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
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/
[Newest]I remember having to listen to this song 50 times over in order to even start to comprehend the time signature changes. I play by ear and don't look at sheet music to play drums... I may just need to look at a score for this however...

2A 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.
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!
[Newest]A prime example of what legitimate complex drumming is.

3Tom Sawyer - Rush
Not a drummer but I listen to a lot of varied music and Neil is amazing to watch and listen to.
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.
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!

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.
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.
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...
[Newest]How on earth anybody can play this song is beyond me. Gotta be one of the hardest songs to play on any instrument.

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.
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.
[Newest]The hardest song to play if you want perfection learn this beat. Neil Pert the best!

6The Violation - Fleshgod Apocalypse
The speed in this songs drumming must leave the drummer exhausted.. Its SUPER fast

7Hot 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!

8Lateralus - 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 musical pieces. That is god-like drumming ability. He doesn't pitter-patter on the drums, and he doesn't overpower. I've never seen another drummer come close to his abilities.

What some people fail to realize is while super-quick drumming is challenging, it's not nearly as challenging as building eargasmic rhythms and filling the space in a technically challenging song like Lateralus/Parabola/Rosetta Stoned and so many others.
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
[Newest]I agree with this one.

9Pull 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.


[Newest]Mike from dream theater is the best drummer ever.

10Beast 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.


This is Bat Country. Epic drumming. Missing you Rev, see you soon.

The Contenders

1121st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson

12Good 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!

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.

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.

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
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!.

16YYZ - Rush
Awesome with difficult time signature
Very good drum solo. he uses some toms that I have not heard before

17War 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
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!

18The Carbon Stampede - Cattle Decapitation

19Silent Flight Parlaiment - Between the Buried and Me

20The Betrayal - Fleshgod Apocalypse

21Beyond Bludgeoned - Brain Drill

22The Enemy Inside - Dream Theater

23Brianstorm - 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
Love playing this song but not too hard
Matt helder is sick

24Ingesting Blattaria - Blotted Science

25Almost Easy - Avenged Sevenfold
It's funny that this song would be titled as so; it's far from easy to play on drums.
Almost easy, when I listened to the song, It's the exact opposite of almost easy

26Your 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.

27Shall Rise Shall Be Dead - George Kollias

28Laser Cannon Deth Sentence - Dethklok

29The Glass Prison - Dream Theater

30Eeyore - Slipknot

31The Count of Tuscany - Dream Theater
Best song ever written. Cheers

32Karn Evil 9 - Emerson Lake & Palmer

33Psychosocial - 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...
Joey Jordison gets WAAY too much hate. Just because some people don't like Slipknot doesn't mean Joey is a bad drummer! Check out Disasterpiece, People = S#! T, Sulfur, Vendetta and Eyeless. All very good with fast double bass and tricky fills galore. As for Psychosocial, it's really not that hard. But still fun and great fills.

34CAFO - Animals As Leaders

35Blood and Thunder - Mastodon

36Llama - Phish

37Rush - The Spirit of Radio

38Fire - Jimi Hendrix
This song should have been ranked at least 25 - 30.

39Composure - August Burns Red
I feel like composure deserves to be way higher up on the list... Pretty challenging dudes
This is a hard song

40Blue Train - Asian Kung-Fu Generation

41The 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.

42Run to the Hills - Iron Maiden
Stamina is the key for this one! 16-notes throughout the entire song minus the intro! Tiring as riding a unicycle up Mount Everest!
This song is normal challenged, and it's really fun play, but not the hardest.

43Art of Life - X Japan
This song is just ridiculously long, not necessary the most technical difficult one but the length is just ridiculous.

44Wipeout - The Ventures
Can't agree on this one. It is difficult for the beginner, but once you have the opening down which just repeats itself, there is little left. Know how to play single stroke rolls with accents and you have it aced! Cheers
This is the hardest, but Hot For Teacher is a very close second.


45Victimized - 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

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!

47Painkiller - 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

48Altered From Catechization - Job for a Cowboy

49Adam's Song - Blink 182
Really? I'm 11 and I learnt to play this when I was 10. Maybe Feeling This by Blink.

50The 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

51Through the Fire and Flames - DragonForce
When its DragonForce, it involves Rapid Firing Double bass drums and very fast hands, it looks impossible (unless you are highly experienced drummer)
Guys just listen to this...
The drums in this... Oh my god, this has got to be the hardest song in the world on drums.

52Bloodlines - Dethklok

53Demigod - Behemoth

54You Suffer - Napalm Death

55Red Hot Chili Peppers - Brendan's Death Song

56Pull Harder On the Strings of Your Martyr - Trivium
Tricky foot work and beats, especially on the verse's and intro

57Scavenger of Human Sorrow - Death
Yes some of those other songs are hard but certainly not the hardest. Dyers eve is nowhere near the level of difficulty that literally any of death, behemoth, dream theater, or any jazz songs are at. It just sound really fast and that translates to difficulty in many peoples mind. Anyway I think that scavenger and to forgive is to suffer deserve more credit. This is just a popularity test and its not showing which songs are truly the most difficult.

58Symbolic - Death

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

60Stream of Consciousness - Dream Theater

61Everlong - Foo Fighters
I had no idea how difficult is this song until I tried to learn it.

62Led Zeppelin - Achilles Last Stand

63Pearl Jam - Jeremy

64Bonzo's Montreux - Led Zeppelin

65What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse - The Black Dahlia Murder

66Vicarious - Tool
Danny Carey makes it sound easy. He can just throw a drum fill wherever he wants and the song still sounds amazing. Plus, the triplets at the end are incredible.
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.

67AEnima - Tool
Those triplets is really hard in the middle o dis song

68Fury of the Storm

69Let There Be Rock (Live) - AC/DC
When they play it live, its about 13+ minutes and all your doing is going very very VERY fast pace on the hi hat


70The Legend of the Rent - Here Comes the Kraken
Whoever the drummer is for this band, if you did all this with just two pedals... That's amazing.

71Welcome to Paradise - Green Day
Not difficult, just fast paced. The only difficult part is when the ride cymbal comes in during the low-tom beat, I still don't know how they did that.
Well, I can play it really, really slow haha like someone else said it's not that tricky just fast. Like a lot of their songs

72The Black Page #2 - Frank Zappa
Just listen to it and be amazed. Should be much higher up
Very true. This Should be way higher
Astonishing comprehension of music by Frank!

73Blind - Korn

74Scatterbrain - 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

75Aristocrat's Symphony - Versailles

76Rat Salad - Black Sabbath

77If 6 Was 9 - Jimi Hendrix

78Don't Look Now, I'm Being Followed. Act Normal - Hands Like Houses

79My Suffering - Dead By Sunrise

80Captain - 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.


81Blinded 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!

82Xanadu - 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.

83The Art of Dying - Gojira
I was wondering when this would turn up on the list. I think the main time signature is something like 23/16. Yeah, good luck! Ha ha!
Trying to play along to the first pattern is insane. Interlude takes a lot of stamina also.

84Behold - Born of Osiris

85Mo ’N Herb’s Vacation - Frank Zappa

86Subdivisions - Rush

87Walk With Me In Hell - Lamb of God

88Caught In a Mosh - Anthrax
Drums are crazy later in the song. I played this on drums and my hands got sore!

89Emenius Sleepus - Green Day

90Panic Song - Green Day

91Platypus (I Hate You) - Green Day
I almost strained myself playing this

92War - Meshuggah
So, why is this not #1?
If you like broken limbs try playing this one...
... And this one if you never want to listen to music again...

93Triskelion Song

94Ignotus Per Ignotium - Planet X

95Murder - 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.

96Mastodon - Iron Tusk

97Spleen - Staind

98Rocket Skates - Deftones
Not really that difficult

99No More Sorrow - Linkin Park

100Mo 'N Herb's Vacation - Frank Zappa

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This list was created 4 years, 251 days ago and has been voted on over 1,000 times. This top ten list contains 169 items, has been remixed 6 times.

Updated Saturday, April 25, 2015

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