The winner of this year’s poll for Best Metal Drummer of 2019 swept the field, earning almost twice as many votes as the rest of the entrants combined. But it’s a group jammed with masters of the double kick blitzkrieg, pounding industrial heaviness, and all-around drumming assault and battery.
Perhaps speaking to the physical demands of this particular trade, some of this year’s finalists are relatively younger players who’ve taken up the reins in long-established bands, like Jay Weinberg, Jocke Wallgren and Art Cruz, but 2019 also saw Chris Kontos back in the drum seat for Machine Head after decades away.
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. Jay Weinberg, Slipknot
Line-up changes, lawsuits and offstage mayhem could easily have derailed Slipknot this year, but instead they obliterated the doubters with We Are Not Your Kind. As stylistically diverse as it is implacably furious, the album is a showcase for Jay Weinberg. No wonder his drum clinic tour was a smash.
2. Paul Bostaph, Slayer
As Slayer reach the end of their farewell tour, Bostaph and the thrash pioneers are going out with a bloody bang with their gory film The Repentless Killogy and a brutal set at Download to mark their last UK appearance. Wherever Bostaph goes next, it’s sure to be crushingly heavy.
3. Ray Luzier, Korn
Still flying the flag for nu-metal, 2019 brought one of Korn’s darkest, most powerful records ever with The Nothing. Luzier lays down one slamming groove after another, displaying his customary blend of musicality and attack. Plus, he’s been grooving hard with Dug Pinnick and George Lynch in power trio KXM.
4. Jocke Wallgren, Amon Amarth
This year saw Jocke Wallgren hammer his stamp on Amon Amarth’s melodic death metal with their Berserker album, his first studio session with the band since joining in 2016. His galloping kick drums charge like a warhorse into battle in ‘Shield Wall’ and the relentless ‘Raven’s Flight’ takes no prisoners.
5. Chris Kontos, Machine Head
This was a momentous year for Chris Kontos, returning to the Machine Head fold for the first time since 1996 to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of their debut album, Burn My Eyes. Playing the entire record live, Kontos unleashed the face-shredding power of classics like Davidian and Blood For Blood.
6. Christoph Schneider, Rammstein
Rammstein’s long-awaited return with their eponymous seventh album has seen the band topping the charts all over Europe. Their sole UK appearance of the year, at Milton Keynes, was a triumph of spectacle, pyrotechnics and riffage, all powered by Schneider’s drumming, covering everything from danceable disco beats to pounding industrial.
7. Art Cruz, Lamb Of God
2019 saw Art Cruz officially claim the drum stool for Lamb Of God after a stint as a stand-in the year before. It’s been a huge boost for the Californian drummer, playing massive shows opening for Slayer, and a new Lamb Of God album is in the works for 2020.
8. Jason Bittner, Overkill
2019 brought the release of The Wings Of War, marking Bittner’s first studio album with Overkill since he joined the thrash legends two years ago. The album is a pure speed metal adrenaline rush, but the apparently inexhaustible Bittner has enough energy to do drum lessons and clinics while touring.