Thrash metal, the linchpin of our modern metal universe. Born out of Cold War anxieties in the 1980's, thrash took traditional metal to grittier new heights and set the stage for all extreme sub genres to come. That and it's just really fun to listen to. Like who doesn't love a good neck snapping thrash break? Fast tempos, crunchy riffs, lyrics you can actually sort of understand, thrash metal is that special sweet spot for metal fiends, and thrash drummers are the ones who keep the infectious mosh train from derailing.
These guardians of the skank beat, these purveyors of double bass bursts, they keep your circle pits running at shows, and your shoes tapping during rush hour. This list isn't a scientific ranking of who's best, but rather a celebration of these hi-hat smashing heroes, and the sweaty work they do.
Thrash metal’s heyday was in the 1980’s, but you wouldn’t know that judging from Havok’s incendiary output over the last decade. Pete Webber has been the man behind the kit since 2011’s Time Is Up, pushing the band’s charge toward thrash metal mastery ever forward. Webber fuses immense power, precision, and truly gonzo drum fills into his playing, taking cues from the 80’s thrash metal playbook but injecting some 21st century ferocity into the mix as well. If there’s a modern day “Big Four” of thrash, Havok and Webber would definitely be amongst the top.
Mario Mortus has helped lead the SoCal heshers of Exmortus into glorious battle since their inception during the early days of the new millennium. As time marched on, and Exmortus’ profile in the metal community has grown, so too have Mario’s skills behind the kit. Dude crafts creative yet uber catchy fills, lays down some serious double bass, and looks like he’s about to drop an elbow off the top rope mid-song while playing live.
Fast, technical, vicious. Phil Dubois-Coyne’s playing with Revocation blurred the line between thrash, death metal, and sanity in general. When he wasn’t conducting hard hitting, in-depth video interviews for Metal Injection, or converting heathens into true believers as “Speedo Jesus,” Dubois spent the last decade shredding behind the drums with Revocation before officially exiting the band in 2015. Fear not drum fiends, if Phil's instagram is any indication, the man is back behind the kit in a semi-mysterious new project. Behold the enigmatic: Huffpit [we think].
Vektor seemed poised for great things, especially after the release of their much acclaimed 2016 album Terminal Redux. But shortly before the New Year, something derailed on the Vektor train and 3/4’s of the band jumped ship, including their mega talented drummer Blake Anderson. Anderson incorporates snazzy prog chops into his breakneck thrash playing, jumping between time signatures and blast beats when needed. Oh and did you see his unique [for the metal realm that is] set up? Floor toms only, none mounted. Dude likes pushing himself that’s for sure! Here’s hoping Anderson continues shredding in new projects down the road.
That's Dave Lombardo grooving out with Suicidal Tendencies. He also plays with The Misfits, upcoming super group Dead Cross, and used to keep time in a little group called: Slayer. What else can be said about Dave Lombardo? He’s the master. The speed, the power, the groove, not to mention the sheer joy this man exudes while playing, it boggles the mind. Watching Dave Lombardo play drums via internetz footage is a privilege we should not take for granted. It seems like only yesterday I was shelling out cold hard cash for 80’s Slayer bootlegs just to watch Lombardo’s shaggy hair occasionally creep out from behind the kit. Now you can watch his own HD GoPro footage for free 24/7…cherish this.
Fun fact: this author’s first concert ever was Slayer in 2002 w/ a newly reinstated Dave Lombardo on drums. His double bass solo on “At Dawn They Sleep” was so loud it hurt my ribs and I loved every second of it.
Related: 5 Insane Black Metal Drummers | 5 Insane Grindcore Drummers
BONUS LOMBARDO FOOTAGE:
Watch Dave record drums for Testament's The Gathering back in 98' HERE. Oh and watch him jam with some band called Metallica HERE.
Who are some of your favorite thrash metal drummers in the game?