You know, everyone seems way too complacent about this Black Sabbath "reunion" not including Bill Ward. If you ask us, the absence of Ward cracking away behind a battery of loosely tuned cannons is a travesty of nearly unforgivable proportions -- particularly in this situation, where blame rests firmly on the shoulders of a petty contractual disagreement.
Ward changed the way people approached drumming by carving a sound that is as unmistakable his as it is earth-shaking, and his contributions to the rock music canon are difficult to overstate.
With the first string of reunion tour dates swiftly approaching, we have pretty much given up hope that we'll see a surprise resolution between Ward and the rest of the original Sabbath lineup. We've even, begrudgingly, started to warm up to the teaser tracks we've heard from the new record, 13, which feature former Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave drummer, Brad Wilk, in place of Ward. However, there is simply only so much grease a Rick Rubin production can return to a Sabbath lacking Ward.
We are definitely not alone in thinking that Brad Wilk is not the right man for the job. Is Wilk a competent drummer? No doubt. But, is Wilk the right drummer for Sabbath? Hell no.
Who is? Here are 11 people we'd prefer to see smacking the skins for Sabbath this summer.
11. Dale Crover
Crover is best known for his work as a pillar of the Melvins, which is resume enough for this list. However, Crover is also a member of the stoner supergroup, Shrinebuilder, a band that displays his pseudo-Wardisms in a more straight forward doom-metal context. Crover's disjointed snare hits are as recognizable as Ozzy's drawling howls.
10. Ben Koller
As a member of Boston-based metallic-hardcore band Converge, Koller's breakneck playing takes a vintage flavored approach to metal athleticism. While Koller's style might not immediately hit the Sabbath receptors in your brain, the drummer does check Ward as a major influence, and if you were to slow down some of Koller's nastier triplet fills and aggressive snare work, you'd be left with something not dissimilar from Ward's own playing.
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If you've never had the pleasure of catching Japan's gift to the riff, Boris, perform live, you haven't really lived. A major part of the fun is watching the band's drummer, Atsuo. Between the comically large drums he uses, his majestic, flowing locks, and blatant abuses of the gong, Atsuo is among the most entertaining drummers in rock music. Visuals aside, the man hits his drums with a force and style that absolutely commands a spot on this list.
8. Lars Ulrich
7. (seriously) Chuck Biscuits
If you ask us, Chuck Biscuits is one of the most underrated drummers of the past 30 years. The dude has played in D.O.A., Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Social Distortion, and most notably, Biscuits anchored the golden-era of Danzig. The dude has taste, chops, and a distinctly British feel that would fit Sabbath like a black leather glove.
6. Jimmy Bower
Jimmy "Bower Power" Bower is sludge-metal royalty. Bower has been a member of Eyehategod, Crowbar, Superjoint Ritual, and is best known as the rhythmic force behind Southern-sludge supergroup, Down. Bower's playing just reeks of Bill Ward's influence, and we feel Bower's dedication to enriching the lexicon of post-Sabbath style drumming more than warrants a place on this list.
5. J Mascis
J Mascis might be best known for his fuzzed-out guitar work and introspective vocals via his role as the frontman of Dinosaur Jr., but Mascis began his musical career as the drummer of the hardcore band Deep Wound. For this list, we're going to check his metal band, Witch, because Witch fucking rules. Also, Witch's music has some distinctly Sabbathian moments.
4. Jason Roeder
It's a widely accepted opinion that Sleep is the quintessential stoner-rock band, and we can't think of many people better suited to resting on the mighty Sabbath drum-throne than the drummer of the band that helped to reintroduce Sabbath's music to a generation.
3. Matt Cameron
Matt Cameron is currently the drummer of both Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, which means not only is he owed royalties by several purveyors of of flannel shirting, his drumming is an indelible part of grunge sound.
Cameron joined Pearl Jam in the late '90s, well after the group's initial relevance had waned a bit, but his playing on Soundgarden's recorded output was (and is) otherworldly and highly influential.
Soundgarden has been known to pull out the occasional Black Sabbath cover, even releasing a slightly reworked version of "Into the Void" as a B-side to the "Jesus Christ Pose" single. Though Cameron's performances of isn't a completely faithful reading, his unique take on the style begs the question: "what if?"
2. Josh Freese
Freese is a first call session drummer, a member of the Vandals, a former member of A Perfect Circle, and has also been a touring member of Nine Inch Nails. The dude's resume speaks for itself, but Freese's playing brings the heavy-handed beef we'd like to hear backing Black Sabbath.
1. Dave Grohl
Yeah, we know you're not surprised. Grohl is the biggest rock star to remain a complete fanboy, and it is this down-to-earth enthusiasm that allows Grohl to give it everything he has every time he steps on stage. Grohl is no stranger to performing with his heroes, and is also completely obsessed with British drumming, so we think the pairing would be a perfect fit. Just vibe this track from the Probot album (which features Wino from Dale Crover's aforementioned supergroup, Shrinebuilder) and consider it.
Black Sabbath, Wednesday, July 31, at Cruzan Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Tickets went on sale May 4. Visit cruzanamphitheatre.net.
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