Alight guys, sorry I haven’t posted an article in a while, but I’m here now with something I think is kinda cool and rarely gets talked about in the metal world: Groove.

Some of you guys may know just how much I love a rhythm that grooves, something that just makes you want to bob your head to it, and there’s more to it than just getting playful with the accents or syncopating a beat. There are the more subtle aspects, the kind that sometimes don’t translate so well to recordings. I mean, what is groove exactly and what gives it that “feel”? Who in the band really affects the level of groove — is it just the drummer, the drummer and the bassist, or the band as a whole?

What the hell am I on about exactly? Check out some gospel drummers (guys like Eric Moore and Aaron Spears for some more well known examples). Those guys are like the metal drummers of R&B in some ways; they hit hard as shit, are incredibly fast and play incredibly clean, much like metal drummers, but yet there is that “feel” that they have. They can play a simple rock beat, and yet it seems to have a swing to it without actually swinging the beat.

To me at least, I feel like a lot of metal drummers focus on getting tight and perfect, getting good to a click, and as such the recordings are tuned to that sound, everything is perfect, even, mechanical and consistent. And honestly there is nothing wrong with that because that’s part of what made metal metal! But every now and then I hear a drummer in a heavy context that really throws some groove in, who has some of that gospel influence. Look at Mario Duplantier from Gojira, Steve Judd from Karnivool or Abe Cunningham from the Deftones. Hell, listen to Brad Wilk’s grooves with Rage Against the Machine. They all have that feel, hitting ever so slightly behind the beat, using those ghost notes to get the dynamics rolling, and keeping that hi-hat pedal tapping away to establish the pulse but keeping it on a consistent tempo (even if they arent tracking to a click).

I think this is an important thing in any style of music, but it really sticks out in metal for me. So many drummers who work on their technique almost play TOO perfectly to the point of the beat sounding cold and lifeless. Sure, it sounds perfect and works on paper, but it doesnt have that je ne sais quoi to it!

But it’s more than just the drummer. In a live situation especially, if you have the other members in the band try to match that groove — and on certain parts really try to lay into the groove and play just the slightest bit late, like I’m talking microseconds — it would barely be noticeable and yet it would be totally obvious when you hear it. In a good way!

Just some food for thought for all of you guys in bands. Maybe next practice try to experiment with it and see what happens. I have seen drummers with that kinda feel try a stiff beat like a blast beat and successfully make it sound more organic and natural (see Mario Duplantier live and you will know what I mean).

Anyways, that’s my lil rant for now! Once again feel free to comment with ideas for future columns!


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