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The 5 Best Metal Drum Beats

Ash Pearson  /  UPDATED Jun 29, 2023

If you listen to metal, you’ve probably noticed certain beats coming up time and time again – and for good reason.

In this video, Ash Pearson from Revocation introduces five iconic heavy beats that every metal drummer should know (and if you don’t know, now you know).

1. Bembe beat

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This take on the Afro-Cuban groove uses an alternating 6 note pattern between cymbal and snare. Try hitting the right foot every time you use the right hand (in the video, Ash keeps the double bass going). You’ll hear it regularly from bands like Opeth and Death, plus Chris Pennie of Dillinger Escape Plan and Damon Che from Don Caballero have incorporated variations on the bembe into their drumming.

2. That beat from “One” by Metallica

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This one is basically a rite of passage for many double bass players. You’ll probably recognize the 16th note triplets right away. Try taking this idea and moving it around the kit.

3. Grind beat

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Think of it as a single stroke roll between your right foot and left hand. Your right hand plays with at the same time as your right foot. Bands like Pig Destroyer, Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, and Carcass brought this beat into popularity, but even jazz drummers like Louis Bellson were playing a variation of this back in the 30s.

4. Thrash beat

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We should give credit to the polka beat who brought this rhythm into existence. Bands like Dark Angel, Megadeth, Death, Slayer, and Metallica popularized it in a metal context. There are a million different things you can do with it.

5. Bomb blast

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Play a hammer blast (ie. your hands strike at the same time) but have your feet doing 16th notes underneath it – and that’s how a bomb blast is born. This iconic death metal beat was made popular by many bands including Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel.

If you aren’t familiar with the bands mentioned above, check them out! Learn the beats, impress your friends, and take your metal chops to the next level.

Ash Pearson is the drummer of Boston-based technical death metal band Revocation, and formerly of heavy metal band 3 Inches of Blood. He is also a member of Zimmers Hole and Old Black (featuring Jed Simon) and is affiliated with bands Ultra Earth and Ritual Dictates (featuring Justin Hagberg).

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