I got a lot of time for Chris Adler. I am not the biggest fan of Lamb of God, however with each album, there are songs on it with a killer groove or a killer section that just blows me away. Then from out of nowhere, Adler appeared on Protest The Hero’s fan funded “Volition” album and that was another “wow” moment for me. So I am heaps keen to hear how he goes with Megadeth on the “Dystopia” album.
There is an interview with Chris over at Music Radar where he talks about the albums that influenced his drumming style. Link is here.
At number one, he has the Wrathchild America, “3D” album. The drummer on that is Shannon Larkin, who is now the drummer with Godsmack. After recording 2 albums for Atlantic Records, the band was dropped because of a lacklustre of sales, however they were around enough to give Chris Adler an influential drummer.
Funny thing about Wrathchild America, is their music faded away instantly after they got dropped. Their sense of technical thrash grooves just didn’t suit the ones in charge. But it’s on Spotify and Chris Adler has brought them back into the conversation. All because of his love for the band and how Shannon Larkin inspired him to sell all his bass and guitar gear for a drum kit.
So I am streaming the “3D” album as i type this.
At number 2 and number 3, he has Aerosmith’s 1973 self-titled debut (Joey Kramer is the drummer) and “Reggatta de Blanc” from The Police (Steward Copeland is the drummer), released in 1979.
For Joey Kramer;
“Obviously not a very complex record, although the guy has a lot of feel and everything, but that was how I learned the basics – when to go to the ride cymbal, just learning the coordination of hands and feet.”
For Stewart Copeland;
“Even at this point in my career after playing now for 21 years, it’s still probably one of the most difficult songs out there, other than maybe Rosanna, from Toto, which I was listening to today.”
At number 4 and 5, he has Strapping Young Lad’s 1997 “City” album (Gene Hoglan is the drummer) and Mahavishnu Orchestra’s 1971 album, Inner Mounting Flame album (Bill Cobham is the drummer).
For Gene Hoglan;
“Gene was bringing funk and gospel beats into metal and speeding everything up and he sounded like no other metal drummer out there. I think that really helped the band stand out, so modelling myself after that, I love metal more than anything, but I wanted to be able to offer my metal band a unique take on what a metal drummer could or should be able to do.”
For Bill Cobham;
“I’ve watched a couple of clinics online and even a show I saw at one point where he came in and sat down at the kit and just decided that night he was going to take one of the toms off, so he’ll just mix things up and go from there.”
The attention to detail and trying to bring something new and unique to metal drumming is what separates the great from the good. When all you listen too is metal bands, then your style is a carbon copy of those bands. But when you listen far and wide, your style starts to incorporate feels, patterns and phrases from those different genres.
At number 6, he has the mighty “Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying” album from Megadeth, released in 1986. The drummer on that album is Gar Samuelson.
“Megadeth has always been about the guitars and that’s why I love the band but Gar did have that jazzy feel, especially on the first record, Killing Is My Business, where everything felt like it was just a hair away from running off the tracks. It was just chaos and he had that jazzy style and sped those things way, way up.”
The beauty of the first two Megadeth albums is that Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson both came from jazz fusion backgrounds. Combine their chaotic free jamming experimentations with Dave Mustaine’s angry chip on the shoulder chainsaw riffage/lyrical writing and you have a potent combination of styles that prove a solid foundation to build upon.
“Peace Sells changed the whole game as far as hard rock and metal music goes. To this day I would still consider it to be Bible of all heavy metal. Gar was the guy that really made me think a little bit outside of the box because he was not a typical metal player at the time. There was obviously Lars [Ulrich] and Louie [Clemente] from Testament, great double bass chops, Dave Lombardo, really fast double bass stuff, but Gar was the guy shifting it up a little bit. I just really liked the idea that even though he was taking a backseat to the guitar players, you couldn’t replace him. He had a very unique sound within the band and so that’s what I’ve always tried to go for myself.”
I have always argued with others that Dave Mustaine’s influence on thrash metal and Metallica in general is unrecognised. He brought a technicality to Metallica that wasn’t there before. He explored that technicality to great success with Megadeth, which culminated in the “Rust In Peace” masterpiece. Metallica on the other hand, pushed those technical boundaries to the extremes on the Justice album. And since Metallica are the “winners” at this point in time, history will show a version of truth written by the winners.
At number 7, Adler has Metallica’s 1988 “And Justice For All” album. His views about the drum production are spot on.
“This changed a lot of things for a lot of people. The drum production was unlike anything that had been heard up until that point and the clarity was unrivalled. There were people certainly playing faster and more intricately but most of the time you couldn’t actually hear what the heck they were doing; this was the first time where everything was crystal clear. I wanted to mimic that, I would tune my drum heads down as low as they would go, I started taping quarters and fifty cent coins onto bass drums and using plastic beaters to try to get that sound. His playing on that album was fantastic.”
I really liked the Justice album. As a guitarist, it was progressive and technical. The album was definitely pushing the limits of the Metallica guys abilities in relation to technicality, much like how “2112” was pushing the abilities of the Rush guys. Production wise, yeah, the bass guitar is low and the guitars sound like they have scooped the mids and treble, however the drumming is made to sound awesome. The snap of the snare, the clarity of the double kick and the rumble of the toms made Lars Ulrich sound like the best drummer in town. Plus there was the definitive “One” on it.
At number 8, Adler has “South Of Heaven” from Slayer, released in 1988.
“We spoke about Gar earlier with Megadeth, but Dave was much faster than Gar was. Gar was more purposeful, Dave was more of an animal, incredibly fast double bass.”
I watched Slayer with Lombardo on drums. Live the songs were sped up. After the gig finished, I said to my mate Jimbo that I kneel at the altar of Lombardo. He was brilliant and precise.
At number 9, is “Too Fast For Love” from Motley Crue, released in 1981.
“Too Fast For Love, their first record, was this sleazy, early punk/metal record that obviously set them apart from a lot of the hair metal stuff that was going on in LA. They had the make-up and all that stuff but they were also flirting with these occult references, everything that you want to put out there as far as an image goes to sell to teenage boys. With Lamb Of God and Megadeth, you realise that’s who is coming to see us”
I grew up with the Crue and Tommy Lee is one of the best rock drummers out there.
Finally at Number 10, there is “Far Beyond Driven” by Pantera released in 1994. The drummer of course is Vinnie Paul Abbott.
“Cowboys From Hell was their weird experiment between this redneck metal and hair metal but it was still really heavy. Vulgar Display was just absolutely devastating, you could tell they were pushing to just be the heaviest thing they could, and then Far Beyond Driven was somewhere in the middle. They took a step back, took a deep breath and said, ‘Out of the first two records, let’s pick out the things we did best and let’s do ten of those on this record.”
The trilogy was complete.