We've counted your votes, and can now announce who you have voted as the best prog drummer of 2020.
Concept albums, highly technical composition and finely crafted metre changes: prog spans a lot of ground. It also happens to be where we find some of the most interesting and musically diverse drumming on the planet. From stadium-filling legends, to debut albums and projects, the prog poll is a battleground where ability counts! Here are the 10 drummers you have voted as the best in the prog game for 2020.
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1. Mike Portnoy
We aren’t surprised that Mr P has once again topped the Prog drummer poll. Despite the enforced downtime, Mike was able to stay busy behind the kit. He managed to reunite with John Petrucci on his solo album, play on Neal Morse’s Sola Gratia, put out a live album with Flying Colors and release a studio album with Sons of Apollo. He’s also started work on a new Transatlantic album for 2021, all while we were messing about on Zoom.
The Tool drummer blew us away with last year’s Fear Inoculum, and Tool managed to remain active into 2020. We didn’t see quite as much of them as expected thanks to Covid, but Danny did team-up with his Tool bandmates to make some rare new music in the shape of The Witness to celebrate the release of Adam Jones’ signature Gibson, as well as tracking drums for Peter Murphy (Bauhaus).
Ray Hearne, Haken
Haken surprised fans with the release of Virus this year, and in true prog fashion, it turned out that it was written in parallel with 2018’s Vector and continues the theme of institutionalisation. If you find prog inaccessible at times, we’d recommend giving Virus a spin for some great crossover prog-metal that sees Haken only getting bigger and bigger.
Dream Theater fans won’t have a prog poll without their heroes placing highly on the list. Here, Mike Mangini lands himself in the Top 5 slot thanks to his work on Distant Memories - Live in London which not only sees him playing at the top of his game, but his kit sounds great too!
Few drummers can touch Gavin Harrison’s precise and articulate playing, so we’re glad to see the former Porcupine Tree/King Crimson man place highly here. Check out his playing on The Pineapple Thief’s Versions of The Truth for some of the most interesting drumming to come out of 2020.
Marco Minnemann is a machine! We don’t think Marco needs any introduction, but if you’re yet to witness the jaw-dropping playing he’s capable of, you can start with his output with Randy McStine on McStine and Minnemann, both released this year.
As well as featuring on the Bill & Ted Face The Music soundtrack, Mastodon put out their Medium Rarities collection back in the Autumn, with Brann Dailor proving why he deserves a place on this list from the off. He’s also kept himself busy with lots of great playthroughs and collaborative covers this year!
Simon Phillips is a musical chameleon who has shown time and again his ability to jump effortlessly between genres. This year saw him make the shortlist for our prog category thanks to his work this year with former Dream Theater keyboard player, Derek Sharinian on the shreddy prog-fusion fest, The Phoenix, as well as a second album with DarWin.
Ryan Van Poederooyen
The former Devin Townsend drummer returned this year with iMonolith’s debut album State of Being, reminding us of just how impressive his playing is and delivering prog elements to a slice of accessible metal.
Mike Ieradi, Protest The Hero
Just one listen to Protest The Hero’s Palimpsest is enough to realise just how scary Mike Ieradi’s chops are. Press play and witness some incredible meter-twisting prog, then bask in the sound of that kit!