Hardest Songs to Play On Drums


The Top TenXW

1Dance of Eternity - Dream Theater

Easily the most challenging song I have come across. I have seen multiple transcripts of this song and it is mind blowing. While Neil Peart's parts for various Rush songs are amazing, my hat goes off to Mike Portnoy for this masterpiece. I'm actually surprised to see that Pull Me Under is this far up on the list. Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence should at least be in the top 25 as well as A Change of Seasons. Let me know when Avenged Sevenfold writes a song with some 7/16 measures as well as 5/8 and some 11/4.

I learned the whole song (minus the straight double bass patterns that are in it, I play single pedal and improvise with those parts on the bass drum) and it only took me 2 months Dance of eternity is probably the most rhythmically complex piece of music I've ever attempted, props to Portnoy on this one. True drum masterpiece m/

I complete this song in about 1 month of work.. It is a VERY hard song for someone who has difficulties to understand the change of times.. But this song is a very good one to learn and master the time signature

Learnt within 3 days. Just slow it down, pick the parts and, yeah, quite easy to master. Do the bass drum part, then snare and work from there...

V28 Comments
2Bleed - Meshuggah

How is it possible that this is not top? Polyrhythms on the hat, with the bass drum playing cross rhythms and triplets in different time signatures, for 7 minutes... If you can play this, you are not human. If you can even get the god damned first pattern, you are not human.

I've seen Tomas Haake perform this live and I still don't understand how this can even be played. Some drum parts in other songs may sound more rhythmically pleasing or have more parts, but nothing is as mind numbingly complicated as Bleed. The polyrhythms coupled with whatever wizardry is happening with the double bass boggles my mind every time I listen to the song. It's over 7 minutes long, and you have to keep in 4/4 time despite playing different rhythms. Tomas Haake is a god among men for being able to master this song.

This is easily top 3 material. This is harder than many a Dream Theater song itself, even technical monsters such as Constant Motion or anything off of Octavarium. The sheer coordination and endurance needed to play this song well is absolutely unreal.

This is #1 to me. The foot work triples any other song alone, the insane coordination of the hands. Try to play this song (note for note) and then come back to vote. I saw someone say that this is an odd time signature. Its really not. Its 4/4, that is why the drums get so much credit! To play this you have to be a magician.

V20 Comments
3Tom Sawyer - Rush

I think this song and ticks and leeches should switch spots because pretty much the only really hard part of this song is the drum solo. while on the other hand, ticks and leeches is like a long 8 minute drum solo. Sorry Peart, still a great song though.

Not a drummer but I listen to a lot of varied music and Neil is amazing to watch and listen to.

O my god! This is like the best song ever.
I am doing this song for recital and it is very hard song and fun to play and don't you love sweating!

There are at least 30 Rush songs more difficult than this

V26 Comments
4A Little Piece of Heaven - Avenged Sevenfold

Why? It's not even the hardest avenged sevenfold song, I agree it's harder than the average song but definitely not worth 3rd place. The beast and the Harlot is so much more difficult than this. I could name about 40 dream theater songs that are more difficult than this song.

I think this song is not that hard but after must have stabbed her fifty times after the rev sings then it's hard the part when they sing she was never this good in bed that part is hard

This song is pretty easy for me but I play a lot of drums all the time but I think that nightmare or beast and the harlot is harder-

Nightmare is definitely not harder, but beast and the harlot? Yeah!

A prime example of what legitimate complex drumming is.

V9 Comments
5Lateralus - Tool

I've been drumming for 21 years, 17 on a kit, and I have more respect and reverence for Danny Carey than any other drummer, by an astronomical margin. My top 3 influences in drumming have been Kodo (a drumming group), Blue Man Group (a drumming group) and Danny Carey at #1. It's no coincidence that I put him, a single person, on the same level as drum groups with as many as 20 drummers playing concurrently. His internal clock is unassailable. His limb control is out of this world, and his sense of rhythm and musicality is a thing of legend. He is the only drummer in the world that could add what he has added to Tool for so long. No other drummer could match the level of innovation that we find with MJK, Jones, Chancellor, and D'Amour without stealing the show.

The best drummers are the ones that fill the space in the music they accompany. No one, and I mean NO ONE could do Tool the way Carey does. Such innovative music, and he fills the space without EVER overpowering the other ...more

Ok let's be completely honest here.. Danny is king. I still to this day have only seen like 3 people successfully cover his hard songs. Triad? Ticks & Leeches? Have any of you even tried to play some of these songs? You really have no idea what your voting on if you haven't tried to play some of these songs. All those other drummers come and go. Drummers like Danny Carey only exist once in a trillion years.

I've been playing for years and years and have studied the greats. I can play almost all of the top song on this list.. Well except Bleed.. still tightening that one up.. damn you Tomas! Anyway.. Try playing Triad.. Danny overlaps polyrhythms like a drum machine with a swing knob. I have never met more challenging technique, patterns, polyrhythmic structure, and swift dynamics then any Tool song. Danny Carey is probably the best drummer in the universe right now.. I'm just happy he's here on earth!

Mike from Dream Theater is great... But lets be real here. He is NO Carey... "peart" is great.. But just like Jimmy Hendrix... He was only an innovator.. Danny Carey (tool) is the greatest drummer I have heard... I drum.. Have for 20+ years..4 bands and even a few records under my belt
The time stamps and just all out craziness of tools music.. Would make MOST (all other) drummers cry... Sure I can play "the pot".. HWAP.. The grudge.. And a few other tools songs... But its crazy hard to learn.. And even when you KNOW it ALL... The same song will keep surprising you.
Danny Carey = Drum God

I am pretty surprised that this song isn't higher. He is a very tricky drummer. Fast... And tricky.

V23 Comments
6La Villa Strangiato - Rush

I honestly don't understand at all why there are so many Avenged Sevenfold songs on this list. Yes, the Rev is dead, but let's be honest, he is nowhere near the magnitude of Neil Peart or Mike Portnoy. I know people that play fast, hell I can play fast, it's not that hard. The hard part of drumming is being technical and composition, not repeating the same exact thing through verses and choruses, or little fills, but being able to tell a story with your drumming. The Rev should not be on this list.

As for Rush songs, La Villa Strangiato is easily their hardest song. Tom Sawyer is difficult yes, but it also has a lot of fills. To quote Neil, "There are no mistakes, only new additions".

If you don't believe me, ask any REAL drummer out there about this song. They'll tell you for themselves.

This song is by far the most technically demanding song on the planet. Trying to tackle it in one take without messing up in the insanely odd time signatures and the fact that they change literally instantly and that this song is 9 minutes of just pure endurance (mental and physical) and has literally been the bar for technicality on the drums since 1978.

This is the only answer if one seeks a song that is near impossible to master. The complexities of the different sections, mixed with changing time signatures, fills, and flourishes make La Villa Strangiato an incredible test of not only one's chops, but also timing and fortitude.

A true masterpiece. Those signatures, change of speed, cadence and flow that is one of my top 5 instrumental!

V20 Comments
721st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson

A combination of progressive rock and jazz, with absurd fills dancing between unbelievably technical and fast-paced percussion.

Insanity and brilliance often come together hey!

It is insanely hard some on the list are very easy less your just starting

8Good Times Bad Times - Led Zeppelin

One of the finest drum parts ever. I like the 16th notes on the bass drum. I never fail to enjoy the drums on this song. I have been lucky enough to cover this in bands too and I must add it is my favourite drum part to cover. Often non drummers do not understand why as it is all in the feet. If you listen closely especially towards the end when it is easier to hear clearly he plays rapid triplet notes with his bass drum. These notes are more difficult to get right than Tom Sawyer and they are also very easy to mistime too. There is also more feel than a lot of other drummers in this song too. On top of that John Henry Bonham was 19 when he recorded this song.

Simply the best



A lot of the songs on this list are highlighted by their confusing bass patterns. The difference between this song and those is that those were played on double bass, meanwhile this was played on single and that's what makes it so difficult. Heck, it's even challenging on double bass!

John Bonham did more with one(14x26")bass drum than most drummers today can do with TWO and that's just a straight up fact. Also used only ONE bass pedal as well"Ludwig Speed King" Not wanting to rain on a lot of y'alls parades but... Double bass as well as double bass pedals are nothing at all to brag about!

The single kick, that's all I'm saying

V11 Comments
9The Violation - Fleshgod Apocalypse

First of all, I want to say that I agree with this being really hard to play. This kind of speed takes years to develop. But why this song? The drumming isn't really harder than a lot of technical death metal or blackened death metal like this, but this is the only song like this I see on the list. So I'm just wondering why is this one considered harder than the rest.

The speed in this songs drumming must leave the drummer exhausted.. Its SUPER fast

Why the hell is tom sawyer ahead of this song? How is tom sawyer any kind of difficult?

How can someone listen to this song and think it sounds good?

V5 Comments
10Hot for Teacher - Van Halen

I'll make it short and simple hot for teacher best, funnest, hardest drums I've ever heard van Halen one of the best old bands ever there music will live forever

1 thing: Tom Sawyer is probably the most overrated drum set tune ever. I know 6 year olds who can play it. It was actually assigned that every one at my music school should know how to play Tom Sawyer on drums. Hot For teacher has herta-triplet grids in the intro, an you also use your feet to play it as well. This is the hardest, fast, hard, and fun once you get the hang of it.

... Not sure it's the hardest, but hella fun to play!

The Newcomers

?All Alone - Blind Witness

This song is SO hard. It has so many time changes and is really fast

?Illumination Theory - Dream Theater

Hardest song ever to learn on drums...period,.

The Contenders

11Dyers Eve - Metallica

Dyers eve is such an aggressive song its not funny! It is one of the best Metallica songs and is the hardest on drums for sure!

What's more amazing than Lars playing this track? Being able to remember it all!

Easily the hardest song to play on the drums.

Way harder than all of those

V4 Comments
12Beast and the Harlot - Avenged Sevenfold

Is this truly the only song by Avenged Sevenfold you could find? I would have chosen their song Streets or A little piece of heaven, at least you mentioned them.

This song is not very hard. Its just very fast. Doesn't belong in the top ten. Ticks and leeches belongs in the top ten for sure.

Why don't all of you play straight double bass for the amount of time that Rev and now Arron have to play in a single show

Definitely not their hardest... Try bat country or M.I.A.

V12 Comments
13Pull Me Under - Dream Theater

Yeah man! I don't drum by myself but I can hear clearly that mike is the best drummer in the entire world, Even as the other guys in the band, I play guitar and believe me I can't name a person who has more emotion in his solo's and is so creative in playing the instrument that he can create lots of genius numbers than jhon petrucci.
Even as jordan ruddes and the silent man Myjung.
And its so incredible that they can replace Mike (for a mike) But personally I think Mike shouldn't leave the band. I hope You english guys can read it because I've never made such a long comment like this one...

I love Dream Theater, they're one of my favorite bands, and I agree that Mike Portnoy is the the greatest drummer ever (right up there with John Bonham), and Pull Me Under is a fantastic song, but as a drummer, I can safely say that Pull Me Under is NOT one of the hardest songs to play on the drums. I don't know why the hell this is even on this list. Usually, these lists are tainted by people who don't know what the hell they're talking about (ex. Non-drummers). But what I don't understand is, that this is a song that even non-drummers who are clueless still shouldn't think this is a hard song, as usually they think the drummer who can use a double-bass peddle the fastest is the greatest drummer. Ugh... I'm done with this site.

Wow! Glad to see good old Mike Portnoy at #1! But this not one of his VERY greatest performances. For instance: The Glass Prison, A Change Of Seasons, and The Dance Of Eternity to name a few. But this is very hard! Every song by them is hard to play on every instrument. - moose4life19

Why this one? You're on the right track mentioning Dream Theater, but this is no doubt one of their simpler songs on, well, every instrument. - Songsta41

V10 Comments
14Led Zeppelin - Moby Dick

How is this so far down the list? Should be top 5 at least!

This is much harder than almost all songs in the top 10

Just listen to it. It's basically a 4 minute drum solo.

Moby dick should be in the top ten

V7 Comments
15Ticks and Leeches - Tool

simply amazing, the raw energy and emotion put into this song just blows everything else out of the water. also a huge strain on the vocals. there's a reason this song is rarely played live

Wow. Does anyone know why tom sawyer is up so high? I mean there are plenty of much harder songs than that one. This song is absolutely one of them. And one more thing I don't understand is why hells kitchen and metropolis part 1 by dream theater are not even on this list.

This song is the craziest song that was ever made on drums. The song is loaded with polyrhythms and is extremely hard to play danny is the drum God. Neil part Tom Sawyer is good and all but Tom sawyer doesn't compare to the complexity of any tool song

SERIOUSLY?. this song not only has one of the hardest drums to play IN THE HISTORY OF MUSIC, but it has one of the best drummers alive. what I'm saying is this should not be in 15th place, it belongs up in the top 5!.

V11 Comments
16The Carbon Stampede - Cattle Decapitation
17YYZ - Rush

A load more difficult than Tom Sawyer, this song changes time signature nearly every bar and it makes it really confusing to play

Awesome with difficult time signature

I think this song should be top ten at least it is a very confusing song to drum

This should be in place of Tom sawer its definitely more difficult.

V6 Comments
18War Ensemble - Slayer

Favorite Slayer song, and quite hard indeed. But hey? The songs who have been listed here are just here because they are the hardest song from a mainstream/famous band. Lisin' to a song like The Essential Salts from Nile and you will know what I mean. It's probably the hardest drum song ever.

That drum fill right before the tempo change... No thanks

I can't believe war ensemble stands at 18. This is an insult. - KVXMG

V4 Comments
19Adam's Song - Blink 182

Really? I'm 11 and I learnt to play this when I was 10. Maybe Feeling This by Blink.

Travis Barker is overrated.

20The Enemy Inside - Dream Theater

Tool and dream theater should be all over this countdown

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List StatsUpdated 1 Dec 2015

1,000 votes
188 listings
5 years, 106 days old

Top Remixes (9)

1. Dance of Eternity - Dream Theater
2. 21st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson
3. Dyers Eve - Metallica
1. The Violation - Fleshgod Apocalypse
2. The Carbon Stampede - Cattle Decapitation
3. Beyond Bludgeoned - Brain Drill
1. The Betrayal - Fleshgod Apocalypse
2. The Violation - Fleshgod Apocalypse
3. Bleed - Meshuggah

View All 9


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