Heavy metal fans are drawn to the genre in part because of the hardcore lyrics, screaming guitars, and dynamic rhythms. Most would agree that the drummer for these groups can make or break a band. The drummer generally remains in the background. Although they’re not the front men, their job is important and those who know about rhythms and their importance can be cynical of groups with average drummers. Some amazing talent in the percussion section of heavy metal has emerged over the past 40 years. Here are the 10 best heavy metal drummers of all time.
10. Danny Carey
Danny Carey is the drummer of the rock band Tool. He was born daniel Edwin Carey on May 10, 1961. He has been voted as one of the greatest drummers ever by Rolling Stone magazine. Carey has also played on a variety of albums for other groups and artists including Pigface, Skinny Puppy, Zaum, Green Jello, the Melvins, Lusk, Meat Puppets, Collide, Carole King, and several others. You can find out what he’s been up to lately by visiting his website.
9. Mike Portnoy
Mike Portnoy was the drummer of the progressive metal band Dream Theater. He is a co-founder of the group as well as serving as a backup vocalist. He spent 25 years of his career with the group, leaving in September of 2010. He retired from the group, but continue to work with other groups including The Winery Dogs, metal Allegiance, The Neal Morse Band, BPMD, Flying Colors, Transatlantic, and several others. He was born in April of 1967 and he is a native of Long Island, New York where he was born and raised. Portnoy is also a songwriter. The multitalented artist was voted as one of the best American drummers of all time.
8. Mike Lombardo
Fans of the heavy metal group Slayer will easily recognize the name, Mike Lombardo. The Cuban American drummer is one of the original co-founding members of Slayer. After playing on tours with the group and playing for nine Slayer albums, he left the band, but he didn’t retire. He was born to drum and that’s precisely what he is doing today. With a successful music career of more than 40 years, he has played for a variety of different groups, appearing on 35 commercial recordings across several different music genres. He has played for other groups including Suicidal Tendencies, Testament, Philm, Fantomas, Grip Inc., and others.
7. Lars Ulrich
Lars Ulrich is best known as the drummer of the wildly famous and successful heavy metal band Metallica. Ulrich is a Danish musician born in 1963. He is also a co-founder of the American band Metallica. He comes from a family of professional tennis players. He also had a passion for the sport. When he was just 16 years old he moved to the USA to train as a tennis pro. He discovered the drums after arriving. When he met James Hetfield and formed the group Metallica, his career goals took an abrupt change. Ulrich is also a songwriter who has collaborated on nearly every song Metallica has recorded.
6. John Bonham
John Bonham was an English songwriter and musician who served as the drummer of the heavy metal rock band Led Zeppelin. He was one of the most powerful and fastest rhythm men in the business during his era in the 1970s. Bonham died in September of 1980, but not before leaving his mark on the world. He has become revered as one of the best and most influential drummers in the history of rock and heavy metal music. He started playing drums at the tender young age of five. By the time he was 15, he was playing for local bands. He was destined to become a professional. He died t the age of 32 and left a huge hole in the hearts of bandmates and fans, but his legacy endures.
5. Neil Peart
Neil Peart is another member of the exclusive group of the world’s best drummers who has passed away. Peart was born in September 1952 and died in January 2020. He was best known as the drummer of the heavy metal band Rush. What made Neil stand out in the industry was that he also served as the primary lyricist for the group. He was a multi-talented musician who also won numerous awards for his musical contributions. In 1983, Neil Peart was inducted into the Modern Drummer Readers Poll Hall of Fame. He was also a published writer who wrote across multiple genres. He died at age 67.
4. Joey Jordison
Joey Jordison was best known as the drummer for the heavy metal band Slipknot. He was born Nathan Jonas Jordison in April of 1975. He passed away in July of 2021 from a long illness at the age of 46. He was a native of Des Moines, Iowa. Joey began playing the drums at the age of 8. He was an original member of Slipknot and remain with the band until 2014, when he left to form the band Scar the Martyr, from 2014 through 2016. He also drummed for Ministry, Satyricon, Korn, Metallica, and Rob Zombie, and before his death, for Sinsaenum.
3. Nicko McBrain
Nicko McBrain is the drummer for Iron Maiden. He is also a founding member of the group since 1980. Nicko has also played with other bands including Praying Mantis, Bullens, and others. He has been named by numerous publications as one of the best metal drummers in the world throughout his long and illustrious career. He was invited by Paiste to help develop a series of signature symbols as a hallmark of his professional expertise.
2. Jay Weinberg
Jay Weinberg was the next drummer to join the group Slipknot after the departure of Joey Jordison. His father was the drummer for Bruce Springsteen, Max Weinberg, so it’s apparent that the talent just runs in the family. He is one of the best drummers in heavy metal today.
1. Ray Luzier
Fans of the heavy metal group Korn will recognize the name Ray Luzier. he is the present drummer for the group and has been with them for over a decade. he first joined the band in 2006. Before that, he played with Stone Temple Pilots, Army of anyone, and the David Lee Roth band. His speed and agility make him one of the best heavy metal drummers of all time.