The Top 25 Modern Metal Drummers


  • Axl Rosenberg


MetalSucks recently polled its staff to determine 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 Shannon Lucas of The Black Dahlia Murder:

I hate to make Shannon Lucas’ drum playing sound like a Zagat’s write-up, but no joke, “elegant” and “tasteful”are the first words that spring to my mind when I think about the man’s work.

Take, for example, the section from  2:37 – 3:08 in The Black Dahlia Murder’s “I Will Return,” from 2009’s Deflorate. It’s basically the second half of Ryan Knight’s guitar solo. Forget what Knight is doing, because as much as I love his solo, it’s actually irrelevant to the conversation. Listen to the rhythm section instead: co-guitarist Brian Eschbach and bassist Ryan “Bart” Williams play the same straightforward-but-painfully-catchy part twice in a row, and yet partway through, the song begins to feel even more epic. The only thing that changes, really, is that Lucas begins to tap the ride cymbal. Simple, sure, but holy crap, it makes all the difference in the world — it literally changes the feel of the entire song. Most death metal drummers would probably try to raise the song’s proverbial stakes by playing increasingly crazy shit, but Lucas was just like, “Nah, I’m just gonna add a little bounce to it.” GENIUS.

Generally speaking, this is exemplary of Lucas’ approach to writing his drum parts. He can do all the same shit other metal drummers can do, but he doesn’t showboat — he just does what’s best for the song, and he ensures the music sounds all the better for his contribution. And his drum tone, both live and in the studio, is massive and warm, never tinny or harsh. (Credit where it’s due: I’m sure in the studio producers Mark Lewis and Jason Suecof have helped with the whole tone thing.) And although it might sound very antithetical to the entire nature of death metal, the result of Lucas’ style and sonic approach makes his drumming welcoming and fun to listen to. I know that there was a time when The Black Dahlia Murder were doing just fine without him, but there’s no doubt that they sound better with him.

(And, oh yeah, I guess I’m obligated to mention that once upon a time, Lucas was the best thing about All That Remains. There. I mentioned it.)

I’ve watched Lucas’ part of the Deflorate bonus DVD a whole bunch of times now, but it never really gets old — his movements are balletically smooth, and he just seems incapable of playing the wrong part for the song. Really, watch this and tell me you’re not in love with this dude’s playing:

See? Toldja.



#20: Ben Koller (Converge, All Pigs Must Die, United Nations, Acid Tiger)
#21: Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Fantômas, Grip Inc., Philm)
#22: Paul Bostaph
#23: Phil Dubois-Coyne (Revocation)
#24: Jade Simonetto (Hate Eternal)
#25: Mike Portnoy (Adrenaline Mob)

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