#16: STEF BROKS (TEXTURES)
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 Stef Broks from Textures…
The modern state of metal and progressive music has reached a threshold; there are so many technical wizards out there that it is now almost necessary to establish some new criteria for excellence. There are plenty of drummers out there that play like machines, and others that quite literally are machines. But in an age where no feat of endurance or independence is impossible, there needs to be a bit of an “it-factor” in place to separate a great player from any other eight-armed cyborg. This being the case, Stef It-Factorson Broks is a name with which you need to be well-acquainted.
At 2005’s Modern Drummer Festival, Lamb of God’s Chris Adler said, “Drumming is not worrying about what you can’t do. It’s about having fun with what you can do.” There isn’t much Broks can’t do, but he sure has fun doing it. His mastery doesn’t lie in ludicrous fills or frighteningly fast double kick runs (not that he doesn’t have his fair share), but in his subtlety and taste for the non-conventional. There aren’t a lot of drummers who can create the most bludgeoning, brutal beat using just a kick, snare, and ride bell (“Laments of an Icarus”), or take a screwy 9/8 groove and make it feel as natural as a standard 4/4 breakdown (“Old Days Born Anew”).
While Broks is, by all accounts, a metal drummer, he is never limited by that fact, as his delicious cymbal work always makes clear. Do high-hat patterns get much cooler than his 16th-to-32nd note bursts in the middle of “To Erase a Lifetime?” No, no they don’t.
Stef is also a player who constantly finds new ways to challenge himself. On “Singularity,” the mid album standout on Textures most recent release, Dualism, he opens the song with a warped four over five polyrhythm that morphs seamlessly between the feel of a 4/4 triplet and a whacked out 5/4 pattern. Of course, he has the good sense right after the rhythmic swirl to break into a consistent head-bobbing groove, which still manages to be deceptively fucked up, continuing over the previously established 5/4 riff.
Given the number of lefties in the world, it comes as no surprise that left handed drummers are a bit of a rarity. I’m not sure if Broks has a doctor’s signature, but his enhanced analytic skills and creative slant (alleged lefty benefits) are certainly put to good use within the framework of his incredible style. There are probably drummers on this list who are faster or more incessantly technical than Stef, but few more memorable.
THE LIST SO FAR:
#17: Blake Richardson (Between the Buried and Me)
#18: Aesop Dekker (Agalloch, Ludicra, Worm Ouroboros)
#19: Shannon Lucas (The Black Dahlia Murder)
#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)