Hardest Songs to Play On Drums


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The Top Ten

Dance 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 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
The hardest thing about this song by far is remembering how to play it without having to stop to squint at the music. Its basically 6 minutes of playing pretty much randomly timed drum beats at about 200 different speeds and time signatures. If you're trying to play it without listening to it in the background, then good luck...


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2Tom Sawyer - Rush
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!
Not a drummer but I listen to a lot of varied music and Neil is amazing to watch and listen to.
love and intelligence for drums ..
As much as I like this song (and it's certainly difficult to play), I can't agree with this being first. I learned this song when I was like 12 or something in a a couple of weeks
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3A Little Piece of Heaven - Avenged Sevenfold
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
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.
Men I listen this song..
and I know I have no chance to play this on drums..

and R.I.P. the REV...

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4Bleed - 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.
Okay so this song was so hard for Tomas Haake, they they nearly didn't put it on the ObZen album due to the fact that he couldn't play te whole thing. Thankfully he mastered it. The main phrase in this song is based off the polymeric Herta. Also, polymeric counter timing is placed ontop of that with the cymbals and snare. The foot stamina needed and the knowledge to play the complex 3 bar refreshing phrases, it's quite the comprehension challenge... Not to mention the song is completely written in 4/4 dispite the metric illusions...
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.
I don't listen to this song because it makes me want to quit drumming because it's so damn difficult to play, it's one of the two songs on this list I have heard and can't play, the other being "The Violation."
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5La 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.
In Beyond the Lighted Stage video on Rush, they interviewed Mike Portney and he said "The first time I heard RUSH, I said they're incredible. I became obsessed, they were my Gods." Although he's awesome, Neil Peart is still the original and best. Great tributes on the video from real drummers, too... And they all say this is by far the hardest song to play.
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6Pull Me Under - Dream Theater
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.
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...
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.


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7Beast 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 A7X song is just great, and this song is hard on the drums, but I have mastered it.


I like to be be a drummer like these guys
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8Hot 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.
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9Lateralus - Tool
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
So many weird time signatures, and the fibonnacci sequence in the song is absolutely insane to grasp. Just an amazing song with amazing features and amazing drumming.
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10Good 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!
Pull me under? Give me a break, that guy used a double kick, and check this out, bonham didn't, only one kick, this guy are legend!
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The Contenders

1121st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson
I can't believe nobody has commented on this song. I am a lifelong drummer, and the power and expertise into driving the drum fills in the solos and 'mirrors' part of the song is dreadfully difficult! It takes raw energy to perfect but also precise timing as the same time. Plus it was one of the very first progressive rock songs.

12Led 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.
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13Dyers 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.
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14Ticks 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
Most of tool songs are very hard to play "high level" but this one and "the grudge" can blow your mind when you try to play it. Just a few drumers put this kind of creativity and effort to their songs. Tool without Carey couldnÂ't be the tool we know.
And odd beat and the entire song keeps you guessing "whats the next beat"? Specially the part after the interlude
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15YYZ - Rush
Awesome with difficult time signature
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16War 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.
Defaintly I'm barely coming to play songs by slayer, and Dave Lombardo is just a plain out beast on the drums, this song certainly derserves a spot as of the hardest!
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17The Betrayal - Fleshgod Apocalypse Listen to sample

18The Violation - Fleshgod Apocalypse Listen to sample

19Brianstorm - Arctic Monkeys
Sorry but no. Very fun song to play but I've only been drumming six months and I can play this song. There is actually a lot of other arctic monkeys songs that are even harder
Matt helder is sick
It's super fast which usually makes a song hard


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20Silent Flight Parlaiment - Between the Buried and Me Listen to sample

21Almost Easy - Avenged Sevenfold
It's funny that this song would be titled as so; it's far from easy to play on drums.
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22Your Treachery Will Die With You - Dying Fetus
I've tried this song muulitple times, and jesus is it hard, It is defaintly one of the hardest.
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23The Glass Prison - Dream Theater Listen to sample

24Laser Cannon Deth Sentence - Dethklok Listen to sample

25The Count of Tuscany - Dream Theater Listen to sample

26Bat Country - Avenged Sevenfold
This really is a hard song to drum, a couple of rhythms and beastly fills.

R.I.P. Jimmy.
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27Eeyore - Slipknot Listen to sample

28Karn Evil 9 - Emerson Lake & Palmer Listen to sample

29Psychosocial - Slipknot
I'm not talking about psychosocial because there are harder songs of joey, but he is the best drummer! He is very fast and he has an excellent technique... And where is Dave Lombardo on the list?
Very hard, But Gematria And All Hope Is Gone Should Be Here, Both are very hard songs...
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30Through the Fire and Flames - DragonForce
The drums in this... Oh my god, this has got to be the hardest song in the world on drums.
Guys just listen to this...
Without question this song is one of the hardest.
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31Llama - Phish Listen to sample

32Blood and Thunder - Mastodon Listen to sample

33Rush - The Spirit of Radio Listen to sample

34Blue Train - Asian Kung-Fu Generation Listen to sample

35The Perfect Drug - Nine Inch Nails
its nine inch nails this song is so hard tht trent reznor doesn't even play it live
I can play a lot of songs listed above in the top 10. Cannot play this.
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36Art of Life - X Japan
This song is just ridiculously long, not necessary the most technical difficult one but the length is just ridiculous.

37Fire - Jimi Hendrix Listen to sample

38Composure - August Burns Red
I feel like composure deserves to be way higher up on the list... Pretty challenging dudes
This is a hard song
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39Wipeout - The Ventures
This is the hardest, but Hot For Teacher is a very close second.


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40Victimized - Linkin Park
One of the most aggressive Linkin Park songs and one of my favorite from Living Things. Rob Bourdon did good job on drums
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41Run to the Hills - Iron Maiden
This song is normal challenged, and it's really fun play, but not the hardest.
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42Painkiller - Judas Priest
Such a badass song, possibly my favorite, and the drumming is a huge part of what make it a classic. Listen once and you'll know what I mean. Such intense drumming that never lets up during the song's six minutes
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43Altered From Catechization - Job for a Cowboy Listen to sample

44Adam's Song - Blink 182
Really? I'm 11 and I learnt to play this when I was 10. Maybe Feeling This by Blink.
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45The Grudge - Tool
This is very hard to play, specially the last minutes, it would take a lot of practice and listen carefully several times to finally understand what Carey did in that song. Just Amazing.
Ending is just just... Unbelievable it is impossible to believe a human did this!
Definitely the hardest tool song by far m8

46Honor Thy Father - Dream Theater
This is the hardest song on this list.
Wut? This song should be in top 10, instead of Pull Me Under, this song is way harder. And damn that intro is sick!
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47Bloodlines - Dethklok Listen to sample

48Demigod - Behemoth Listen to sample

49Red Hot Chili Peppers - Brendan's Death Song Listen to sample

50Led Zeppelin - Achilles Last Stand Listen to sample

51Pearl Jam - Jeremy Listen to sample

52Symbolic - Death Listen to sample

53One - Metallica
Although the beginning of the song is not exactly difficult to play, as the song gets heavier and faster, you start to really notice the difficulty and complexity it has, especially with the "All that I see" part, with the repeating sextuplet double bass patterns.
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54What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse - The Black Dahlia Murder Listen to sample

55Pull Harder On the Strings of Your Martyr - Trivium
Tricky foot work and beats, especially on the verse's and intro
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56Vicarious - Tool
This song looks simple when watching someone do a drum cover but it isn't easy I recommend playing this song and other hard songs when you have at least 4 yrs of experience with the drums before attempting this and other hard songs.

57AEnima - Tool

58Fury of the Storm

59Heart's All Gone - Blink 182
If we compare this song to dance of eternity, dance of eternity is just an old song played by an old guy
This song is a 3 minutes song with lots of variation of techniques and very" fast but in order not thrash like all those fast black metal drumming
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60Welcome to Paradise - Green Day Listen to sample

61Blind - Korn Listen to sample

62Scatterbrain - Jeff Beck
I don't really play drums, but I know this song is crazy hard on guitar, so I assumed the drums would be equally crazy. jeff beck is a monster either way
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63Bonzo's Montreux - Led Zeppelin Listen to sample

64Aristocrat's Symphony - Versailles Listen to sample

65Eyeless - Slipknot Listen to sample

66Scavenger of Human Sorrow - Death Listen to sample

67If 6 Was 9 - Jimi Hendrix Listen to sample

68Don't Look Now, I'm Being Followed. Act Normal - Hands Like Houses Listen to sample

69Blinded In Chains - Avenged Sevenfold
I can't BELIEVE IT! This song is by far the hardest song to play on the drums. It is slightly harder than Dance of Eternity, and definitely number 1!
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70Xanadu - Rush
Xanadu is an amazing song, the fills are impossible and so complex, youve really gotta be a freak of nature to play this song well, and you need about 6000000$ to spend on drum materials.
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71The Art of Dying - Gojira
Trying to play along to the first pattern is insane. Interlude takes a lot of stamina also.
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72Let There Be Rock (Live) - AC/DC Listen to sample

73Stream of Consciousness - Dream Theater Listen to sample

74Behold - Born of Osiris Listen to sample

75Mo ’N Herb’s Vacation - Frank Zappa Listen to sample

76Subdivisions - Rush Listen to sample

77Walk With Me In Hell - Lamb of God Listen to sample

78Caught In a Mosh - Anthrax
Drums are crazy later in the song. I played this on drums and my hands got sore!
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79Emenius Sleepus - Green Day Listen to sample

80Panic Song - Green Day Listen to sample

81Platypus (I Hate You) - Green Day
I almost strained myself playing this
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82Triskelion Song

83Ignotus Per Ignotium - Planet X

84Murder - This Is Not a Game of Who the F**k Are You
It's a death metal song then jumps to a jazz beat in the middle of it, then back to death metal. It's some pretty hard stuff. Also the song islandman by the same band is pretty tough too.
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85Rat Salad - Black Sabbath

86Mastodon - Iron Tusk Listen to sample

87Spleen - Staind Listen to sample

88Rocket Skates - Deftones Listen to sample

89No More Sorrow - Linkin Park Listen to sample

90My Suffering - Dead By Sunrise Listen to sample

91Mo 'N Herb's Vacation - Frank Zappa Listen to sample

92Captain - Dave Matthews Band
Even though it isn't metal, the odd timing with the jazziness and how fast it is for a ride cymbal is one thing, but the fact that its played so quietly makes playing fast on toms and the off splashes on the hi-hat even more difficult. And with almost randomly timed fills with no pick up its hard to get every beat in.


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93Space Boogie - Jeff Beck
Simon Phillips playing this track
Extremely fast tempo
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94Awake - Godsmack Listen to sample

95Black Metal ist Krieg - Nargaroth
I bet you can't play it.

966:00 - Dream Theater
Just an incredibly difficult and technical song! It has quite the hook also! Great opener for album!
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97777-9311 - The Time
I know it's a drum machine...but too funky to leave out
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98Everlong - Foo Fighters Listen to sample

99MVP - Despised Icon
Absolutely agree here mate.
Intense beyond belief. I am a drummer myself and cannot comprehend how in the world this beast of a drummer can play this.
Just put it on yt and try to play it for more than 5 seconds..
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100The Legend of the Rent - Here Comes the Kraken Listen to sample

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This list was created 4 years, 36 days ago and has been voted on over 1,000 times. This top ten list contains 135 items, has been remixed 5 times.

Updated Monday, September 22, 2014

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