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drummers and the masters of the blastbeat
I just love it, that's all
I just love to watch drummers play creative blastbeats with the metal band. Unfortunately, that is happening less and less.
So now I will retell some of my fond memories of seeing my favourite drummers and their bands live and you can come along!
Editor's note: do not attempt to pursue this as a vocation. It is not a life work, but a hobby. My personal opinion is to take practicing and competing against yourself seriously, but not "the scene" or promotion or anything of that nature. This will help you avoid the many shipwrecks that come with this territory. Just play tennis or music or something, have fun and go on with your life. Thank you for listening.
Gustav is a quiet, thoughtful guy with glasses off stage, but the most powerful drummer I think I've experienced in my lifetime. He uses large sticks and really blasts the drums while playing blastbeats. If you don't like feeling the music through your chest, you should stand off to the side. The full force, straight ahead blasts are just what my body needed as shock treatment after a long week of frustrating work. His work with Crimson Moonlight was where I saw him, but his work with Exhale and Antestor live is equally as powerful from the videos. I got to see the Advent of the Grim Hour tour and it was worth it.
Swing your blastbeat
Although I've heard him play before, I got to meet Derek Roddy at Vic's Drum Shop in Chicago during their grand opening. His slow Southern accent, sense of humour, and focus on what's ahead in life are the opposite of his take-no-prisoners blasting. He once referred to himself in a joke on his forum as "king of all swings" in reference to a song, and that actually describes his playing pretty well. He was the first one to get me to think in terms of jazz swing patterns overlaying the traditional blasting pattern, for a half-time jazz, double time metal feel at the same time. Multiple snare and tom work are certainly not the norm for such fast music, but he pulls rock backbeats, guitar accents, and configuring drum sounds out of his back pocket while blasting like a maniac. The video below shows a few of his better ideas (taken from non metal drummers and super-imposed onto top!) that have inspired many drummers! I got to see the I, Monarch tour and it was worth it.
Learn from Kollias!
George is fast and accurate, with probably the strongest and fastest feet ever. Even though I knew what to expect going in, I still had to hunt around in the dark and the flashing lights to find my jaw which had dropped into the abyss of feet below. His swivel technique for playing blasts single-footed is oft-imitated but nigh copied, and Nile (his band) at the no-room-for-spikes, cozy Reggie's Rock Club provided the up close experience to one of the wonders of the world. In this video, I enjoy how he changes up the bass drum playing with this feet during the blasts in several interesting ways. Keep an eye out for playful foot play complementing his strong and accurate blasting on top. Marvelous! I got to see the Those whom the gods detest tour and it was worth it.
Blastbeats are a multi-rhythm force
I haven't met John, but I wish I had, as he seems pretty funny in the interviews. That aside, the smoke/fog of the show mystique really works in his favour because, being one of the more innovate blasters around, you can never quite figure it out. It being, "How does he do that on the recording?" All the fans rave about his heel-toe method for playing the bass, but I find his cymbal play and accuracy much more fascinating. He is a very musical blaster; it is a pretty brutal dance on the drums. Pretty versus brutal in a dance to the death (metal) almost. It is still very loud, but so graceful. Slow motion is how it feels, in fast speeds hard to comprehend. I got to see the Antithesis tour and it was worth it.
Learn to flow from Flo!
I remember hearing Flo play for the first time on "...and then you'll beg" and immediately jumping up yelling, "This guy sounds like me". I had found someone who couldn't colour inside the lines like I couldn't (Flo is much better than I). His jazzy blasting, freaked out accents, and almost-out of-control-but-not-quite drum fills and passage links put a smile to my face in an over-technological and cut-and-dry world I live in. His phrasing of fast passages makes it more palatable to digest at first, and his variety of blasts (gravity, death, black, bomb, thrash) keep things interesting and fresh. I got to see the Once Was Not tour and it was worth it.
People will often say, "but I'm not a black metal goth, and I don't like screaming, so I can't listen to this". My opinion in this article is watching this style of music live is exciting and inspiring, no matter what part of the caste system I am a part of. Am I at the top, as CEO? It's fun to watch (and attempt to play). Am I at the bottom, as a homeless bum? It's fun to watch. You won't hear me judging these performers, as I can enjoy some pop music and also enjoy watching this music live. If you can find live music where it is more music than propaganda and drama, you should too!
It is often said that this music is non-musical, made by hacks with no musical bone in their body who just bash the drums and scream off-key. I say that it is hyper-musical, in that it really does take mental musical focus to be able to play and understand the music. It is not appropriate in all circumstances, but there are much worse hobbies and activities that youth can have besides attempting to master an instrument like the drums.
I don't think the artform will last too much longer -- people crave security and relaxing much more than "attempting the impossible" -- but I am glad that I got to see some of the best ever give stunning performances. I've seen a few other greats, but these guys stick out in my mind.