The 5 best prog drummers in the world right now, as decided by you

Matt Gastka
(Image credit: Matt Garstka/YouTube)

Best of 2021: 'Progressive' covers a lot of ground, but it's also the  also happens to be where we find some of the most interesting and musically diverse drumming each year, blending styles and experimenting with new concepts across rock, metal, jazz, funk, classical and beyond. 

We've counted your votes, and can now announce who you have decided were the best prog drummers of 2021.

1. Matt Garstka, Animals as Leaders

As well as returning with Animals as Leaders’ first new music in five years, Matt Garstka made the jump to DW this year. Matt’s dedication to the instrument and teaching has earned him the top spot in our Progressive Drummer poll this year, and with a new album incoming, we think you’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the year to come! 

2. Nic Collins, Genesis

Nic placed highly in our Best Rock drummer poll, but Genesis is a multi-dimensional band. As well as taking care of the hits, he’s done a stellar job at taking on Phil Collins and Chester Thompson’s parts on the band’s The Last Domino? Tour.

3. Mike Portnoy, Liquid Tension Experiment

It wouldn’t be the prog poll without Mr Portnoy, who continues to be one of the most prolific and thought-provoking drummers out there. This year he’s reunited once more with former Dream Theater bandmates, John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess for Liquid Tension Experiment 3, Neal Morse Band’s Innocence & Danger and stepped in to track with Between the Buried and Me.

4. Brann Dailor, Mastodon

The Mastodon drummer made a high-placing appearance in the Best Metal Drummer category too, and we can’t think of anyone else who so ably navigates their way through progressive time signatures and concepts with blistering chops while often also singing and making everything seem so accessible. 

5. Gavin Harrison, The Pineapple Thief

Gavin Harrison would be in this poll based solely on his output with The Pineapple Thief (Nothing But The Truth - Live), but he also squeezed in a live album with prog legends King Crimson (Washington & Albany), plus a new song with Porcupine Tree, who announced their reformation alongside a new album for 2022! 

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.