays drums, and he is quite good; hopefully, he will beat Mike one day.
#3 Eloy Casagrande (Sepultura)
The monster behind the Sepultura force. His drumming can be described as the overuse of force mixed with aggressive percussion rhythms. When you hear Eloy for the first time, you get the kind of a “what the fuck just happened” feel.
He started playing drums when he was seven years old and won a Batuka International Drummer Fest at the age of 13 and Modern Drummer’s Undiscovered Drummer Contest at the age of 14. In 2011 he joined Sepultura, and the drumming community went crazy about him.
It sounds almost impossible that someone is playing that fast with that much power. This differentiates Eloy and his playing from many metal drummers today.
At 29 years of age, he is one of the best metal drummers of today that comes from Brazil. At the same time, he is the youngest drummer to play in Sepultura.
#4 Mike Mangini (Extreme, Annihilator, Steve Vai, Dream Theater)
Before he inherited Mike Portnoy in Dream Theater, he was known as the drummer for Steve Vai, Extreme, Annihilator. As far as the drumming community, he was and still is one of the technically most advanced drummers in the word.
He can play things with just one hand that many drummers can’t play with both. The well-known fact is that he holds five world records for the fastest drummer. Even Discovery’s Time Warp show dissected his playing with speed cameras.
It is barely impossible to analyze his playing without slow motion anyways. He played on two studios and one live album by Steve Vai. Also, before that, he made a strong impression playing with Annihilator and Extreme.
In 2005 he became a full-time teacher at Berklee College of Music, but he resigned when he joined Dream Theater.
He joined Dream Theater in 2011 after auditioning with a couple of world’s most technically advanced drummers like Thomas lang and Virgil Donati. Before the audition, he played on three solo albums of Jamies Labrie, the Dream Theater singer.
#5 Ray Luzier (Korn, David Lee Roth)
Best known as a drummer for Korn and successor of David Silveria. In 2007 he auditioned for Korn and ripped. Their initial plan was to have him on the road for the upcoming tour, but he ended as a full-time member.
He is known to be a hard worker, so for his first audition instead of learning five songs, he learned 30. Ray spent eight years playing for David Lee Roth and recorded two studio albums with him. There he met Billy Sheehan, the famous rock bass player. He recorded two albums for him also.
What makes his drum set unique is china cymbal in the middle. Among drummers, china is mainly positioned on the right or left side of the setup.
This opens up the opportunity to play china with both hands, and if you think about it makes perfect sense. His powerful style and double bass fills perfectly fit Korn music.
#6 Tomas Haake (Meshuggah)
This guy may be the most advanced metal drummer Although most drum parts in metal music sound hard to play, the fact is that they are not.
The pieces are fast for sure, but that is the thing with metal drummers, they don’t pay attention to the sound but only speed.While on the other hand, if you dive deeper into Tomas Haake drum parts, you will realize that his approach is so musical and complex.
Playing that kind of polyrhythms with double bass power and precision is hard, even for some professional drummers. He is a full-time member of Meshuggah. In 2008 he was voted as the best metal drummer by the readers of Modern Drummer Magazine.
Many of his drum influences come from a world of jazz, which makes perfect sense when you hear his playing. The song Bleed set the drumming community on fire with his three over four polyrhythm. The fun fact is that he writes most of the Meshuggah lyrics.
#7 Matt Garstka (Animals As Leaders)
Probably most drummers will hate you if you compare somebody with Vinnie Colaiuta, but if there is an inheritor of Vinnie’s drum madness, that is definitely Matt Garstka.
It would be even safe to say that he is one of the best metal drummers of today, but I try not to be subjective, and as I said, drumming isn’t a competition. The stuff he plays is untouchable for most of the drummers. It is complex on so many levels.
It is hard even to figure out, and then when you sit down to practice, you realize his creativity and madness.He is a full-time member of very creative and one of its kind Animals As Leaders. His education comes from Berklee College of Music.
In 2011 Matt made an appearance on Gospel Chops video and became known to a much larger audience. At the age of 30, there is a lot of great things ahead of him, and with his style, the future is bright. I am sure that he is the guy who will dictate the trends.
Matt endorses Meinl cymbals, Tama drums, Promark drum sticks. Remo drumheads.
#8 Matt Halpern (Periphery)
Next to Matt Garstka, Halpern is one of the most creative drummers in the world right now. His strange drumset sometimes without toms and his grooves are very distinct.
But exactly those things make him unique as a drummer. He started drumming at three years old. He currently plays with a band called Periphery. Also, he is a very active drum instructor.
What a lot of people may not know is that Matt is a co-founder of getgooddrums.com. It is not just a website but also a software company that produces drum sample libraries.
Also, the exciting fact is that Mat Halpern played in Animals as Leaders before Matt Garstka. Modern Drummer Magazine voted Matt for the best metal drummer.
#9 George Kollias (Nile, Nightfall)
He originally comes from Greek. George is one of the best drummers of death metal and a full-time member of band Nile… The role model of many death metal drummers.
His speed and technique is astonishing. The most astonishing thing about his playing is his foot technique. The technique he uses is unique, and he calls it the swivel technique.
On faster tempos, his feet are going from up and down to the side to side movement. When he reaches a certain speed, the movement gets smaller.He played the first show after just three months of playing drums in his brother highschool.
Man, who helped George a lot in his education, is Yannis Stavropoulos. In 2008 he released an instructional dvd called Intense Metal Drumming. His two bands before the Nile were Sickening Horror and Nightfall.
#10 Joey Jordison (Slipknot, Vimic)
He is one of the most influential metal drummers of the last decade. He joined the band The Pale Ones in 1995, which later changed its name to Slipknot. He played on four studio and one live album.
Also, he played on many metal sessions over the years. The actual reason behind his departure from Slipknot was revealed a couple of years later. As the main reason, Joe mentioned transverse myelitis, a neurological illness. Jordison played guitar in a band called Murderdolls.
Later on, in 2004, he added a musical production to his versatile career. The proof of his great talent are many awards he received over the years, such as The best drummer of the previous 25 years by Rhythm Magazine, World’s greatest metal drummer by Loudwire, The Golden God Award by Metal Hammer.
Since he quit in Slipknot, he has been to Metallica first pick when Lars Urlich was hospitalized in 2004. Afterward, he got a call from Korn to replace David Silveria for the upcoming tour.
#11 Flo Mounier (Vltimas, Cryptopsy)
One of the more recognized drummers in the metal scene is Flo Mounier, the drummer of the metal band Cryptopsy.
He is not only a studio/live drummer but also a clinician. He has toured worldwide.
Flo is sponsored by numerous drum companies such as Sabian, Evans, Shure, Vic Firth, and Pearl.
Mounier also has associations and collaborations with other popular names from the music industry, such as Nader Sadek, an Egyptian-American artist known for his death metal projects.
He also collaborated with death metal supergroup VLTIMAS which was announced in October 2018.
Mounier’s combined record sales reached over 300,000 copies to this date, which is very impressive for a metal band drummer.
#12 Aquiles Priester (Hangar, Angra, W.A.S.P. Noturnall)
Aquiles Priester is a Brazilian drummer and is currently a member of the Brazilian power metal band Hangar, Midas Fate, and Noturnall.
He has played with Paul Di’Anno, Vinnie Moore, Tony Macalpine, DragonForce, and WASP.
Born in South Africa in a town called Otjo.
At the age of four, he saw a jazz drummer on a TV show, and that was his only contact with this instrument for many years.
At the age of 6, he fell in love with soccer and had aspirations to become a professional player one day.
In 1985 after the recurring music festival “Rock in Rio,” something in him changed, and the drummer he had seen on a TV show started making more sense.
Since then, he has successfully pursued his musical career and is recognized as one of the 50 best metal and rock drummers.
#13 Danney Carey (Tool, Green Jellÿ, Pigmy Love Circus)
Danny Carey, also called “Demon on drums,” is an American musician and songwriter. He is best known for being the drummer for the rock band Tool.
After he got accused of being a bit satanic in one of the magazines, Carey replied:
“There’s no effort to appear any certain way. We just want to stay true to what we do. Maybe because we dig a little deeper within each other, stranger things come out that people aren’t exposed to. If you are not familiar with something, often it gets labeled as weird or satanic. When people don’t understand something, instead of being curious, their instinct is to fear it. That can lead to misperceptions.”
He first encountered the drums when he was 10 years old.
When he was away from Tool, Danny collaborated with many other bands, such as the Fusion band Volto, Pigmy Love Circus, Electronica, and many more.
#14 Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden)
With a punchy and distinctive style, Nicko is more famous than any drummer has a right to be.
Iron Maiden bassist Steve Haris has an interesting way of describing Nicko, and it is as follows:
“I can’t think of any other drummer that would have fitted in so perfectly; Nick plays the drums the way most guitarists play their guitars – he’s riffing right along with you, note for note. I’ve never known anything like it! He doesn’t just hold the beat, he drives the whole thing along, and as the bass player has to keep up with him every night, that’s great for me. It means none of us is ever allowed to give less than 100 percent.”
It is not so easy to imagine how Iron Maiden masterpieces like ‘Where Eagles Dare,’ ‘2 Minutes To Midnight,’ ‘Can I Play With Madness,’ ‘Be Quick Or Be Dead,’ or ‘Man On The Edge’ would have sounded like without his flawlessly thundering drums.
#15 Mario Duplantier (Gojira)
Mario is a French-American musician who has established himself as a technically flawless drummer. He is best known to be a drummer for the progressive death metal band Gojira.
He started developing an interest in music and drumming when he was 11 years old. He was initially inspired by his brother, who used to play the guitar. Then, he gradually moved to more extreme metal and became a death metal drummer.
We need to understand that Mario was a perfectionist, and he aimed for the greatest performance and flawlessness all the time. Here is what he has to say about that:
“In the rehearsal room, I was already a real perfectionist tyrant at thirteen. I wanted everything to be perfect.”
Since Mario’s family has always been into different arts, Mario has developed drawings representing his tour experiences. His drawings are an expression of freedom and creativity.
#16 Chris Adler (Lamb Of God, Megadeth, Nitro)
Chris was interested in recurring sounds and started playing with broken sticks on his parent’s coffee cans as a toddler.
His mother was also in the musical industry and taught him how to play the piano. Throughout his youth, Chris performed in multiple bands and recording projects.
After not becoming a band member in high school, he decided to put the bass guitar back in the case and devote himself more to school and drums. This is what he was thinking at that particular time:
“I had spent the time rolling the dice on playing bass in multiple bands. I had toured the US, been signed to a label, and toured the US. By the time I was 21, I had figured it was time to move on. Maybe the music wasn’t going to work out as I had hoped. I got a job and enrolled in school full-time. I picked up a drum kit just for fun. I had always wanted to play.”
After that, he would experience big success and join numerous groups such as Lamb of God, Nitro, Megadeth, and Blotted Science.
#17 John Dolmayan (System of a Down)
John is known to all of us for being the drummer of System of a Down. He was ranked 33 on Loudwire’s list of the top 200 hard rock + metal drummers of all time, which says a lot about his quality.
He got first interested in drums when he was only 2 years old, and when his mother would take him to watch his father play saxophone, he would always mimic the drummer from his father’s band.
His biggest influence was Keith Moon, a drummer of the English rock band The Who.
Besides this, he was also influenced by Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, who was mentioned earlier in this article, Stewart Copeland from The Police, and Rush’s Neil Peart.
These days Dolmayan is very politically active on his social media accounts, and the “frustrating” thing is he is politically opposed to his bandmate and brother-in-law Tankian.
Since he was always a comic book fan, he owns his comic book shop called Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas, Nevada.
#18 Igor Cavalera (Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy)
Igor is best known as the formal drummer for the heavy metal band Sepultura. He co-founded the band with his brother Max in 1984.
Cavalera would be the last one to leave the band. Since then, the brothers are finally together again in the band called Cavalera Conspiracy.
He started playing drums when he was around 7 years old, and he was really into samba music. I believe I read somewhere he was amazed by the Queen’s performance in 1981, and shortly after that, he started listening to rock music.
Cavalera was majorly influenced by Bill Ward, Dave Lombardo, Mike Bordin, and Roger Taylor. He was a master of his innovative style, and he managed somehow to bring tribal elements into the songs, which is not-so-easy of a job.
He is known to have a lot of hobbies, one of them being Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a martial art based on controls and submissions.
#19 Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Hellyeah)
When he was asked which music he would like to be played at his funeral, he thought for a second and said:
“I’d really want to choose an album that was a goddamn good time, like fuckin’. I’d want people to celebrate what we’ve done and the fact that we’d had a great life. I wouldn’t want my funeral to be a sad, sappy thing.”
He was always about fun and made his entire life a mission to make the world a place where people would smile and enjoy more.
Vinnie was a drummer and a co-founder of the heavy metal band Pantera. In the opinion of many, he was one of the greatest metal drummers ever to walk this Earth.
He collaborated with a horse-masked Zakk Wylde in a music video for Black Label Society’s cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
#20 The Rev (Avenged Sevenfold)
James Owen Sullivan, known by his stage name “The Rev,” was a heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold member.
He got his first pair of drumsticks when he was only 5. Mike Portnoy and Vinnie Paul heavily influenced him.
Kicked from school, full of life, and ready to tour around the world, Rev was destined to be a great drummer:
“I’ve never been able to stay in one place, and I just like the excitement of getting out there and playing live and the whole lifestyle that comes along with it. I like to party when the time is right, as do we all, I believe. Being in new countries every week is awesome when you take in foreign cultures. When we go to other countries, we always make sure we have a couple of days in between shows and get to see the places we want to see. It’s perfect — you’re on vacation, and you’re working. I’m obsessed with seeing as much of the world as possible.”
We will never get over 2009, that year of sorrow and the moment the world lost one of the greatest drummers ever.
#21 Adam Gray (Texas in July)
Adam was gifted his first drum set when he was only 3 years old. He was well known to be a member of “Texas in July” before he decided to become independent.
Over his early days, he already knew he wanted to play music for the rest of his life. He is a co-founder of Texas in July. The band came to life during his freshman years in high school.
Adam is also into clinical playing, and this is what he had to say for the magazine modern drummer:
Aside from Texas in July, I’m a huge fan of clinical playing. I love seeing what time signatures and patterns I can layer to make a cool sound. I’ve developed a workout with four levels, with nine phases in each level. As you go up the levels, your limbs become more independent. It goes from level one, where you work on the leg and arm independence as pairs, to level four, each limb doing its own time signature and pattern separately.
#22 Matt Greiner (August Burns Red)
Matt is an American metalcore drummer known as a founding member of August Burns Red’s band. He was homeschooled as a child.
He is also a co-founder of the drum company Greiner&Kilmer alongside his fellow drummer Kaleb Kilmer.
Before the release of their ninth full-length album, titled “Guardians,” Matt had an interview and was asked how does he feel about this one coming out:
I am looking forward to the release! There is always an element of nerves, but the primary emotion is excitement! We’ve released 3 singles to this point, and the reaction has been positive, so it’s helpful to know how our fans will generally react to the album’s sound. Having our finger on the pulse helps alleviate some of the nerves.
Greiner is also known to be an outspoken Christian.
#23 Billy Ward (Black Sabbath)
Billy is a Grammy awarded drummer, recording engineer, music educator, and producer, best known for being a member of Black Sabbath. His first teacher was Jack Volk, who taught him for 6 years.
Ward has recorded and toured with B.B King, Bill Champlin, Richard Marx, Jim beard, Robbie Robertson, etc.
Billy is known for his two instructional DVDs, Voices In My Head and Big Time. These DVDs won over the critics, and drummers were grateful for his offering of world skills.
When he was 17, he had a five-hour lesson with Elvin Jones, and this is what he had to say years later:
“Elvin’s generosity to me is paid back in part every time I perform a teaching event or share my concepts with students. Elvin was a kind soul that has influenced me tremendously.”
He is also an author of “Inside Out – The Mental Aspects of Drumming,” a book that aims to clarify and offer solutions to musicians facing adversity and different challenges.
#24 Jay Weinberg (Slipknot)
Jay spent his formative years exploring New York’s creative scenes and began creating art and playing music when he was 14.
He is best known to be a member of the heavy metal band Slipknot which he originally joined back in 2013.
He has proved that he believes in good with his decision to start working for a nonprofit organization, “Best Buddies Tennessee.”
He has been voted for “Drummer of the Year” by the Loundwire Music Awards and one of the “Top Drummers Who Made a Difference in 2015” by DRUM! Magazine.
In one of the magazines, he gives a very clear description of his life and how he manages not to be exhausted all the time while touring:
“And as far as the toll it takes? That happens, but I feel good. I think the music keeps us all very… it gets us daily. We’re here only for the music and the fans — and us. This is where we get to tap into what we love to do the most, and we love sharing it with the people who’ve been so passionate about this band for 20 years.”
#25 Bobby Jarzombek (Fates Warning)
Raised in San Antonio, Bobby grew up in a very musical family. He picked up drums for the first time when he was 10 years old. Soon he started playing with his two brothers, Ralph and Ronnie.
He made his first official recording debut with Juggernaut. His success became more evident after joining Fates Warning in 2007.
When he was asked why did it take 6 years for his name to appear in the Different Light album, he replied:
Yeah, that’s weird that I was with the band for quite a few years before I recorded with them. I don’t know the reason. During the years between my joining the band and the release of DIADL, we toured Europe twice a year, usually 3-week tours. So we stayed fairly busy, and it was a good way for me to get familiar with the fans, for the fans to know me, and for me to learn a bunch of the material as we changed the setlists during those tours.
He also added that he flew up to Stamford, CT, to record the drums at The Carriage House, which turned out great.
#26 Charlie Benante (Anthrax, Stormtroopers of Death)
Charlie doesn’t get the credit he deserves since he is one of the first drummers to perfect the double-bass style.
There are some theories he might be a creator of the common “blast beat” technique. Charlie is best known as the drummer for Anthrax and Stormtroopers of Death.
He is also a vivid Star Wars fan and has a life-size Han Solo in carbonite that Boba Fett signed. He confirmed this in an interview with one of the more popular metal magazines:
“I’ve a life-size Han Solo in carbonite that was actually signed by Boba Fett himself. He passed away about a year or two ago, so that’s a really rare piece.”
He went on to elaborate why Anthrax is the best place he can be:
“Anthrax has given me the potential to do the two things I love most: play music and make art. I often say I got my art education at the record company art departments.”
#27 Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Fear Factory, Testament)
Gene had high accuracy at extreme tempos, and that’s why he earned the names “The Atomic Clock” and “Human Drum Machine.”
Although he was a member of different bands, he is best known for his work with Testament, Dethklok, Devin Townsend, Fear Factory, Death, Strapping Young Lad, and Dark Angel.
When he was 13 years old, he got his first drum kit and was completely self-taught. In one of the interviews, Gene tells the story about the creation of the name “The Atomic Clock”:
“Heathen from the band Zimmer’s Hole had a motorcycle shop that Strapping Young Lad used to practice at. I remember I was working out [SYL’s] The New Black record at his place, and he came up and said, ‘Dude, you’re like the Atomic Clock on the drums!’ I just thought that was really fun, so I put that as a credit on one of the records. It just ended up sticking and it’s a nice wholesome nickname, unlike Mean Gene The Killing Machine.”
Hoglan also released an art collection in 2017. It consisted of long-exposure photography of him playing with drumsticks.
#28 Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell)
Vinny is a Brooklyn talent who started playing drums when he was 9 years old. He had the same teacher as his brother Carmine.
Vinny and John Lennon knew each other, and they collaborated on a few projects that John was producing at the time.
Vinny is best known to be a Dio, Black Sabbath, and Heaven & Hell member. In 1980 he joined Black Sabbath, and together they recorded “Mob Rules” and “Live Evil.”
In 2021 when Covid broke through and when the whole world was collapsing, he was asked to give his opinion on the current situation and to clarify how he adapted:
“Well, luckily, I’m doing a lot of stuff online. I got a drum show every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. on Facebook, sponsored by my drum company, and it’s an hour-long thing. I play music; I teach a little bit. That’s been keeping me busy, and I do a lot of sessions here, and that’s been keeping me busy. And then Last in Line, we’re working on the third album. So right now, we’ve got half of it done, and now we’re just sending ideas back and forth. We need to be in the same room together to finish. It’s that kind of band. So, I’ve been busy.”