David’s Drum Off: #10 – John Longstreth

With all these lists floating around the interwebs as of late, and most notably the hit and miss Top 25 Modern Metal Guitarists by the dudes at MetalSucks, I felt it was time to throw in my two cents on some musicians that seem to get the least love in the music world:  Drummers.  That’s right, the ugly, sweaty dudes way in the back of the stage behind all the “other guys”.  Hopefully some of you will agree, and hopefully I can introduce you to some unmatched players that so frequently go under the radar.

As The Greyboy All Stars put it, let’s give the drummer some.

Kicking off my top 10 list is death metal veteran John Longstreth (Origin, Dim Mak, Gorguts, Angelcorpse, every other metal band ever).  Far too often death metal drummers are written off as too machine-like or lacking soul, but I beg to differ.  Sure, there are a lot of drummers who rely too heavily on speed and technicality and end up sacrificing any real dynamic to their playing, but Longstreth is definitely not one of them.

Not only is John widely hailed as one of the fastest drummers ever to grace this planet, he has, whether they know it or not, influenced nearly every death metal drummer to emerge in the past 10 years.  His relentless and super-human style is responsible for nearly every rhythm section that is proliferating the ever-expanding technical death metal scene today.  Hell, if it weren’t for him we wouldn’t have bands like Brain Drill and Viraemia pushing the limits of speed and technicality to unbelievable levels.

Not only has Longstreth’s machine gun-like blend of rhythm and speed been a huge influence on the death metal scene, but his style of playing has quite literally rubbed off on some of the greatest and most revered drummers working today.

Several years ago, feeling limited by the typical constraints of the double bass pedal, Longstreth devised a whole new technique that not only increases your speed, but opens up entirely new vistas of possibility in terms of range and musicianship in the highly competitive metal genre:  The double stroke bass drum technique.  (Note: he did not invent the technique per-say, but was the first, as far as I know, to use the technique in a prolonged roll as well as at lightning speeds, which are very often found in death metal and grindcore music.)

Since then, the double stroke bass technique has spread rapidly throughout the genre, offering drummers more versatility and speed than previously thought possible.  Drummers such as Trey Williams (Dying Fetus) and Adam Jarvis (Misery Index) have consistently lauded Longstreth as the originator of the modern metal technique.

Not only that, but Longstreth’s style is all his own.  There is never a moment when you’re listening to him play that you think for a second it’s someone else.  He relies heavily on snare drum rolls, incorporating them into his playing to enhance his frenetic blast beats and uses his vast array of cymbals in a very tasteful manner, making sure to keep his beats fresh and interesting.  Though upon first listen he may seem too robotic and machine-like, there is something distinctly human about his playing and that’s what is so captivating about the sound he has crafted.

If that hasn’t convinced you, watch the video below.  Look how flawlessly he pummels away at the kit.  He plays so fluidly it’s like he’s petting a kitten.

Origin‘s new album, Entity, is out now on Nuclear Blast Records.

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