When it comes to heavy music genres like metal, the driving force behind the intense sound and energy is often the drums. Metal beats are known for their fast-paced, aggressive nature, and they require a unique set of patterns and techniques to create that signature sound. In this article, we will explore some of the common patterns used in metal beats that every aspiring metal drummer should know.
Double Bass Drumming
One of the defining features of metal music is the use of double bass drumming. This technique involves using both feet to play two bass drums simultaneously or alternating between the two pedals on a single bass drum. The continuous barrage of rapid-fire bass drum hits adds power and intensity to the music.
1. Blast Beats
Blast beats are a staple in metal drumming and are commonly used in various subgenres like death metal and black metal. This technique involves alternating between the bass drum and snare drum at a rapid speed, creating a relentless wall of sound. The typical blast beat pattern involves constant sixteenth notes on the bass drum while the snare drum hits on the third beat of each group. This pattern, combined with cymbal accents, creates an explosive and chaotic feel.
D-beats are heavily associated with punk and hardcore music, but they are also commonly used in certain styles of metal, such as crust punk and some subgenres of extreme metal. The pattern involves playing the bass drum on the downbeat and the snare drum on the upbeat, creating a driving and aggressive rhythm. The D-beat pattern can be varied by adding ghost notes on the snare drum or incorporating cymbal chokes for additional dynamics.
3. Ghost Notes
Ghost notes are subtle, quieter drum hits that add depth and complexity to metal beats. These are often played on the snare drum or toms using a lighter touch, creating a ghostly and haunting effect. Ghost notes can be incorporated within blast beats, D-beats, or other patterns to provide a nuanced and intricate groove. By utilizing ghost notes strategically, drummers can enhance the overall dynamics and feel of their metal drumming.
4. Syncopated Patterns
Syncopation is a technique that adds complexity and groove to metal beats. By accenting offbeats or unexpected rhythmic placements, syncopated patterns create a sense of tension and catch the listener’s attention. In metal, syncopation can be achieved by emphasizing certain beats on the cymbals or toms while maintaining a steady pulse on the bass drum and snare drum.
5. Offbeat Pedal Techniques
In addition to double bass drumming, metal drummers employ various offbeat pedal techniques to spice up their beats. This includes techniques like heel-toe, slide, swivel, or the use of pedal doubles. These techniques allow drummers to play rapid offbeat patterns, syncopated rhythms, and intricate bass drum rolls with precision and speed. Mastering these offbeat pedal techniques can take your metal drumming to the next level and open up new creative possibilities.
Polyrhythms are intricate rhythmic patterns created by combining different subdivisions or meters. They can be a challenging yet rewarding aspect of metal drumming. By playing contrasting rhythms simultaneously, such as triplets against straight sixteenth notes, polyrhythms add a complex and polyphonic texture to metal beats. Incorporating polyrhythms into your drumming can help create unique and memorable sections within a song.
7. Odd Time Signatures
Metal music often ventures into odd time signatures, which deviate from the standard 4/4 time commonly found in popular music. Time signatures like 7/8, 9/8, or even more complex meters create a sense of unpredictability and unease. Drummers in metal bands need to be comfortable playing in these time signatures, as it opens up new possibilities for creating intricate and progressive rhythms.
8. Fills and Breaks
Metal drumming isn’t just about keeping a relentless beat. Drummers also incorporate fills and breaks to add excitement and variation to their playing. Fills are short rhythmic patterns or phrases played between different sections of a song, while breaks are more extended drum solos or intricate patterns that showcase the drummer’s skill. By practicing and experimenting with different fills and breaks, drummers can inject their own personality and flair into their metal beats, making them stand out and leave a lasting impression.
Mastering the Art: Techniques for Practicing Metal Beat Patterns
To truly excel in metal drumming, it is essential to develop a systematic approach to practicing the common patterns used in metal beats. Here are some techniques that will help you hone your skills and make significant progress on your drumming journey.
- Start with Slow Tempos: When learning a new pattern, begin at a slow tempo. This allows you to focus on accuracy, coordination, and proper technique. Gradually increase the speed as you gain comfort and control, ensuring that every hit is executed precisely.
- Use a Metronome: A metronome is your best friend when practicing metal beats. It provides a consistent and steady rhythm, helping you develop a strong sense of timing and improve your ability to play in sync with other musicians. Set the metronome to various tempos and challenge yourself to stay locked in with its pulse.
- Break It Down: Break down complex patterns into smaller, manageable segments. Master each segment individually before combining them into the complete pattern. This approach allows for focused practice and facilitates smoother transitions between different parts of a beat.
- Slow Motion Technique: Use the slow-motion technique to analyze and refine your movements. Play the pattern at an extremely slow pace, paying close attention to every limb’s position and motion. This method helps identify any inefficiencies or inconsistencies in your technique, enabling you to make precise adjustments.
- Repetition and Muscle Memory: Repetition is key to developing muscle memory. Practice the patterns regularly, dedicating focused time to reinforce the muscle memory required for executing the beats effortlessly. As you internalize the patterns, they become second nature, freeing up mental space for creativity and improvisation.
- Record Yourself: Recording your practice sessions allows for self-assessment and objective feedback. Listen back to your recordings and evaluate your timing, dynamics, and overall execution. Identify areas for improvement and set specific goals for your next practice session.
- Seek Guidance and Inspiration: Never underestimate the power of learning from others. Seek out drumming tutorials, online resources, or even private lessons with experienced metal drummers. Their insights, techniques, and unique approaches can inspire you and propel your drumming skills to new heights.
By incorporating these techniques into your practice routine, you will steadily enhance your mastery of the common patterns used in metal beats. Consistency, patience, and a growth mindset will pave the way to becoming an exceptional metal drummer.
With these practice techniques in your arsenal, you are now equipped to embark on an exciting and fulfilling journey of unleashing thunderous metal beats with unwavering precision and power.
Remember, mastery comes with dedication and practice, so keep pushing your boundaries, refining your technique, and immersing yourself in the exhilarating world of metal drumming.
Our Final Thoughts
Metal beats are a crucial component of the genre’s intense and powerful sound. By mastering common patterns like double bass drumming, blast beats, D-beats, syncopated patterns, polyrhythms, and odd time signatures, drummers can elevate their metal drumming skills to new heights. Experimenting with these patterns, combining them, and adding your unique touch will help you develop your own style as a metal drummer. So, grab your drumsticks, practice diligently, and let the thunderous sound of metal beats inspire your playing!