I am an amateur drummer, and I can play a bunch of rock songs and other styles too, but death metal is way too extreme for me. So I have always wanted to know if any drummer can play it, or just death metal drummers.

I believe most professional drummers have the necessary speed and technique, but maybe not the resistance to play it straight for an hour, for example.

The question is: In general, can a professional drummer play in a death metal band without very specific training?

(The death metal I'm refering here is Nile, Necrophagist, Obscura...)

  • 2
    Have you seen the movie Whiplash? It's about a jazz college, not rock, but the central character is a young drummer who needs to prove he has the chops to play at double time, whilst keeping time. One of the only 'music movies' I've ever seen that does a decent job of portraying the music world as it is. – Tetsujin Jun 15 '18 at 7:07
  • @Tetsujin I love this movie! – coconochao Jun 15 '18 at 15:46
  • TEHO, I've always found that Delicatessen does a decent job of portraying the music world. :) – luser droog Jun 16 '18 at 1:47

General musical training will not be genre specific, with the exception of classical vs. modern training.

You question is a little off topic for a general music question as it is based on (1) being an amateur, and (2) some preconceived notion about being a professional.

So, I'd throw the question back to you in a different context... Surgeons all have medical and surgical training so can an orthopedic surgeon operate a heart or do they need special training?

Perhaps not a fair question, more like a false equivalence. But it illustrates the point. All professional musical training will focus on chop building, reading, performance, etc. To get through a curriculum you need to prove you have chops. But these chops do not prepare you for the idiosyncrasies of a specific genre of music and the demands it places on the musician. So a better question might be can a professional drummer play as fast as...

One potential false implication in your question is that death metal drummers are not professional, though I don't think you meant to imply this. For all we know the drummer for Decapitated or Dying Fetus went to Julliard. Professional training teaches the musician to move optimally, without wasting energy, like Bruce Lee's 1 inch power punch. You don't spend all you effort moving as fast as you can you learn to move gracefully and speed comes with that.

I would venture to guess that a professional percussionist could tap out a death metal fill or rudiment at speed. They may take some extra practice to become familiar with the specific fill but in theory there is no reason to expect they would choke. An altogether different issue is whether the average working drummer (with a three or four piece kit) would be able to easily play on a Chad Wackerman or Neil Peart kit. Some metal drummers have kits like these. That is like learning a new instrument and may take a little while to get used to.

Going the other way, a lot of "famous" rock stars, while talented, came up playing one type of music and are self taught. As a result many don't venture away form their roots. There are some pretty well known rock drummer that couldn't play a simple back beat or a swing grove. So I'd place my bet on the pro adapting to metal rather than a metal specialist playing something simple that isn't a fast 4/4.


I would say yes and no, depending.

(Is that wishy washy enough for you?)

Once you get to a certain level I think it becomes easier to fake a style of music that you have not really studied in depth or practiced much. They may easily be able to get away sitting in, but not good enough to record an album or go on tour (or even play a show)

Are some drumers better outside of their comfort zone than others, absolutely. It really just depends.

For an average drummer or beginner this will be much harder.

As far as endurance goes, again depends on the person. There are other styles of music (including jazz) that can be just as demanding. If the drummer is in good shape, drumming wise, it may not be an issue.

I think a bigger issue may be tone. Are the drums the proper sizes and tuned appropriately to play that style and sound correct. How about the cymbals? Does the kit have a double bass drum?

Actually using a double bass drum might be the hardest thing about playing death metal as your left foot may not be used to playing a bass drum at all and it takes some getting used to.

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