#9: CHRIS ADLER (LAMB OF GOD)
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 Lamb of God’s Chris Adler…
Most of the commonly agreed-upon “greatest” drummers are ones that seem to achieve the impossible. Fills that defy space and time, syncopated double-bass runs that drop jaws, thick grooves that demand one shake one’s tush; these facets only begin to comprise the cannon of what makes a stellar drummer — obviously feel and creativity are both also essential, as well as the ability to strike the oft-difficult balance between neither under- nor over-playing.
What resonated with me about Chris Adler’s playing upon the very first listen is that he brought such a wide melange of drum skills to the table (all of the above and more) and the guy didn’t even start out as a regular drummer, for chrissakes! Legend has it that Adler was a touring bass player in other bands before deciding to switch full-time to the drums.
Initially it was the groove that struck me. It’s no secret that I grew up a fiery funkhead…..The Meters, James Brown, Sly Stone, Tower of Power, etc…..a tasty pocket has always stirred me, but at some point along the way old-school funk grooves just weren’t HEAVY enough for me anymore. So I branched out to a much more aggressive arena, and in my musical meanderings came across an album called New American Gospel by a band called Lamb of God, and my socks were literally blown off. Okay maybe not literally, but I seriously couldn’t believe that such FUNKY grooves existed to this extent of heaviness. And it all comes back to Adler — he is the epicenter of what makes your head bob and your pants wet.
This was several years ago, and although I most certainly continue to feel that way to this day, after delving deep into LoG’s extremely impressive cannon of releases I have come to realize that furthermore the drum tones on New American Gospel require major mention as well, perhaps more than anything else, since they seem to have changed so dramatically for every album that followed. The muted thumping quality to the toms offsets Adler’s sharp snare and contrastingly bell driven/washy cymbals, and combined with his retardedly proficient execution of impossible fills and diverse double-bass patterns, a very tribal earthy feel came across.
Since then, Adler’s toms have gotten tuned up and his entire kit sounds way crispier –and mind you, that is neither a criticism nor accolade– which may have sacrificed a certain level of originality in how his drums sound, but the precision and groove hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, the higher tonal quality on subsequent albums like Ashes of the Wake and Sacrament allow for a sharper separation of drum sounds, and I posit that this clarity is a significant component that has contributed to the band’s enormous upsurge in popularity and success. People really like to hear what they’re listening to. Go figure.
Clearly I am a huge fan of this drummer and his band, and despite LoG’s recent downward trend towards regurgitated songwriting (simply my opinion), it is crucial to consider Adler in any exploration of the best modern metal drummers/musicians. I was surprised that neither of the guitarists from this group made our list of the top 25 modern metal guitarists, but that’s a whole other story. There is something so fiercely signature about Chris Adler’s style, attack, drum tone, technique, and feel. I’m a believer.
THE LIST SO FAR:
#10: Sean Reinert (Cynic)
#11: Dave Witte
#12: Navene Koperweis (Animals as Leaders, Animosity, Fleshwrought)
#13: Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork, Scarve)
#14: Kevin Talley
#15: Morgan Rose (Sevendust)
#16: Stef Broks (Textures)
#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)