10 Most Underrated Heavy Metal Drummers of All Time


Image of metal band Gojira.

Gojira has one of the most underrated heavy metal drummers of all time in Mario Duplantier – Author Anne Erickson, Photo via Gabrielle Duplantier

A great metal drummer is a very special thing. I recently posted a feature highlighting some of the best heavy metal drummers of all time, and of course, it got a lot of comments. You guys, the listeners and readers, shared the many drummers that you thought should make the cut. You also shared some drummers who you think are often overlooked on best-of lists. So, who are the most underrated heavy metal drummers of all time? I present to you a new list.

Here are 10 metal drummers that are often underappreciated by the mainstream. Then again, metal isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, mainstream. But, these guys deserve to get some recognition for their place in heavy metal history.

Just for the record, Audio Ink Radio’s previous list of the best heavy metal drummers of all time included, from 10 to No. 1, Vinnie Paul, Mike Portnoy, Charlie Benante, Scott Travis, Bill Ward, John Bonham, Brann Dailor, Dave Lombardo, Danny Carey and Lars Ulrich.

10 Most Underrated Heavy Metal Drummers of All Time

10. Mike Bordin

Mike Bordin is best known as the drummer for Faith No More, but his experience goes well beyond just one band. He’s worked with everyone from Primus to Korn to Ozzy Osbourne. When it comes to his time with Ozzy, Bordin played with him starting in 1996, when Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward was dealing with some health issues. He also played with Ozzy’s solo band the following year. As for recordings, Bordin re-recorded drum tracks on Osbourne’s “Blizzard of Ozz” and “Diary of a Madman” albums for their 2002 remasters. So, yeah, he’s done it all.

9. Jimmy Chamberlin

Jimmy Chamberlin isn’t often categorized as a “metal” drummer, as fans often applaud him for his work in the Smashing Pumpkins. That’s why we left him off our earlier list. But, Chamberlin is just such a fantastic overall drummer that we have to give him some props. He’s one of the few rock drummers with a strong jazz background. He also cites Keith Moon and John Bonham as influences, so he’s got that heavy backbone.

8. Chris Adler

Chris Adler’s playing is fluid and covers the gamut of metal sounds. That’s why he’s been such a great fit for several different projects. Adler, of course, is the founder and drummer of Lamb of God. Aside from that band, he’s also played in Megadeth, Nitro, Darker Days, Grouser and more.

7. Morgan Rose

I hesitate on whether Sevendust can really be considered a heavy metal band, but they’re certainly melodic metal and hard rock, so let’s go with it. Morgan Rose is a founding member of Sevendust, and he’s helped the group thrive over the years. He has also held down drumming duties for Call Me No One, Methods of Mayhem and more. He’s simply a creative, feel-good drummer.

6. Vinnie and Carmine Appice

Is it fair to lump Vinnie and Carmine Appice together because they’re brothers? Maybe not, but it’s pretty cool, and rare, that these brothers both happen to be incredible drummers. Vinnie has held down rhythms for Dio, Black Sabbath and Heaven & Hell. Meanwhile, Carmine has played drums for Vanilla Fudge; Beck, Bogert & Appice; Rod Stewart; Blue Murder and more. What a musical family.

5. Mario Duplantier

When it comes to newer drummers on the scene, Mario Duplantier of Gojira is tops. Okay, Gojira isn’t too new, but they’re newer than a Metallica or Megadeth. Duplantier’s playing is very technical, and he uses complex polyrhythmic patterns and inventive jazzy fills.

4. Mikkey Dee

Swedish metal drummer Mikkey Dee has served behind the drum kit in the Scorpions since 2016. He’s an incredible player. After all, this guy has also played drums for Motorhead, Don Dokken, King Diamond, Helloween and more. I truly believe he’s one of the most underrated metal drummers of all time.

2. Gene Hoglan

First of all, Gene’s birth name is pretty awesome: Eugene Victor Hoglan II. Now that we have that out of the way, let me just say that Hoglan never seems to get the credit he deserves for providing such a great foundation for heavy metal music. He’s a very technical player, which is why we like to call him the “Human Drum Machine.” He’s played with Dark Angel, Fear Factory, Death, Strapping Young Lad, Testament and many more.

2. Tomas Haake

Swedish drummer Tomas Haake holds down the low end for extreme metal band Meshuggah. The thing that really stands out about Haake is his mesmerizing technical skills. He’s truly one of the most technical players of all time. Fun fact: He’s married to actress and musician Jessica Pimentel from “Orange is the New Black.”

1. Nicko McBrain

Up the Irons, as Nicko McBrain should absolutely get credit for being one of the best heavy metal drummers of all time. McBrain joined Iron Maiden in 1982, and he’s been with them ever since. He’s a huge part of the band’s success and longevity, but he often gets downplayed, with Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris getting most of the credit. Bruce and Steve are awesome, but so is McBrain.

So, there’s our list of the most underrated heavy metal drummers of all time. Find Audio Ink Radio’s list of the greatest heavy metal drummers of all time here.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Metal, Music