For many of drummers, volume and speed are the holiest and most obsessive of pursuits. Powerful drumming can take us to the most immediate and primal areas of our conscience.
We have all been to YouTube at some point in our careers and typed in “fastest drummer in the world” or “how to build speed” and then been blown away by someone playing single strokes on a “Drumometer” at vision-blurring speeds with atom-splitting precision, clocking up 1,000,000 single strokes in 60 seconds (a gross exaggeration obviously, but you get the idea). The point is that, at some point we have all wanted to play as fast as possible, but sometimes the situation hasn’t called for it.
However, there are a couple of musical styles that will absolutely cater to our urge to play loud and fast – heavy metal and punk rock.
As you dive further down the rabbit-hole of these genres you will start to discover the many off-shoots and interesting terms within these genres (that will vary in degrees of speed, volume and heaviness), such as skate punk, ska-punk, pop-punk, hardcore, black metal, metalcore, mathcore, nu-metal, grindcore, djent… ad infinitum.
Punk and metal are very interesting and extreme forms of music that require much practice and dedication. Below are 5 examples of simple heavy metal/punk rock fills that will get you started. 100bpm is a good place to start with these exercises.
This one is very straightforward, especially at 100bpm. You will hear this fill in many metal/hardcore/punk songs. It is a standard within the genres. The fill is a basic single stroke sticking (R, L, R, L, R, L, R, L… etc.) and has the kick each beat of the bar. When you get comfortable, try to play at slightly increased tempos. It will start to get a lot more challenging at 200+bpm!
This is a very fun fill to play and is designed for fast tempos. You will hear Travis Barker (Blink 182/+44/The Transplants) do this pattern a lot, with many variations. Abe Cunningham (Deftones) is another good point of reference for this type of fill.
This is a very similar example to exercise 1, but this has more of a triplet feel due to the placement of the kick pattern. The sticking is the same (R, L, R, L, R, L, R, L… etc.), but instead of the kick being played on the first of every 4 strokes, it is now played on the first of every 6 strokes, giving it a more swung effect. Be sure to play the accented snare over the kick pattern. This will give the fill a more natural voicing.
This is another one you will hear in a lot of nu-metal/pop-punk classics. It is a neat combination between the hats, snare and toms that, when played well, is a bit of a crowd pleaser.
This is another crowd pleaser that will get your arms moving around the kit. You will hear this and its variations in a lot of death metal songs played at phenomenal tempos. For this type of fill, check out drummers such as Dave Lombardo (Slayer), George Kollias (Nile) and Flo Mournier (Cryptopsy). This one is as much about precision as it is about speed. This one will sound terrible if played sloppily. Make sure every stroke is clear and defined.