Never mind the guitar solos, the flashiness of the singers or the bright lights, lets take a closer look at what really makes a band work. The bass and drums are arguably the most important part of creating music. They create the rhythm and carry the song from start to finish. Most of these band members are overshadowed by their frontmen and are hardly acknowledged. So I decided to do an article on what I believe to be the best combinations in our genre of music.
5. John Myung/Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)
It is no secret that Dream Theater contain some of the best musicians in the world. Their music is extremely complex, progressive and requires your upmost attention. They have been dominating the scene ever since Images and Words and have continued to do so. However, the combo that is Myung and Portnoy is something that cannot be overlooked. Their precision and technical ability is the foundation of Dream Theater's music. Their synchronisation allows for Petrucci and Rudess to do what they do best. Myung brings an almost Zen-like feel to complicated bass playing, whilst Portnoy's charisma and ability carries the band's music.
4. Danny Carey/Justin Chancellor (Tool)
Justin Chancellor may be responsible for some of the best bass lines to come out of the metal genre. Ranging from Schism, Rosetta Stoned, Stinkfist and anything in-between, Chancellor is an integral part of Tool's sound. Lock that in with Carey's inhuman ability to play drums and what you get is quite mesmerising. The percussion section of Tool, for me, is what makes them stand out from every other band. The bass and drums lock in so perfectly and provide the perfect backing for Adam Jones to place his syncopated riffs. Their music doesn't have the complexity of say Dream Theater or Animals as Leaders, but as a unit Tool create a percussive atmosphere like no other.
3. Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden)
Steve Harris' triplet bass lines may be one of the most iconic and influential sounds to come out of metal bass playing. You always know it's him and it's a sound which all metalheads have come to know and love. Nicko McBrain tends to be a rather overlooked drummer in the metal world. In a day full of blast beasts and stunning technicality, traditional metal drumming is something that has been lost. Harris and McBrain are the backbone of Iron Maiden. The melodic/rhythm guitars lock in perfectly with what the bass and drums do. Every song carries itself with that Maiden gallop, and that would not exist if it wasn't for Harris and McBrain.
2. Rex Brown/Vinnie Paul (Pantera)
Pantera drew on the influences of their predecessors whilst managing to carve themselves into the holy grail of heavy metal. Their sound is rooted and stems from what Black Sabbath created and the Brown/Paul combo is reminiscent of Geezer and Bill Ward. The solo breakdowns in Pantera's music made room for Dime to rip a crazy solo whilst the bass and drums broke out into a jazz fest. 95% of metal bands forget that the bass guitar exists, turning it down in the mix completely. Pantera not only ignored this rule, but Rex Brown (a jazz trained guitarist) brought his own flavour to the music, not just simply following the riff. Combined with Vinnie Paul's powerful playing style and you get one of the tightest and heaviest band's of all time.
1. Geezer Butler/Bill Ward (Black Sabbath)
This list wouldn't be correct without a homage to Black Sabbath. Geezer and Bill Ward where loud, up front in the mix, and allowed for the riff to blaze through but brought a jazz-like feel to Sabbath's music. Just have a listen to the solo break down in Sweet Leaf and you'll hear a percussive unit like no other. Geezer and Bill Ward played in a traditional manner, carrying the songs from start to finish, whilst understanding the importance of rhythm. They are a large part of why Black Sabbath was so heavy. Combine the power of their playing with Iommi's riffs and you are presented with a sound that still to this day hasn't been matched, nor will it.