#20: BEN KOLLER (CONVERGE, ALL PIGS MUST DIE, UNITED NATIONS, ACID TIGER)
MetalSucks recently polled its staff to determine who are The Top 25 Modern Metal Drummers, and after an incredible amount of arguing, name calling, and physical violence, we have finalized that list! The only requirements to be eligible for the list were that the musician in question had to a) play metal (duh), b) play drums (double-duh), and c) have recorded something in the past five years. Today we continue our countdown with Ben Koller from Converge, All Pigs Must Die, United Nations, and Acid Tiger…
It’s no coincidence that Converge’s 2001 album Jane Doe, widely considered to be the band’s finest hour and one of the best albums of the 21st century by many (including our own humble web rag), was also the first Converge record to feature Ben Koller on drums. The album featured the band’s most pointed, sinister songs and best production to date. But the addition of Koller clinched it. Converge had found a drummer flexible enough to follow their twisted narratives to whatever sordid corners they went, and combustible enough to explode once they got there.
Take a listen to Koller’s kit work on Jane Doe’s “Fault and Fracture,” or the title track from No Heroes, or “Heartless” off You Fail Me, and you’ll hear a drummer with metal chops, punk soul and jazz imagination. Koller’s d-beats sound less precise than they actually are, because they’re peppered with the kinds of tiny fills and textural shifts that suggest he’s thinking about more than just propulsion. He’s adding color, ripping holes in the fabric of Converge’s already tattered-sounding songs. If Koller invests metal and punk drumming with subtlety, he can also bring down the hammer like the best of them. Buildings collapse on No Heroes’ “Grim Heart / Black Rose” and “Worms Will Feed / Rats Will Feast” off Axe to Fall, all thanks to Koller’s power and impeccable sense of space – motherfucker hits HARD.
Converge will probably always be the ideal outlet for Ben Koller’s playing, because their stop-on-a-dime music gives him such wide latitude to fuck around. But some of his most impressive work is with comparatively straightforward bands. Hearing him rumble and blast in unchanging 4/4 on All Pigs Must Die’s gloriously hateful 2011 album God Is War is a complete revelation. He’s easily the most interesting thing about Acid Tiger. And while his involvement in the screamo supergroup United Nations has never been officially confirmed, the band’s two releases bear Koller’s umistakeable multi-angle sticksmanship, as unfettered as ever. This guy can do anything.
THE LIST SO FAR: