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How To Play Metal Drums How To Play Metal Drums


How To Play Metal Drums

Written by: Merola Addington

Learn how to play metal drums with our comprehensive guide. Discover essential techniques and tips for mastering the art of drumming. Start your drumming journey today!

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Table of Contents


Welcome to the electrifying world of metal drumming! Whether you’re a seasoned drummer looking to delve into the exhilarating realm of metal music or a beginner eager to learn the ropes, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the essential knowledge and techniques to rock out with confidence. Metal drums play a pivotal role in shaping the thunderous and aggressive sound that defines this genre, making it an exciting and challenging instrument to master.

As a metal drummer, you’ll harness the power of thunderous beats, intricate patterns, and blistering speed to drive the energy of the music. The intense and dynamic nature of metal drumming demands precision, endurance, and creativity, setting it apart from other musical styles. Whether you’re drawn to classic heavy metal, thrash, death metal, or any of the other subgenres, the art of metal drumming offers an exhilarating and fulfilling musical journey.

Throughout this guide, we’ll explore the intricacies of metal drumming, from understanding the unique characteristics of metal drums to mastering advanced techniques and exploring different styles within the genre. By the end of this journey, you’ll be well-equipped to unleash your inner metal drummer and captivate audiences with your powerful and relentless rhythms.


Understanding Metal Drums

Before diving into the world of metal drumming, it’s essential to understand the unique characteristics of metal drums and how they contribute to the genre’s distinct sound. Unlike traditional acoustic drums, metal drums are designed to deliver a sharp, cutting, and aggressive tone that complements the intensity of metal music.

One of the defining features of metal drums is their construction. Typically made from materials such as steel, brass, or bronze, these drums produce a bright and penetrating sound that cuts through the dense layers of electric guitars and bass, characteristic of metal music. The use of metal shells and hardware enhances the resonance and projection of the drums, allowing them to maintain their clarity and impact even in high-volume settings.

Another crucial component of metal drum setups is the choice of cymbals. Metal drummers often opt for cymbals made from bronze or a combination of metals, as these materials produce the piercing and shimmering tones that are synonymous with the genre. From crisp hi-hats to explosive crashes and cutting rides, the cymbals in a metal drum kit are carefully selected to complement the aggressive and dynamic nature of the music.

Furthermore, the tuning of metal drums plays a significant role in achieving the desired sound. Metal drummers often tune their drums to produce a focused and resonant tone, emphasizing the attack and clarity of each strike. This tuning approach allows for precise articulation and ensures that the drums cut through the mix with precision, adding impact and definition to the music.

Understanding the sonic characteristics and construction of metal drums is fundamental to harnessing the power and aggression required for metal drumming. By embracing the unique qualities of metal drum kits, drummers can unleash their creativity and drive the relentless energy that defines the genre.


Choosing the Right Equipment

When venturing into the realm of metal drumming, selecting the appropriate equipment is crucial for achieving the powerful and aggressive sound that defines the genre. From drum shells to cymbals and hardware, each component plays a pivotal role in shaping the sonic landscape of metal music.

First and foremost, the selection of drum shells is a critical decision for metal drummers. Opting for metal shell drums, such as those made from steel or brass, can significantly enhance the overall projection and brightness of the sound. These materials are renowned for their ability to deliver a sharp and cutting tone, perfectly suited to the demands of metal music. Additionally, the thickness of the drum shells can impact the sustain and resonance, allowing drummers to tailor their sound to suit their preferences.

Equally important are the cymbals, which contribute to the dynamic and explosive nature of metal drumming. Choosing cymbals made from bronze or a blend of metals can provide the shimmering and penetrating tones that are synonymous with the genre. From fast and responsive hi-hats to thunderous crashes and articulate rides, the right selection of cymbals can elevate the impact and expressiveness of a metal drum kit.

Hardware durability is also a key consideration, given the high-energy playing style and relentless performance demands of metal drumming. Sturdy and reliable hardware, including robust pedals, stands, and mounts, is essential for withstanding the aggressive playing techniques and ensuring stability during intense performances.

Furthermore, the choice of drumheads can significantly influence the overall sound and response of the drums. Opting for durable and responsive drumheads designed for heavy hitting and aggressive playing styles can enhance the articulation and projection of each strike, allowing drummers to unleash thunderous beats with precision and clarity.

By carefully selecting drum shells, cymbals, hardware, and drumheads that align with the sonic and performance requirements of metal drumming, drummers can construct a formidable drum kit that empowers them to unleash their creativity and drive the relentless energy that defines the genre.


Basic Techniques

Mastering the fundamental techniques is essential for any aspiring metal drummer. These foundational skills form the backbone of your playing and provide the groundwork for executing more complex patterns and fills with precision and power.

1. Double Bass Pedal Control: A hallmark of metal drumming, the double bass pedal allows for rapid and relentless bass drum patterns. Developing control and coordination between your feet is crucial for executing lightning-fast double bass patterns with accuracy and endurance. Practice exercises that focus on building speed, stamina, and independence between the bass drum pedals to unlock the full potential of this essential metal drumming tool.

2. Blast Beats: A defining element of extreme metal genres, blast beats demand rapid and relentless alternating patterns between the snare drum and bass drum. Mastering blast beats requires developing the ability to play at high speeds while maintaining consistency and precision. Start by practicing slow, controlled blast beat patterns and gradually increase the tempo as your control and endurance improve.

3. Aggressive Snare Work: Metal drumming often features aggressive and intense snare drum accents and ghost notes. Focusing on developing powerful rimshots, tight ghost notes, and explosive snare fills can elevate the impact and dynamics of your playing, adding depth and intensity to your drumming style.

4. Dynamic Control: Metal music encompasses a wide range of dynamics, from thunderous, full-force sections to subtle, nuanced passages. Mastering dynamic control allows you to navigate these shifts with finesse, delivering impactful and expressive performances. Practice transitioning smoothly between different dynamic levels, from soft ghost notes to thunderous accents, to imbue your playing with depth and emotion.

5. Precision and Speed: Metal drumming often requires lightning-fast fills, rolls, and patterns. Developing precision and speed through focused practice and exercises is essential for executing intricate and rapid passages with clarity and accuracy. Work on building dexterity and control in both hands and feet to unleash blistering fills and complex rhythms with confidence.

By honing these foundational techniques, aspiring metal drummers can lay a solid groundwork for their musical journey, equipping themselves with the skills and control necessary to tackle the relentless energy and technical demands of metal drumming.


Advanced Techniques

As a metal drummer, delving into advanced techniques opens up a world of creative possibilities and elevates your playing to new heights of precision and power. These techniques require dedication, practice, and a relentless pursuit of mastery to command the intricacies of extreme metal drumming.

1. Polyrhythms and Odd Time Signatures: Embracing polyrhythms and odd time signatures adds complexity and depth to your drumming. Experimenting with patterns that layer different rhythmic subdivisions over the music’s pulse can create intricate and captivating textures. Develop a keen sense of internal pulse and subdivision to navigate complex rhythmic structures with confidence.

2. Ghost Notes and Subtle Articulation: Mastering the art of ghost notes and subtle articulation allows for nuanced and expressive drumming. Incorporating intricate ghost note patterns and subtle accents within grooves and fills adds depth and sophistication to your playing, enhancing the overall musicality and dynamics of your performance.

3. Extended Limb Independence: Pushing the boundaries of limb independence enables you to execute complex and syncopated patterns across the drum kit. Developing the ability to play intricate rhythms with independence and precision between your hands and feet unlocks a world of creative possibilities, allowing you to weave intricate textures and polyrhythmic patterns seamlessly into your drumming.

4. Extreme Metal Styles: Exploring subgenres such as death metal, black metal, and grindcore introduces unique stylistic elements that demand technical prowess and adaptability. Embrace the relentless speed, complex patterns, and aggressive textures characteristic of these styles, and hone your ability to deliver uncompromising performances that embody the ferocity and intensity of extreme metal drumming.

5. Incorporating Electronics and Triggers: Integrating electronic elements and triggers into your drum setup expands the sonic palette and versatility of your playing. Experiment with triggering samples, incorporating electronic pads, and integrating electronic effects to add depth and modernity to your sound, creating a fusion of acoustic power and electronic innovation.

By immersing yourself in these advanced techniques, you’ll embark on a journey of continual growth and innovation, pushing the boundaries of your drumming prowess and unlocking the boundless potential for creativity and expression within the realm of metal music.


Metal Drumming Styles

Metal music encompasses a diverse array of subgenres, each with its own distinct characteristics and drumming styles. From the thunderous rhythms of classic heavy metal to the blistering speed and aggression of extreme subgenres, metal drummers navigate a rich tapestry of styles, each demanding unique technical prowess and creative expression.

1. Classic Heavy Metal: Characterized by driving rhythms, powerful grooves, and anthemic choruses, classic heavy metal drumming emphasizes solid backbeats, energetic fills, and dynamic cymbal work. Drummers in this style often showcase a balance of precision and showmanship, driving the music with infectious energy and flair.

2. Thrash Metal: Thrash metal drumming is defined by its relentless speed, intricate patterns, and explosive energy. Drummers in this style execute rapid-fire double bass patterns, aggressive snare accents, and lightning-fast fills, propelling the music with unrelenting intensity and ferocity.

3. Death Metal: Known for its brutal and technical nature, death metal drumming features complex rhythms, blast beats, and rapid-fire double bass passages. Drummers in this style navigate intricate song structures and execute blistering fills and patterns with precision and power, driving the music with unbridled aggression and technical prowess.

4. Black Metal: Black metal drumming embraces a raw and atmospheric approach, often featuring blast beats, tremolo-picked guitar riffs, and relentless cymbal work. Drummers in this style evoke an aura of darkness and mystique, delivering hypnotic and frenetic rhythms that contribute to the genre’s haunting and immersive sonic landscape.

5. Progressive Metal: Progressive metal drumming encompasses a wide range of styles, characterized by its complex time signatures, intricate polyrhythms, and dynamic shifts. Drummers in this style navigate intricate song structures and execute intricate patterns and fills, contributing to the genre’s expansive and innovative musical landscape.

6. Metalcore and Djent: Metalcore and djent drumming fuse elements of metal and hardcore punk, featuring syncopated grooves, intricate double bass patterns, and explosive breakdowns. Drummers in these styles deliver a blend of technical precision and raw power, driving the music with relentless energy and rhythmic complexity.

Embracing the diverse styles within the metal genre provides drummers with a rich tapestry of sonic textures and creative opportunities, each style offering a unique platform for technical innovation, expressive drumming, and unbridled musical intensity.


Tips for Improving Your Skills

Continual growth and refinement are essential for aspiring metal drummers seeking to elevate their playing to new heights of precision, power, and creativity. Here are valuable tips and strategies to enhance your skills and embark on a fulfilling journey of musical development:

1. Focused Practice: Devote dedicated practice sessions to honing specific techniques and patterns. Whether it’s refining double bass control, mastering blast beats, or developing limb independence, focused practice allows you to target areas for improvement and make tangible progress in your playing.

2. Metronome Mastery: Integrate a metronome into your practice routine to cultivate a strong sense of timing and rhythmic precision. Practicing with a metronome hones your ability to play in perfect time, develop consistency, and internalize challenging tempos, laying a solid foundation for tight and controlled drumming.

3. Study Diverse Styles: Expand your musical horizons by studying diverse metal drumming styles. Embracing the nuances of classic heavy metal, thrash, death metal, black metal, and progressive metal exposes you to a wide range of techniques and approaches, enriching your musical vocabulary and broadening your creative palette.

4. Transcribe and Analyze: Transcribing drum parts from your favorite metal songs and analyzing the playing of influential drummers provides valuable insight into stylistic nuances, creative approaches, and technical prowess. Studying and deconstructing drum performances enhances your understanding of musical composition and fosters inspiration for your own playing.

5. Physical Conditioning: Metal drumming demands physical endurance and stamina. Incorporating physical conditioning exercises into your routine, such as cardio workouts, strength training, and flexibility exercises, enhances your physical resilience and supports your ability to deliver high-energy performances with consistency.

6. Jamming and Collaboration: Engage in regular jam sessions with other musicians and seek collaborative opportunities to develop your improvisational skills and adaptability. Jamming with fellow instrumentalists cultivates musical synergy, creativity, and adaptability, enriching your musical experience and fostering a deeper understanding of musical dynamics.

7. Seek Performance Opportunities: Embrace live performance opportunities, whether in a band setting, jam sessions, or open mic events. Performing in front of an audience hones your stage presence, adaptability, and ability to deliver impactful and engaging performances, fostering confidence and musical growth.

By incorporating these tips into your practice routine and musical journey, you’ll cultivate a well-rounded skill set, foster creative expression, and embark on a fulfilling path of continual improvement and innovation as a metal drummer.



Embarking on the exhilarating journey of metal drumming opens the door to a world of relentless energy, technical precision, and creative expression. Aspiring metal drummers are invited to embrace the thunderous rhythms, intricate patterns, and unbridled intensity that define the genre, cultivating a deep understanding of the unique characteristics and demands of metal drumming.

From mastering foundational techniques to delving into advanced skills, the pursuit of metal drumming excellence is a testament to dedication, passion, and a relentless pursuit of musical innovation. By honing precision, power, and creativity, metal drummers shape the sonic landscape of the genre, driving the music with unyielding energy and dynamic expression.

Exploring the diverse styles within the metal genre provides a rich tapestry of sonic textures and creative opportunities, each style offering a unique platform for technical innovation, expressive drumming, and unbridled musical intensity. Whether navigating the relentless speed of thrash metal, the technical complexity of death metal, or the atmospheric allure of black metal, metal drummers find themselves at the forefront of musical innovation and sonic exploration.

As the thunderous heartbeat of metal music, metal drummers command a unique blend of power, precision, and creativity, propelling the genre with unrelenting energy and dynamic expression. The relentless pursuit of mastery, the embrace of diverse styles, and the commitment to continual growth and refinement define the path of the metal drummer, forging a musical journey that resonates with passion and innovation.

With focused practice, a thirst for musical exploration, and a dedication to creative expression, aspiring metal drummers can unleash their inner power and drive, shaping the sonic landscape of metal music with unyielding intensity and unwavering artistry. The journey of metal drumming is a testament to the unrelenting pursuit of musical excellence, technical innovation, and the boundless potential for creative expression within the dynamic and electrifying realm of metal music.

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