Between the Buried and Me are one of the most esoteric bands on the planet. They are of the very few who can weave nearly every genre of music imaginable together and actually pull it off without sounding too pretentious or snarky. Not only that, but they are some of the most creative and talented musicians currently at work today, and I don’t mean just in the metal scene.
Holding it all down is drummer Blake Richardson. The man is a machine behind the kit, entwining rhythm after arcane rhythm together, shifting time signatures and tempos with ease, bursting into double bass and blast beat flurries at the blink of an eye, and crafting some of the most technically proficient drum parts the modern music world has seen. I think, hands down, all drumming has led to this. Richardson’s playing is a culmination of everything great about drumming, it’s fresh, fast, tasteful, demanding, creative, and extremely intricate. He is a fury of drum fill after drum fill all performed to utter perfection, tossing in rudiments like butter as he navigates the convoluted pathways of BTBAM‘s music.
What really makes Blake stand out amongst the pack is his versatility as a player. While I’ve cited many drummers who have the ability to play in multiple genres and integrate them all into their playing, no one does it quite like Richardson. It’s due in part to BTBAM‘s enigmatic style, which demands genre shift after time shift after tempo shift constantly. However, it’s what Blake brings to the table that makes him such a fantastic musician: Fluidity. Without Blake behind the kit many of the breakneck twists and turns in BTBAM‘s music would seem contrived and would not flow as seamlessly as they do. One minute they’re belting out death metal, then magically shift into a polka, then it’s black metal followed by the blues and so on.
It’s also his subtlety behind the kit that speaks to his abilities and understanding as a drummer. He rarely overpowers anyone else in the band (unless it’s called for), and he and bassist Dan Briggs work together like a well oiled machine, keeping the rhythm section in the pocket and damn stylish. It’s a wonder to listen to.
Watching Blake Richardson play is like watching a fine painter paint. It’s mesmerizing and you can’t help but stare on in awe at the grandeur of the art being created before your very eyes. He has mastered what is so prevalent in this day and age: genre melding, and is in fact leading the pack as far as progressive metal goes. He’s someone to watch out for, because if you’re not careful, he’ll pass you by before you even knew he was there.
Check out this video of Blake recording the song “Obfuscation”, from the band’s 2009 record The Great Misdirect. It’s is easily one of my favorite drum videos to watch nowadays. Here’s a tip: Try and follow his hands throughout the nine minute song. Betcha can’t keep up.
You can hear more of Blake’s stunning work on Between the Buried and Me‘s new EP, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues, out now on Metal Blade Records.
The Top Ten:
#10. John Longstreth (Origin, Dim Mak, Gorguts)
#9. Kenneth Schalk (Candiria)
#8. John Merryman (Cephalic Carnage)
#7. Mario Duplantier (Gojira)
#6. Flo Mournier (Cryptopsy)
#5. Danny Walker (Intronaut, Exhumed, Murder Construct)
#4. Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson)
#3. Chris Pennie (Coheed and Cambria, ex-Dillinger Escape Plan)