Drum Kit on Stage

Double bass drumming has become an iconic element of heavy metal music, providing the genre with its distinct rhythmic intensity. Often used to complement heavy guitar riffs and thunderous bass lines, the double bass drum has become a driving force in the genre, giving metal its signature pulse.

From the early days of bands like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden to present-day masters like Meshuggah and Lamb of God, double bass drumming has played a vital role in shaping the sound of heavy metal. In this article, we will explore the history and technique of double bass drumming and its impact on heavy metal music.

We will also examine how this style has evolved over the years and its potential for the future of heavy metal.

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The Technique of Double Bass Drumming

Double bass drumming is a technique where the drummer uses both feet to play two bass drums or a double pedal on a single bass drum. This creates a fast, powerful and intricate sound that can enhance the rhythmic intensity of a song. To perform this technique, drummers must develop precise and coordinated footwork that can be physically demanding.

Accuracy with Both Feet

Playing double bass drums requires both feet to move independently, with each foot playing a different rhythm or pattern. This requires a lot of practice and coordination to achieve the speed and accuracy needed to create the desired sound.

Drummers typically use a variety of techniques such as heel-toe, slide, and swivel to achieve the desired sound and speed.

Physical Demands of Double Bass Drumming

The physical demands of playing double bass drums can be intense, and it requires a lot of stamina and endurance. The constant motion of the feet can cause fatigue and muscle strain, which is why many drummers practice regularly to build up their strength and stamina.

Famous Double Bass Drummers

There have been many famous drummers known for their double bass drumming skills, including Dave Lombardo from Slayer, Lars Ulrich from Metallica, and Tomas Haake from Meshuggah. These drummers have developed their unique styles and techniques, which have become synonymous with the genre of heavy metal.

Their technical abilities and creativity have pushed the limits of what is possible with double bass drumming and inspired countless other drummers to explore this technique.

In the next section, we will discuss how double bass drumming contributes to the rhythmic intensity of heavy metal music.

Double Bass Drumming in Heavy Metal

Double bass drumming is a key element of heavy metal music, contributing to its driving and intense rhythmic sound. Here are three sub-headings to help organize this section:

Contribution to Rhythmic Intensity

Double bass drumming creates a relentless and powerful beat that drives the music forward. The technique involves using both feet to play two bass drums simultaneously, allowing for a rapid and repetitive rhythm that creates a sense of urgency and aggression.

In heavy metal, double bass drumming is often used to create a wall of sound that complements the heavy guitar riffs and powerful vocals.

Prominent Examples

There are countless heavy metal songs that prominently feature double bass drumming. Some of the most notable examples include “Angel of Death” by Slayer, “One” by Metallica, and “Painkiller” by Judas Priest.

In these songs, the double bass drumming creates a fast and intense rhythm that propels the music forward and adds to its overall intensity.

Comparison to Other Genres

While double bass drumming is a crucial element of heavy metal, it is not exclusive to the genre. Other genres of music, such as jazz, rock, and even classical music, have also incorporated double bass drumming into their music.

However, the use of double bass drumming in heavy metal is distinct in its intensity and speed and has become a defining characteristic of the genre. The complex rhythms and patterns created by double bass drumming have influenced countless heavy metal drummers and helped shape the sound of the genre.

Double Bass Drum Pedal
Double Bass Drum Pedal

Evolution of Double Bass Drumming in Heavy Metal

Double bass drumming has undergone significant evolution and transformation in heavy metal over the years. Here are three sub-headings to help organize this section:

Evolution Over the Years

Double bass drumming first emerged in heavy metal in the 1970s and 1980s, with early pioneers like Ian Paice of Deep Purple and Cozy Powell of Rainbow using the technique in their music. Over the years, double bass drumming has become increasingly prominent in heavy metal, with drummers pushing the limits of what is possible with the technique.

In the 1990s, drummers like Gene Hoglan of Death and Richard Christy of Iced Earth popularized the use of extreme double bass drumming, playing at incredibly fast speeds with unparalleled precision.

Different Approaches in Subgenres

Different subgenres of heavy metal have approached double bass drumming in various ways.

In thrash metal, for example, double bass drumming is often used to create a fast and aggressive sound, while in power metal, it is used to create a galloping rhythm that emphasizes the soaring melodies of the music.

In death metal, drummers often use complex and intricate double bass drumming patterns to create a chaotic and intense sound.

Combination with Other Rhythmic Elements

In addition to being used on its own, double bass drumming has also been combined with other rhythmic elements to create new styles within heavy metal. For example, in the early 2000s, drummers like Tomas Haake of Meshuggah began incorporating polyrhythms into their double bass drumming, creating a complex and layered sound that defied traditional time signatures.

More recently, some heavy metal bands have incorporated electronic beats and programmed drums alongside double bass drumming to create a futuristic and industrial sound.

Overall, the evolution of double bass drumming in heavy metal has been marked by constant innovation and experimentation, with drummers constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the technique.


Double bass drumming is a driving force behind the rhythmic intensity of heavy metal music. It creates a powerful and aggressive sound that is unique to the genre and has evolved over the years as heavy metal has developed.

From the early days of heavy metal to the present day, double bass drumming has played a crucial role in the genre’s evolution and has been used in various subgenres to create different styles and sounds.

The future of double bass drumming in heavy metal is exciting, with new technologies and innovations continuing to push the boundaries of what is possible with this technique. As heavy metal continues to evolve, it is likely that double bass drumming will continue to play a crucial role in shaping the genre’s sound and driving its rhythmic intensity.

In conclusion, double bass drumming is a fundamental part of heavy metal music, contributing to the genre’s aggressive and powerful sound. It has evolved over the years, and will likely continue to do so, as new styles and techniques emerge. With its ability to create complex rhythms and patterns, double bass drumming will undoubtedly remain a key element of heavy metal music for years to come.


What is double bass drumming?

Double bass drumming is a drumming technique that involves using two bass drums or a double bass drum pedal to create a fast, complex, and often syncopated rhythm. It is commonly used in heavy metal, hard rock, and other genres that require a fast and aggressive drumming style.

Who started double bass drumming?

The origins of double bass drumming are unclear, but it has been used in various forms in jazz, rock, and other musical styles for many decades. In the 1970s and 1980s, heavy metal drummers like Bill Ward (Black Sabbath) and Clive Burr (Iron Maiden) helped to popularize the technique and push it to new levels of speed and complexity.

Why do some drummers use 2 bass drums?

Drummers may use two bass drums as a way of creating a more powerful, dynamic sound, or to play more complex rhythms and patterns that are difficult to execute with just one foot. The use of two bass drums or a double bass drum pedal also allows for faster, more precise playing and opens up a wider range of musical possibilities.

How long does it take to learn double bass drumming?

The amount of time it takes to learn double bass drumming depends on the individual’s natural aptitude for drumming, their level of dedication and practice, and the specific techniques and rhythms they are trying to learn. Some people may be able to make progress quickly with just a few hours of practice per week, while others may need to put in many hours of practice each day to achieve their goals.

What’s the hardest type of drumming?

The hardest type of drumming is subjective and varies depending on personal preferences and playing style. Some drummers may find complex jazz drumming to be the most challenging, while others may struggle with the fast and intricate rhythms of heavy metal or the complex polyrhythms of African drumming. Ultimately, the hardest type of drumming is the one that presents the most difficult technical and musical challenges for the individual drummer.

About the Author

Mark Nye is a writer and guitar teacher with a passion for heavy metal and hard rock. With years of experience playing and teaching guitar, Mark has developed a deep appreciation for the music and culture of the genre. In addition to teaching guitar, he enjoys writing about heavy metal and hard rock music and sharing his knowledge and insights with others. When he’s not teaching or writing, you can find Mark listening to his favourite bands and discovering new music to add to his collection.

Metalpunkz Writer

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