Is Lars Ulrich a Good Drummer – Pro Drummer Comment

December 8, 2023

Is Lars Ulrich a good drummer? Is he really as bad of a drummer everyone makes him out to be?

This question often sparks debate. 

While not as technically advanced as some modern metal drummers, Ulrich’s distinctive style is instantly recognizable, a rarity in drumming. 

His role in Metallica goes beyond skill; he’s integral to their sound and responsible for composing their greatest hits. Ulrich’s uniqueness lies in his tailored approach to 

Metallica, making him irreplaceable despite not being a versatile, session-style drummer. 

Let’s delve into the unique impact Ulrich has had on Metallica and the world of drumming.

Key Points of Controversy in Lars Ulrich’s Drumming Style

  1. Technical Proficiency
  2. Complexity of Drum Parts
  3. Consistency in Timing
  4. Live Performance Reliability
  5. Use of Double Bass
  6. Innovation and Evolution
  7. Dependence on Editing and Studio Enhancements
  8. Influence on Modern Drumming

1. Technical Proficiency

Public PerceptionMany wonder is Lars a good drummer specifically because of the technique proficiency.

Professional Opinion: While Ulrich may not exhibit the extreme technical prowess seen in some metal genres, his proficiency should be measured in the context of Metallica’s music. 

His style, though simpler, is effective and integral to the band’s sound. It’s his unique approach, rather than sheer technicality, that has contributed significantly to Metallica’s success.

2. Complexity of Drum Parts

Public Perception: Some argue that Ulrich’s drum parts lack the complexity typically expected in metal music.

Professional Opinion: While Ulrich’s drumming is more about serving the song than showcasing complexity, a personal critique is his frequent use of licks, almost every three seconds. This frequent insertion of licks can sometimes feel excessive and detract from the overall flow of the music. 

Despite this, his straightforward style remains a key component in crafting some of Metallica’s most iconic tracks. 

The simplicity of his parts, coupled with strategic thought, shows that complexity in drumming isn’t just about technical intricacy but also about its effectiveness in driving the music.

3. Consistency in Timing

Public Perception: Doubts about Ulrich’s consistency, especially regarding timing and keeping a steady beat, are often brought up.

Professional Opinion: Ulrich’s timing might not always align with the metronomic precision seen in some drumming styles. This is something that “makes him a bad drummer”. Fortunately timing is not the only factor.

It’s important to consider that in the genre of heavy metal, especially in a band like Metallica, a slightly looser approach to timing can contribute to the raw and powerful feel of the music.

4. Live Performance Reliability

Public Perception: Ulrich’s reliability in live performances is sometimes questioned, with critiques focusing on the varying quality of his performances.

Professional Opinion: Performing live, particularly in a high-energy band like Metallica, poses unique challenges. Ulrich’s style, which is heavily influenced by the live atmosphere, can vary in its execution. 

While some inconsistencies might be noted, these are often overshadowed by the overall intensity and presence he brings to live performances. 

The variability in his live playing adds a level of spontaneity and authenticity that is crucial to Metallica’s live appeal.

5. Use of Double Bass

Public Perception: Critics often highlight Ulrich’s double bass technique as less advanced compared to drummers like Tomas Haake or Matt Garstka.

Professional Opinion: While it’s true that Ulrich’s foot technique may not match the complexity or speed of drummers known for their double bass proficiency, this doesn’t detract from his effectiveness. 

His style, though simpler, is more than sufficient for creating unique and memorable drum parts. 

A prime example is the iconic double bass section in Metallica’s “One.” This part, while not as technically demanding as some modern metal drumming, has become a defining moment in metal music. 

It showcases that Ulrich’s approach, prioritizing musicality over technical showcase, perfectly suits Metallica’s style and has a lasting impact on their sound.

6. Innovation and Evolution

Public Perception: There’s debate about whether Ulrich has evolved and innovated his style over the years.

Professional Opinion: Evaluating Ulrich’s career, it’s evident that his drumming has undergone subtle evolutions rather than dramatic changes. 

His innovation lies not in constantly altering his technique but in how he has adapted to Metallica’s evolving music while maintaining his distinctive style. 

This consistent yet adaptive approach has been crucial in preserving the band’s iconic sound over decades. 

Ulrich’s drumming may not be marked by drastic innovations, but his ability to evolve with the band while staying true to his roots is a form of innovation in itself

7. Dependence on Editing and Studio Enhancements

Public Perception: Some believe Ulrich’s studio recordings rely heavily on editing and enhancements, casting doubt on his raw drumming abilities.

Professional Opinion: In the modern recording industry, studio enhancements are a common practice, but they shouldn’t be seen as a reflection of a drummer’s skill. 

Ulrich’s use of studio technology, if any, complements his live performances, ensuring consistency in Metallica’s recorded music. 

His live performances, brimming with energy and power, are testament enough to his drumming abilities, demonstrating that studio enhancements are more about refining the final product than compensating for any lack of skill.

8. Influence on Modern Drumming

Public Perception: While Ulrich is a well-known figure in the drumming community, there’s discussion about the extent of his influence on modern drumming techniques and styles.

Professional Opinion: Lars Ulrich’s influence on modern drumming may not be defined by technical contributions but rather by his impact on the genre of heavy metal. 

His unique style and the success of Metallica have inspired countless drummers and shaped perceptions of what metal drumming can be. 

His role in one of the most successful metal bands in history has certainly influenced the direction of modern drumming, particularly in how drummers approach the heavy metal genre. 

His impact may be more subtle and stylistic, but it is significant in the context of drumming history, I think that answers common internet question Why doesn’t Metallica replace Lars?”


Is Lars Ulrich a good drummer? 

Despite criticisms about his technical proficiency and complexity, Ulrich’s distinct style has been crucial to Metallica’s iconic sound. 

His drumming, while not as technically advanced as some contemporaries, effectively shapes the band’s identity. 

Ulrich’s approach, focusing on musicality over technical showcase, proves his significance in heavy metal. 

His unique contributions, particularly in creating memorable drum parts, affirm his status as an influential drummer. 

Overall, Lars Ulrich’s impact on Metallica and heavy metal drumming is undeniable and profound.

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.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Drum That