Blast beat

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Hammer Blast beat drum pattern
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"The most common and simple [blast beat pattern] to begin with," found in "Scum" (Napalm Death, 1987) at 1:18
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A blast beat is a drum beat that originated in hardcore punk and grindcore, and is often associated with certain styles of extreme metal, namely black metal and death metal, [2] and occasionally in deathcore and metalcore. In Adam MacGregor's definition, "the blast-beat generally comprises a repeated, sixteenth-note figure played at a very fast tempo, and divided uniformly among the bass drum, snare, and ride, crash, or hi-hat cymbal." [2] Blast beats have been described by PopMatters contributor Whitney Strub as, "maniacal percussive explosions, less about rhythm per se than sheer sonic violence". [3]

Drum beat rhythmic pattern played on drums

A drum beat or drum pattern is a rhythmic pattern, or repeated rhythm establishing the meter and groove through the pulse and subdivision, played on drum kits and other percussion instruments. As such a "beat" consists of multiple drum strokes occurring over multiple musical beats while the term "drum beat" may also refer to a single drum stroke which may occupy more or less time than the current pulse. Many drum beats define or are characteristic of specific music genres.

Hardcore punk Subgenre of punk rock

Hardcore punk is a punk rock music genre and subculture that originated in the late 1970s. It is generally faster, harder, and more aggressive than other forms of punk rock. Its roots can be traced to earlier punk scenes in San Francisco and Southern California which arose as a reaction against the still predominant hippie cultural climate of the time. It was also inspired by New York punk rock and early proto-punk. New York punk had a harder-edged sound than its San Francisco counterpart, featuring anti-art expressions of masculine anger, energy, and subversive humor. Hardcore punk generally disavows commercialism, the established music industry and "anything similar to the characteristics of mainstream rock" and often addresses social and political topics with "confrontational, politically-charged lyrics."

Grindcore is an extreme fusion genre of heavy metal and hardcore punk that originated in the mid-1980s, drawing inspiration from abrasive-sounding musical styles, such as: thrashcore, crust punk, hardcore punk, extreme metal, and industrial. Grindcore is characterized by a noise-filled sound that uses heavily distorted, down-tuned guitars, grinding overdriven bass, high speed tempo, blast beats, and vocals which consist of growls and high-pitched shrieks. Early groups like Napalm Death are credited with laying the groundwork for the style. It is most prevalent today in North America and Europe, with popular contributors such as Brutal Truth and Nasum. Lyrical themes range from a primary focus on social and political concerns, to gory subject matter and black humor.

Contents

The 'original' or traditional blastbeat is a single-stroke roll played between your cymbal and snare, with your kick playing simultaneously with every cymbal hit. [1]

Napalm Death is said to have coined the term, [4] though this style of drumming had been used by others for its characteristically chaotic sound .

Napalm Death British grindcore band

Napalm Death are a British extreme metal band formed in Meriden, West Midlands, England, in 1981. While none of its original members remain in the group since December 1986, the lineup of vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway, bassist Shane Embury, guitarist Mitch Harris and drummer Danny Herrera has remained consistent of the band's career since 1992's Utopia Banished, although, from 1989 to 2004, Napalm Death were a five-piece band after they added Jesse Pintado as the replacement of one-time guitarist Bill Steer; following Pintado's departure, the band reverted to a four-piece rather than replace him.

History

The English band Napalm Death coined the term "blast beat", [4] though this style of drumming had previously been practiced by others. Daniel Ekeroth argues that the blast beat was first performed by the Swedish group Asocial on their 1982 demo. [5] D.R.I. (1983, "No Sense"), [2] Sepultura (1985, track 11, "Antichrist"), S.O.D. (1985, track 11, "Milk"), Sarcófago (1986, track 10, "Satanas"), and Repulsion [6] also included the technique prior to Napalm Death's emergence. Rockdetector contributor Garry Sharpe-Young credits D.R.I.'s Eric Brecht as the first on their 1983 debut but credits Napalm Death with making it better known. [7] AllMusic contributor Thom Jurek credits Tony Williams of Trio of Doom as the "true inventor of the blastbeat" [8] in 1979.

Dirty Rotten Imbeciles American crossover thrash band

Dirty Rotten Imbeciles is an American crossover thrash band that formed in Houston, Texas in 1982. The band is currently composed of two of its founding members, vocalist Kurt Brecht and guitarist Spike Cassidy, as well as drummer Rob Rampy and bass player Greg Orr.

<i>Dirty Rotten LP</i> album by Dirty Rotten Imbeciles

Dirty Rotten EP/LP is the 1983 debut release by the crossover thrash band Dirty Rotten Imbeciles. The album has a very gritty sound, and is considered one of the first thrashcore albums.

Sepultura Brazilian metal band

Sepultura is a Brazilian heavy metal band from Belo Horizonte. Formed in 1984 by brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, the band was a major force in the groove metal, thrash metal and death metal genres during the late 1980s and early 1990s, with their later experiments drawing influence from alternative metal, world music, nu metal, hardcore punk and industrial metal. Sepultura has also been credited as one of the leaders of the second wave of thrash metal in the late 1980s and early-to-mid-1990s.

There are instances of jazz drummers incorporating blast beat patterns prior to the 1970s.[ examples needed ] Drummer Bill Ward of Black Sabbath can be seen playing a brief blast beat in a 1970 performance of "War Pigs." Additionally, drummer Carl Palmer of the progressive rock super-group Emerson, Lake & Palmer briefly used a blast beat in the band's 1970 instrumental "The Barbarian". King Crimson's "The Devil's Triangle" from their 1970 album In the Wake of Poseidon also features an early example of proto-blastbeats in the later half of the song. However, the blast beat as it is known today originated in the European hardcore and grindcore scenes in the 1980s. Contrary to popular belief, blast beats originated from punk and hardcore music, not metal music. [9] In the UK punk and hardcore scene of the early 1980s there were many bands attempting to play as fast as possible. In 1985 emerging grindcore band Napalm Death replaced their former drummer Miles "Rat" Ratledge with Mick Harris, who brought to the band a whole new level of speed. Harris became the official drummer of Napalm Death and is credited with developing the term "blast beat", describing the fast notes played on the kick and snare. [10] Harris started using the blast beat as a fundamental aspect of Napalm Death's early musical compositions. It was finally with Napalm Death's first full-length album Scum (1987) that blast beat started to evolve into a distinct musical expression of its own. Blast beats became popular in extreme music from the mid to late 1980s . [11] The blast beat evolved into its modern form as it was developed in the American death metal and grindcore scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Pete Sandoval, drummer of Terrorizer (1986–1989) and later Morbid Angel (1984–2013), purportedly was the first to use blast beats in metronomic time (and not as arhythmic or non-metric white noise) and thus gave it a more useful musical characteristic for timekeeping. [11]

Bill Ward (musician) English musician

William Thomas Ward is an English musician and visual artist, best known as the original drummer of the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He also performed lead vocals on two Black Sabbath songs: "It's Alright" from the album Technical Ecstasy and "Swinging the Chain" from the album Never Say Die!. Ward is known for his very unorthodox style of playing the drums, often using snare-drills and tempo-drop to match both vocals and riff.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward, and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

Carl Palmer English drummer

Carl Frederick Kendall Palmer is an English drummer and percussionist, credited as one of the most respected rock drummers to emerge from the 1960s. He is a veteran of a number of famous English bands: the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Asia. Inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1989, he was awarded "Prog God" at the 2017 Progressive Music Awards.

Blast beats eventually appeared in commercially successful metal music, beginning with Fear Factory's album Demanufacture (1995) and Slipknot's album Iowa (2001). [12]

Fear Factory American metal band

Fear Factory is an American heavy metal band that was formed in 1989. Throughout the band's career, they have released nine full-length albums and have evolved through a succession of styles, including nu metal, death metal, groove metal, and thrash metal. Fear Factory was enormously influential on the heavy metal scene in the mid-to-late 1990s.

<i>Demanufacture</i> (album) album

Demanufacture is the second studio album by American industrial metal band Fear Factory, released on June 13, 1995 by Roadrunner Records. Burton C. Bell wrote the majority of the lyrics and Dino Cazares wrote all the music. This is the band's first album with their classic line-up; adding new bassist Christian Olde Wolbers. Although credited, his actual input is disputed between current and former band members. Many regard it as the band's best album and a heavy metal classic. The album was certified Gold in Australia by ARIA and Silver in the UK by the BPI.

Slipknot (band) American heavy metal band

Slipknot is an American heavy metal band from Des Moines, Iowa. The band was founded in 1995 by percussionist Shawn Crahan, drummer Joey Jordison and bassist Paul Gray. After several lineup changes in its early years, the band settled on nine members for more than a decade: Shawn Crahan, Joey Jordison, Paul Gray, Corey Taylor, Mick Thomson, Jim Root, Craig Jones, Sid Wilson, and Chris Fehn. Gray died on May 24, 2010, and was replaced during 2011–2014 by guitarist Donnie Steele. Jordison was fired from the band on December 12, 2013. Steele left during the recording sessions for .5: The Gray Chapter. The band found replacements in Alessandro Venturella on bass and Jay Weinberg on drums. After the departure of Jordison, as of December 2013 the only founding member in the current lineup is percussionist Crahan.

Characteristics

Blast beat drum pattern
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A blast beat is traditionally played as an alternating single-stroke roll broken up between the kick drum and the snare drum. Blast beats are counted in 32nd or 16th notes. In a modern musical context blast beats are usually regarded as such when played at a minimum of above 90 beats per minute 32nd notes, or 180 bpm 16th notes. [13] Early blast beats were generally quite slow and less precise compared to today's standards. Nowadays, a blast beat is normally played from 180 bpm 16th notes up to such high tempos as in the range of 250-280 bpm 16th notes (or even higher). There is also the "gravity blast", not to be confused with the one-handed gravity roll (see below). This technique uses the rim of the snare drum as a fulcrum, allowing two snare hits with one downward motion (essentially doing the work of two hands with only one).

Typical blast beats consist of 8th-note patterns between both the bass and snare drum alternately, with the hi-hat or the ride synced. Variations exist such as displacing hi-hat/ride, snare and bass drum hits and/or using other cymbals such as splashes, crashes, chinas and even tambourines for accenting, for example when using odd time or playing progressively. While playing 8th or 8th note triplets some drummers choose to play in sync with one foot while others split the 8th notes between both feet. In blast beats in general, the notes on the kick drum can be played either with one foot only or by alternating both feet, referred to as a "two-foot" or "economy" blast. [9]

As blast beats have evolved, different types and interpretations have emerged. There are four main variations of the blast beat: the traditional blast, the bomb blast, the hammer blast and the freehand blast. [14]

The traditional blast beat is a single-stroke roll alternating between the snare drum and kick drum. The ride hand is usually playing in unison with the kick drum. [9] The traditional blast beat is structurally very similar to the skank beat, which can be regarded as a predecessor and a half time variation of the traditional blast beat. The skank beat originated in the early punk and thrash metal scene as a drum beat for extreme music. The skank beat is similar to the blast beat as it alternates between the kick and the snare, with the difference that the ride hand plays notes in unison with both kick and snare. A skank beat is in other words a sped up 2/4 rock or polka beat. In the US the skank beat was early on also referred to as the "Slayer" or "thrash" beat due to its popularity among thrash metal bands such as Slayer. [15]

The bomb blast is essentially a combination of blast beat and double bass drumming. When measured in 16th notes a bomb blast consists of 8th notes on the snare played above a 16th notes kick drum line. Most drummers play this beat by leading with the snare, while the traditional blast beat is usually led with the kick. The bomb blast became popular among 1990s death metal bands such as Cannibal Corpse, which is why the bomb blast is also referred to as the "Cannibal" blast. [16]

The hammer blast is played with the kick and snare in unison. Instead of playing 8th notes kick and snare in alternation and thus creating a 16th notes roll, the hammer blast is played as a straight 8th notes roll on the kick and snare simultaneously. The advantage of the hammer blast is that you only need one fast hand, which usually is your leading hand (right for right-handed and left for left-handed). If your weaker hand can't keep up with the 8th notes snare line, you can play quarter notes. The kick drum line can be played with one foot as well as a two-footed economy blast. When played at an extremely fast tempo, the hammer blast can be referred to as a "hyper blast". The hammer blast became popular in death metal music of the early 1990s. [17]

The freehand blast, also known as the gravity blast, utilizes the gravity roll technique in a blast beat context. Of all the main blast beat variations, this one is the most recent to have emerged. The snare line is played as a 16th notes single stroke roll, also known as a gravity roll or single handed roll. The roll is played with an up and down motion in which you push and pull the drumstick on and off the snare drum. By using the snare rim as a fulcrum you create a stroke each time you push and pull the drumstick up and down. In this way, the player can double the output of notes to match the amount of notes produced by two feet on the bass drum. It usually presents similarly to a unison hammer blast, but at double the tempo of what would be possible with normal techniques. One drawback is that this blast has a limited volume. The concept behind the gravity roll is not new, but is noted for being brought into modern music by drummer Johhny Rabb. Rabb has published the book The Official Freehand Technique, which covers the gravity roll technique. [18] The term "gravity roll" or "gravity blast," while common and accepted usage, is less correct than "freehand roll" or "fulcrum roll" in that the technique does not rely on gravity and can be played sideways, inverted, or in a zero gravity environment. [19]

Examples

Examples of the four main blast beat variations in drum tab:

 C- x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-|   C- x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-|   C- x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-|   C- x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-|  S- o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-|   S- -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o|   S- o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-|   S- oooooooooooooooo|  B- o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-|   B- o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-|   B- oooooooooooooooo|   B- o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-|

The first example is a hammer blast. The second example shows a traditional blast beat - essentially a skank beat played at a high tempo (this particular one leads with the bass drum, but the snare can lead as well). Example #3 shows a blast beat with double bass, known as a bomb blast. Example #4 illustrates a freehand blast, also known as a gravity blast.

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 Schlueter, Brad (2016). "11 Blastbeats To Master: Improve Your Technique With This Extreme Chops Challenge", DrumMagazine.com.
  2. 1 2 3 Adam MacGregor, PCP Torpedo by Agoraphobic Nosebleed review, Dusted, June 11, 2006. Access date: October 2, 2008. "There is one uniformly present attribute in all examples of 'grindcore', that being the so-called 'blast-beat.'"
  3. Strub, Whitney (May 11, 2006). "Behind the Key Club: An Interview with Mark 'Barney' Greenway of Napalm Death", PopMatters at the Wayback Machine (archived 2008-10-30)
  4. 1 2 Strub, Whitney. "Behind the Key Club: An Interview with Mark 'Barney' Greenway of Napalm Death". PopMatters, May 11, 2006. Accessed on September 17, 2008.
  5. Ekeroth, Daniel (2008). Swedish Death Metal, p. 22. Bazillion Points Books. ISBN   9780979616310.
  6. Matthew Widener, "Scared to Death: The Making of Repulsion's Horrified", Decibel no. 46, August 2008, p. 63-69.
  7. Sharpe-Young, Garry (2007). Metal: The Definitive Guide, p.436 (and 162). Jawbone. ISBN   9781906002015. "The concept of this deadly device, a 200bpm-plus staccato barrage of kick and snare-drum."
  8. Review of The Trio of Doom Live by Thom Jurek, AllMusic. "On 'Dark Prince' and elsewhere, it's obvious that Williams is the true inventor of the blastbeat, not some generic heavy metal drummer."
  9. 1 2 3 Roddy, Derek (2007). The Evolution of Blast Beats. p. 22. ISBN   1423460162. DVD: ASIN: B002UD475Y.
  10. Mudrian, Albert (2004). Choosing Death - The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore. Los Angeles, CA 90039: Feral House. pp. 30–37. ISBN   1-932595-04-X.
  11. 1 2 Roddy (2007). The Evolution of Blast Beats. p. 10. ISBN   1423460162.
  12. Ellis, Graham, "Decade of Horror," Terrorizer issue 184, June 2009, p. 25.
  13. Roddy (2007). p. 10–11, 101.
  14. Roddy (2007). p. 18.
  15. Roddy (2007). p. 14.
  16. Roddy (2007). p. 26.
  17. Roddy (2007). p. 28.
  18. Roddy (2007), p. 30.
  19. Bloom, Ryan Alexander. Live Drum & Bass. New York: Hudson Music, 2018.