The 12 best prog drummers in the world right now
12. Joey Waronker (Roger Waters)
The Rhythm Best in drums 2017 polls have received over 137,000 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 2017. Here, we present the best prog drummers of 2017. First up we have Roger Waters’ drummer Joey Waronker...
2017 highlight: Ex-Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters took his Us + Them tour around the world in 2017 (and will continue to dazzle audiences well into 2018). Holding things down from the back was Joey Waronker, performing everything from classic Floyd tracks, to music from Waters’ newest album Is This The Life We Really Want?, which Waronker also played drums on.
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11. Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson)
2017 highlight: Despite swelling the band’s drummer count in recent years with the introduction of Gavin Harrison, Jeremy Stacey and Bill Reiflin to the fold, Pat Mastelotto has been a mainstay of prog kingpins King Crimson for over two decades and was the percussive highlight of 2017 tour dates.
10. Stewart Copeland (Gizmodrone)
2017 highlight: What’s ex-The Police drummer Copeland doing in a prog category in 2017 you may ask? Take one listen to his new band Gizmodrone - complete with Adrian Belew on guitar, Mark King on bass and Vittoria Cosma on keys - and you’ll understand how the zany, odd-time ditties belong firmly in prog territory. In addition to performing vocals duties, Copeland brought his usual signature sound and energy to the kit, of course.
9. Ray Hearne (Haken)
2017 highlight: The Haken machine continued to grow this year as Ray and the band gathered new fans of their prog metal brilliance in Canada, Mexico, the USA, Australia and beyond. What’s more, they also celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2017. Congratulations guys!
8. Mike Mangini (Dream Theater)
2017 highlight: Can you believe it’s been over six years and three albums since Mike Mangini earned his place in Dream Theater following the departure of the band’s founder Mike Portnoy? Earlier in 2017 Dream Theater hit the UK to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Images & Words, with Mangini doing justice to the iconic drum parts recorded by Portnoy back in the early ‘90s.
7. Virgil Donati (Icefish)
2017 highlight: Fresh from a double drumming tour of Australia, Japan and The Philippines with Thomas Lang, Virgil announced a new album, Human Hardware, with hard-hitting prog technicians Icefish, which demonstrated once again why he is one of the most revered drummers in the genre.
6. Martin ‘Axe’ Axenrot (Opeth)
2017 highlight: Winning International Band of the Year at Prog Magazine’s Progressive Music Awards has to be a high point for Axe and the band this year, and deservedly so on the basis of Opeth’s stunning twelfth album Sorceress. We can’t wait to hear what they cook up for their forthcoming, as-yet-unnamed 2018 longplayer.
5. Ryan Van Poederooyen (Devin Townsend Project)
2017 highlight: Ryan continues to climb the prog drumming ranks. On evidence of Devin Townsend’s 2017 live shows, and the astonishing album Transcendence released late in 2016, Ryan is delivering the goods and then some. What’s more, away from the kit Ryan is building quite the reputation as a speaker on positive thinking and health.
4. Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson)
2017 highlight: We’ve loved watching homegrown talent Craig’s ascent up the prog drumming ladder over the last few years, but it was joining Steven Wilson’s band in 2015 that exposed his name to the wider world. Craig has since performed Wilson’s extraordinary, complex music around the globe, and this year contributed drum parts to the ex-Porcupine Tree frontman’s staggering fifth album To The Bone.
3. Mike Portnoy (Sons Of Apollo)
2017 highlight: As if Mike Portnoy wasn’t busy enough spending most of the year on the road, including epic Shattered Fortress shows where he performed classic material from throughout his impressive career, but late in 2017 Portnoy announced a new prog supergroup comprising Billy Sheehan, Derek Sherinian, Jeff Scott Soto and Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal. Sons Of Apollo's debut album Psychotic Symphony is just as exciting as the line-up suggests.
2. Gavin Harrison (The Pineapple Thief)
2017 highlight: While Gavin’s day job with King Crimson keeps him rather busy, he managed to find time at the start of 2017 to tour with The Pineapple Thief and reinterpreted the parts for their 10th studio album Magnolia to a live audience. It went so well the band invited him back for a further run in September.
Winner: Matt Halpern (Periphery)
2017 highlight: In addition to a Grammy nod for their track ‘The Price Is Wrong’, groove-meister Matt and Periphery spent much of this year touring 2016 album Periphery III: Select Difficulty around the world. In what little spare time he had left, Matt also managed to launch his Meinl Double Down signature stack cymbal at NAMM!