Pioneering Speed and Power: The Evolution of the Drummer from Slayer

October 12, 2023

When you think of thrash metal’s relentless fury, Slayer stands tall, and the heartbeat of that rage? 

The drummer from Slayer. But “who is” this rhythmic force? Over the years, several drumming maestros have wielded the sticks for this iconic band. 

Dave Lombardo’s thunderous beats set the stage, Paul Bostaph’s precision added a new dimension, and Jon Dette’s brief stint brought his unique flair. 

Dive in to discover the men behind the monstrous beats and how each left an indelible mark on the world of heavy metal.

Dave Lombardo: The Thunderous Pioneer

Born in Havana, Cuba, Dave Lombardo’s journey to becoming a drumming legend began at a young age. 

His family’s move to Southern California exposed him to a vibrant music scene, and by the age of 16, Lombardo was already drumming away with fervor. 

In this very scene, he met Kerry King, and the two soon formed Slayer in 1981.

Lombardo’s drumming is nothing short of ferocious. Double bass drumming, intricate patterns, and breakneck speeds became his signature. 

His style wasn’t just about speed; it was about creating a rhythmic backbone that gave Slayer its aggressive edge. In the world of thrash metal, Lombardo’s influence is undeniable. He didn’t just play the drums; he made them sing, scream, and roar.

Two albums that stand out in Lombardo’s tenure with Slayer are “Reign in Blood” and “South of Heaven.” 

These records are milestones for the band and the entire thrash metal genre. Lombardo’s drumming on tracks like “Angel of Death” and “Raining Blood” showcased his unparalleled ability to combine speed with intricate patterns.


Why did Dave Lombardo leave Slayer?

Dave Lombardo left Slayer on multiple occasions, but the most notable departure in 2013 was due to disputes over financial arrangements. 

Lombardo raised concerns about how the band’s earnings were being distributed and was dissatisfied with the lack of transparency from the management. 

This disagreement led to his exit from the band shortly before a scheduled tour.

How many albums did Lombardo record with Slayer?

Dave Lombardo recorded nine studio albums with Slayer. Here they are, along with their release years:

  • Show No Mercy (1983)
  • Hell Awaits (1985)
  • Reign in Blood (1986)
  • South of Heaven (1988)
  • Seasons in the Abyss (1990)
  • Divine Intervention (1994)
  • Christ Illusion (2006)
  • World Painted Blood (2009)
  • Repentless (2015)

What other bands/projects has Lombardo been involved in?

Dave Lombardo has been involved in numerous bands and projects outside of Slayer. Some of the notable ones include:

  • Fantômas – An avant-garde metal supergroup.
  • Grip Inc. – A groove metal band.
  • Philm – An experimental post-hardcore trio.
  • Dead Cross – A hardcore punk band.
  • Suicidal Tendencies – A crossover thrash band.
  • Misfits – He played drums for them during a reunion tour.
  • Mr. Bungle-Lombardo joined them for their reunion shows.

Lombardo has also collaborated with various artists and contributed to numerous other musical endeavors throughout his illustrious career.

paul bostaph

Paul Bostaph: The Successor’s Beat

Stepping into the shoes of a legend is no easy feat, but Paul Bostaph wasn’t just any drummer. 

Before joining Slayer, Bostaph had already made waves with bands like Forbidden and Testament. His prowess was evident, and when Slayer needed a new drummer, Bostaph was the man they turned to.

While Lombardo’s drumming was a force of nature, Bostaph brought a different intensity. Precision and technicality were his trademarks. He wasn’t just trying to emulate Lombardo; he was carving out his niche. 

Bostaph’s drumming was tighter and more controlled, yet it retained the raw energy that Slayer was known for. His unique approach added a fresh dimension to Slayer’s evolving sound.

Bostaph’s tenure with Slayer saw the release of some monumental albums. “Divine Intervention” was his debut, and tracks like “Dittohead” showcased his impeccable timing. 

Then there’s “God Hates Us All”, an album that further solidified his place in the Slayer legacy.


How did fans react to Bostaph replacing Lombardo?

The fan reaction was mixed when Paul Bostaph replaced Dave Lombardo in Slayer. 

While many fans were initially skeptical, given Lombardo’s iconic status and significant influence on Slayer’s sound, others were open to the change. 

Over time, as Bostaph showcased his technical prowess and unique contributions to the band’s music, many fans grew to appreciate his skills and the fresh dimension he brought to Slayer’s evolving sound. 

However, a segment of the fanbase always preferred Lombardo’s style.

What other bands have Bostaph played for?

Paul Bostaph has showcased his drumming talents in several bands outside of Slayer. Notable ones include:

  • Forbidden – A thrash metal band where Bostaph began his professional drumming career.
  • Testament – Another influential thrash metal band.
  • Exodus – A pioneering band in the Bay Area thrash metal scene.
  • Systematic – A hard rock band where Bostaph played for a brief period.

Throughout his career, Bostaph’s drumming has been recognized for its precision and intensity, making him a sought-after musician in the metal genre.

jon dette

3. Jon Dette: The Brief Stint

Jon Dette’s chapter might be shorter in the grand tapestry of Slayer’s drumming legacy, but it’s no less significant. Before his stint with Slayer, Dette had already been drumming up storms with bands like Testament. 

His entry into Slayer was a whirlwind, a sudden call-up to fill in for a touring Lombardo.

Dette’s style was a blend of raw power and finesse. While he had the speed Slayer’s music demanded, he also brought a distinct rhythmic flair to the table. 

His drumming was aggressive, yet it had a certain melodic undertone that set him apart. Even in his brief time with the band, Dette left an impression, showcasing his ability to adapt and excel.

His time with Slayer was short-lived but memorable. Dette’s entry was during a turbulent period, and while he was primarily a touring drummer, his live performances with the band were electric. 

Fans and band members alike appreciated his dedication and the energy he brought to each show.


Why was Jon Dette’s time with Slayer so short?

Jon Dette’s time with Slayer was brief due to the circumstances of his entry. He became a touring drummer during a tumultuous period when Slayer’s regular drummer, Dave Lombardo, had left the band temporarily. 

Dette’s role was to ensure that the band’s commitments were met while they navigated personnel changes. Once Lombardo returned, Dette’s temporary role naturally came to an end.

Where did Dette go after leaving Slayer?

After leaving Slayer, Jon Dette continued his drumming journey by collaborating with various bands and artists. He joined bands like Testament and Anthrax for live performances. 

Additionally, Dette has remained active in the music industry, participating in recording sessions, touring, and showcasing his drumming skills across different projects and musical endeavors.


In the realm of thrash metal, the drummers of Slayer are the driving force behind the band’s relentless fury. 

These rhythmic powerhouses have left an indelible mark on heavy metal history. 

From Dave Lombardo’s thunderous beats that set the stage to Paul Bostaph’s precision that added a new dimension and Jon Dette’s brief yet impactful stint that brought a distinct flair, each drummer has contributed to Slayer’s iconic sound in their unique way.

Though their time with Slayer varied, the drummers’ legacies endure. The beats they unleashed still reverberate through the heavy metal landscape, inspiring new generations of metal drummers and fans alike. 

With every drum strike, they transformed music into a primal force, forever marking their place in the annals of heavy metal history.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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