Simon Collins (Sound Of Contact)
The Rhythm Best Of Drums 2015 polls have received over 102,000 votes, and we're now ready to roll out the winners. The nominees were what we considered to be the drummers and gear that have excelled in 2015. Here, we present the Best Prog Drummers of 2015. First up we have Sound Of Contact's Simon Collins.
2015 highlight: When you're the son of Phil Collins it's likely that drummers will be looking at your playing even closer than normal. Lucky for Sound Of Contact's Simon Collins, then, that he's rather adept at playing drums. Right now he's busy working on a new solo album, due early 2016 and Sound Of Contact are working up a new longplayer (and his dad's supposed to be coming out of retirement too!).
Geoff Irish (Caligula's Horse)
2015 highlight: It's been an exceptional year for prog releases, including Bloom, the third album from Australian prog metallers Caligula's Horse. Geoff Irish impresses with his fluency in odd meters and drive behind the kit.
Jimmy Keegan (Spock's Beard)
2015 highlight: Spock's Beard was formed 20 years ago with Nick D'Virgilio on drums, but since 2002 Jimmy Keegan has been performing live with the band and made his studio debut on 2013's Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep, but it's on 2015's The Oblivion Particle that he really found his feet.
Josh Eppard (Coheed & Cambria)
2015 highlight: Just seeing Josh Eppard back in the ranks of Coheed & Cambria following a messy period of personal issues is enough to welcome him back into this category, but his performance on October 2015's The Color Before The Sun, although a straighter album the previous efforts, still features some skilful and inventive drumming from Eppard.
Steve Judd (Karnivool)
2015 highlight: Although things have been a little quiet from the Aussie proggers, you can't have a list of the hottest prog players in the world right now without mentioning Steve Judd. The band has been working hard on the follow up to 2013's Asymmetry and we can't wait to hear it.
Ryan Van Poederooyen (Devin Townsend Project)
2015 highlight: Devin Townsend is most synonymous with progressive metal, and holding it down behind Devin for the last 10 years has been Canadian powerhouse Ryan Van Poederooyen. Watching Ryan lay waste to London's Royal Albert Hall with Devin mid-2015 was a highlight of our lives, let alone the year.
Danny Walker (Intronaut)
2015 highlight: Not such a big name in prog circles, but making waves amongst those in the know, Danny Walker is a demon at the kit. 2015 album The Direction Of Last Things is a sprawling piece that takes in metal, jazz and prog and showcases Danny's playing across an intense 46 minutes.
Matt Halpern (Periphery)
2015 highlight: Whilst this year has been all about promoting epic 2014 albums Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega, the coolest thing to come from the Periphery camp was Matt's Wraith Black Panther snare drum from Mapex, launched at NAMM 2015. This brass beast will take heads off at 20 paces and has Matt's signature tone in spades.
Jay Postones (Tesseract)
2015 highlight: The Milton Keynes prog five-piece has been gathering momentum for eight years now, and 2015's Polaris album is the next chapter of their formidable rise. Particularly tracks like Messenger, which showcase Postones' mastery of his craft.
Neil Peart (Rush)
2015 highlight: This, the band's 40th year marked possibly the final tour ever for Rush, but we can't complain as Neil Peart and Co have given us so much during their prolific careers. We hope they do come back though…
Matt Garstka (Animals As Leaders)
2015 highlight: 2014 was the year that Animals As Leaders really broke and their amazing talents became fully appreciated. 2015 for Matt Garstka was all about clinics, and our biggest highlight was this performance from the Meinl Drum Festival. Roll on album four.
Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson)
2015 highlight: A new entry to our Best Prog list this year, and a high position too. The UK's Craig Blundell has always been popular with Rhythm readers for his fantastic clinics, but it was snaring the Steven Wilson gig at the start of 2015 that turned a whole host of prog fans onto his vast talents. Look out for Craig on tour with Steven throughout 2015.
Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats)
2015 highlight: When he's not blowing minds on stage with prog loons The Aristocrats or shredding with Joe Satriani, Marco is busy with his own projects. This year his latest solo album Celebration saw him not only put in a phenomenal performance behind the kit, but he plays all the other instruments and even sings on a couple of tracks.
Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree)
2015 highlight: When we heard that Gavin was going to be releasing a contemporary big band interpretation of eight Porcupine Tree songs we didn't know what to think. But this ambitious project was an absolute triumph. Not only that, but Gavin has also spent 2015 working alongside drummers Bill Rieflin and Pat Mastelotto with King Crimson, to much acclaim.
Mike Mangini (Dream Theater)
2015 highlight: The intelligence with which Mike Mangini approaches his playing both with Dream Theater and in clinic is second to none. Mike has been busy this year working on concept album The Astonishing with Dream Theater. That's coming out in 2016 and we can't wait to see what his mind has conjured this time.
Winner: Martin Axenrot (Opeth)
2015 highlight: Best Prog is always a hotly-contested category with some serious talent battling for the top spot. Here we have an amazing top five, including a couple of Brits, but the Opeth man takes the win, and rightly so. 2014's Pale Communion was a modern prog masterpiece and a real showcase for Axenrot's substantial talent and their 2015 shows have been jaw-dropping.