67 Best Metal Drummers

The world of metal drumming is incredibly vast and unique. There are so many sub-genres of metal, and that leads to hundreds of drummers putting their stamp on the industry with their incredible skills.

While I’m not the biggest metalhead, I grew up on Iron Maiden, and I regularly listen to plenty of modern metal bands.

If you’re looking for some good metal drummers to check out, here is the ultimate list. Every drummer that I’ve mentioned below is extraordinarily talented, and most of them will be remembered for many years to come.

Mike Portnoy

Mike Portnoy was the original drummer for Dream Theater. While he took more than a decade away from the band, he recently rejoined after doing some solo work projects with the band members.

Many people refer to Mike Portnoy as one of the best metal drummers to ever live. The music that Dream Theater put out in the late 20th century was mind-blowing, and many of the most complicated parts came straight from the mind of Portnoy.

He has incredible speed around the kit, but it’s his technical skill that has always impressed me the most.

Mike Portnoy

Dave Lombardo

Dave Lombardo is another hugely influential drummer in the metal music scene. He’s mostly known for playing drums for Slayer, but he’s been part of several other successful projects.

The reason he’s so popular is that many people consider him to be one of the pioneering drummers in the thrash metal scene. He’s a huge inspiration to drummers that heavily use double bass drum pedals and dual bass drum setups.

Dave Lombardo

Brann Dailor

Brann Dailor drums and sings in the band Mastodon. He’s an incredible drummer, but I think something that really sets him apart is his creative use of double bass drum patterns.

He uses double bass quite sparingly compared to most other drummers on this list, so it always sounds really impactful when the busy bass patterns occur in Mastodon tracks.

Brann Dailor

Joey Jordison

Joey Jordison was Slipknot’s original drummer, and I think many people will agree with me when I say that he was one of the most influential metal drummers of the late 90s and early 2000s.

I know dozens of drummers that started playing because of him, and he was widely regarded as one of the best drummers in the world in Slipknot’s prime.

He sadly died of an illness in 2021, and it was incredible to see how the entire music community came together to pay tribute to him. It wasn’t just metal musicians, which showed how much of an impact Joey had on the music world.

Joey’s drumming style was incredibly fast and technical. He was also seriously creative, accenting with snares and toms in odd places that no one else was doing at the time.

Joey Jordison

Gene Hoglan

Gene Hoglan has been a major member of several metal bands, including Dethklok, Testament, Dark Angel, and Fear Factory.

While his drumming is full of power and energy, he’s quite similar to Danny Carey in how he creatively uses percussion instruments to enhance his drum parts.

He’s quite an accomplished session drummer in the metal music industry, as he’s tracked drums for dozens of albums with different bands.

Gene Hoglan

Lars Ulrich

Lars Ulrich is one drummer that many people would argue shouldn’t be on this list. He’s definitely the least technically gifted drummer that I’ll mention, but you just can’t ignore the impact that he’s made on the metal music industry.

He’s been a main member of Metallica since its inception, which is one of the most well-known metal bands to ever exist.

If you’ve been the drummer for a highly regarded metal band for decades, your name will undoubtedly make the list of best metal drummers.

There are plenty of videos of Lars messing up drum parts on stage, but he also wrote those drum parts in the studio, and they all became highly memorable.

While saying Lars is a good drummer is controversial, I definitely think he’s one of the most influential drummers on this list, as so many top metal drummers grew up listening to Metallica.

Lars Ulrich

Chris Adler

Chris Adler was a main member of Lamb of God for over two decades before he left the band in 2019. He also did a short stint with Megadeth.

One of the key features of Adler’s drumming is that he plays open-handed. This allows him to orchestrate patterns a bit differently on the kit, giving his drumming a very distinct sound.

Chris Adler

George Kollias

George Kollias is one of the current members of Nile. I often think of him when considering classic metal drummers that thrive when playing blast beats and breakdowns.

He has immense speed with his feet, being able to reach seriously high BPMs when playing double bass drum patterns.

Nile has gone through a few drummers over the years, but Kollias has been one of the steadiest members of the group.

George Kollias

Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan

The Rev was another hugely influential metal drummer that died way too soon. He was one of the original members of Avenged Sevenfold, and he contributed a lot to writing song parts for the band.

He had a distinct way of playing the drums, and I remember trying to learn quite a few of his signature licks when I was younger.

He did one where he matched the double bass drum to ride bell notes, which always sounded incredible.

He died in 2009, and Avenged Sevenfold has gone through several drummers since. None of them has quite matched the impact that Jimmy Sullivan had on the band.

He also sang quite often, which is a feature that not many drummers offer.

Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan

Nicko McBrain

Nicko McBrain has been one of the biggest names in metal for several decades thanks to his work with Iron Maiden. He wasn’t the original drummer of the band, but he quickly became the most notorious one after joining.

The band started gaining major fame after he joined, so the band started basing songs around his style of drumming in the 80s. The rest is history!

Nicko McBrain

Igor Cavalera

Igor Cavalera was the original drummer for the band Sepultura. He has a very similar playing style to the band’s current drummer, Eloy Casagrande.

Cavalera is from Brazil, so he uses a lot of Brazilian influence in his playing, leading it to be quite rhythmic and vibrant.

He’s also very interested in hip-hop music, which is another big influence on his drumming style. The combination of hip-hop and Latin lends uniquely well to metal!

Igor Cavalera

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