So you want to play heavy metal? From Testament to Helloween, Rainbow to Opeth, every one of your favorite bands drummers had to start somewhere. Even though we wish it were possible, no one was born a heavy metal powerhouse.
One of the most recognizable aspects of heavy metal is its drumming. With speeding machinegun-like double bass, piercing snares, and earth shattering cymbal work, heavy metal is based on a foundation of commanding and sometimes intimidating drum work.
Get ready to throw up your horns and bang your head because today is your first day of heavy metal drumming lessons.
Before we get to the examples, the first thing you must understand as a drummer is patience. We all want to play super fast right away, but it just isn’t a reality. Before you begin playing an important thing to do is to warm up before playing drums. For at least five minutes, stretch.
First, stretch your ham strings by gently bending down and trying to touch your toes. Hold for fifteen seconds, release, and then repeat two more times. Next, one by one grab the arch of your ankle and gently pull your leg behind your butt.
This will help stretch your quads. Once you have completed three sets, stretch your arms across your chest one at a time, grabbing your triceps with your opposite hand, stretching your shoulder. Finally, lift your arm behind your head, bend you elbow and touch the space between your shoulder blades, one arm at a time.
Now that you are a bit better warmed up, it’s times for the examples.
This first pattern is a bass double bass gallop, ending on an eighth note china/snare.
For more advanced drum players, the gallop can be done using a single foot with a rocking technique. For beginner drums players who have not yet developed their own form, it is best to use both feet.
This next example, as you can see, is very similar to the first except for the fact that it uses triplets instead of regular sixteenth notes.
This variation may not seem much more difficult, but it is. Take your time with the triplets, letting your feet discover their rhythm. This technique once again relies heavily on the china, as it is a staple in the heavy metal world.
A very rudimentary groove, this is an alteration of a very popular heavy metal pattern. This example can be played either slowly, giving it a ‘walking’ feel, or quickly, giving a more aggressive and heavy feel.
Notice that the bell of the ride, not the cymbal itself, is being struck in this example. This is a very common technique in heavy metal, giving a dim ringing feel instead of a full, shimmering explosion of sound.
These three examples can be used in a variety of ways, whether for in-your-face styled verses, or to add dynamics to a chorus. All three examples were left without a given tempo with hopes that you will try them out at different speeds. Experiment with these heavy metal drumming lessons, and implement them into your playing, whether that be jamming with some friends or writing music.
Good luck and practice hard!
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