Best of 2019: A mere thirty-two votes, out of a total of 25,865 cast overall, separated the top two rock drummers this year.
Rock drumming is proving an increasingly diverse field spanning everything from pop-punk to EDM-infused beats, and from classic rock to sludge and rapcore. It’s just proof, as though any were needed, that there can be much more to rock drummers than the old meat and potatoes, two and four.
The Top 10 includes the son of a drumming legend in Rufus Taylor, established stars like Travis Barker and new stars like the explosive Aric Improta from rabble-rousers Fever 333.
The MusicRadar Best in drums awards are brought to you in association with Allianz Musical Insurance - the UK's Number 1 Specialist Instrument Insurer
1. Aric Improta, Fever 333
Fever 333’s Strength In Numb333rs - produced by Travis Barker and Goldfinger’s John Feldmann - is a blast of socio-political rapcore from the Los Angeles trio. As well as excelling with super-tight studio performances on the album, Aric Improta is an explosive live performer, and one of drumming's true showmen. If you get the chance to check him out in 2020, you'd be a fool to miss out.
• DON'T MISS: Aric Improta’s guide to drumming showmanship
2. Rufus Taylor, The Darkness
Flying the flag for classic rock – even if their tongues are often firmly in cheeks – The Darkness and Rufus Taylor sound as bombastic as ever on Easter Is Cancelled. Taylor and the band had a big year, opening for the Hollywood Vampires and making an appearance aboard the KISS Kruise.
3. Jon Beavis – IDLES
It’s not about the fury, not the flash, for Jon Beavis with post-punks Idles. This year brought Idles a nomination for the Mercury Prize, but next look out for A Beautiful Thing, Live at Le Bataclan out in December, capturing Beavis and the band in all their cathartic, venting glory.
4. Scott Phillips, Alter Bridge
With the release of Walk The Sky, Alter Bridge continue to show their competitors how arena rock should be played. Scott Philips’ drums sound huge and heavy yet always crisp and clear, his grooves locked in tight with bassist Brian Marshall as they bring the thunder to the Floridian rockers.
5. Taylor Hawkins, Foo Fighters
2019 took Taylor Hawkins and Foo Fighters all over the world, from Australia through South America, Europe and North America, including two nights at the iconic Madison Square Garden in July. Somehow, Hawkins still found time to release Get The Money, the third album with his band The Coattail Riders.
6. Sebastian Thomson, Baroness
Baroness’ fifth album Gold & Grey saw the band open up their sound, bringing in psychedelic rock and trance-like drones alongside fuzzy, sludgy riffs but Sebastian Thomson navigates it all with confidence and creativity. Plus, in May he sat in with the house band on Late Night With Seth Meyers.
7. Ben Thatcher, Royal Blood
While the world awaits a third album from Royal Blood, Ben Thatcher was rarely off the road in 2019 as the duo opened for Queens Of The Stone Age in the States and had their own headline tours in Europe. And new tunes Boilermaker and King promise great things ahead.
8. Travis Barker, Blink-182
The king of the pop-punk drummers enjoyed a characteristically busy year, with the release of Blink-182’s new album Nine, a three-month co-headline tour with Lil Wayne, and loads of credits with other artists. He worked on Fever 333’s Strength In Numb333rs and teamed up with rapper Vic Mensa as 93Punx.
9. Eddy Thrower – Lower Than Atlantis/Busted
As Lower Than Atlantis bid their fans a fond farewell this year, Eddy Thrower hasn’t let the dust gather on his drums, spending his summer playing an arena tour with Busted. And he’s building up his profile as an educator and clinician, releasing online lessons on topics including linear drumming.
10. Matt Nicholls, Bring Me The Horizon
As Bring Me The Horizon have moved further and further away from their metalcore origins on their sixth album Amo, the band’s sound has expanded to pull in EDM, pop, and rock. Matt Nicholls has moved with the times, adding dance beats to his vocabulary while maintaining his rock power.