Hardest Songs to Play On Drums


The Top Ten

1 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 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 disagree with this song being the hardest song to drum to out there. I mean ok, I get the technical aspect behind it where they are changing time signatures over 100 times during the song, but for example I believe 'Panic Attack,' is a harder song than 'The Dance of Eternity.' So I don't sound like I'm talking out my ass here is a video of me drumming to 'The Dance of Eternity.' Levels of difficulties are just opinions in my book.


Let's break it down. 130 time signature changes in 6 minutes. Try that for size. - naFrovivuS

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2 Bleed - 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 needs to be #1. Only reason dream theater is above it is that more people are familiar with their music. Their fans think it has to be the hardest thing out there because they do odd signatures like 7/16 and 11/4 time sometimes, meanwhile Tom Haake is playing both of those at the same time along with a 25/8 for good measure. Notice that comments on Dance are along the lines of "it took me so long to learn this! " while comments on Bleed go "is this even possible to play? "

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.

For playing this song you have to be a ridiculous gifted drummer, and a cyborg!

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3 Tom Sawyer - Rush

As a drummer, I can say that of all the Rush songs, this is the least difficult song in terms of the fancy fills and drum knowledge required to play (but there still is a ton of this in the song). It's more of a test of endurance. You have to play fairly fast 16th notes with one arm, or else the song doesn't really work. It is simple at first, but once you're about 1/4 through the song, the fills kick in, and then your arms really start to get strained. It took me a while as a young drummer to really master this song, and to this day it remains one of the most difficult songs to play in my repertoire of songs.

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.

This song is a beauty eh!

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4 Hot 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

Note to the people saying it's average. Note it has an incredibly fast double bass part that will drain the blood out of your legs the entire way through. - naFrovivuS

Good choice. Not only is it the hardest Van Halen song to play, it's one of the hardest songs in the world.

Not hard at all. All u need is double bass and your good to go. I’m not a drummer and I was able to play this

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5 Beast and the Harlot - Avenged Sevenfold

Oh geez. I've been playing metal drums for roughly 2 and a half years, and this is just one of those songs, where the first time I heard it, it was so catchy I said "man, this song is probably insanely difficult to play", and yes, yes it is. I mean, double kick drums at 155 BPM sporadically throughout 5 and a half minutes, crazy fast drum solo, a tricky hand/foot pattern at the chorus to master, it's got everything a standard metal sing should have, but raises the bar. It's one of those things where it is easy to learn, hard to master. In fact, I still am trying to get it down, but take note: this song takes some serious stamina. But fun as hell, and that's what matters

I love the song and while it is technical, the most challenging part is the double bass and the solo is merely diddles at high heights. I doubt many people actually watch how it's done because it's not too difficult.

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.

I'm pretty sure you don't know what you're talking about when you say A Little Piece of Heaven is harder than this. I don't care whether or not this belongs in the top ten but there is no way A Little Piece of Heaven is harder. No way. - Haqulea

I never thought it was that hard. - AdamDestructorJr.

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6 A 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!

This song is so easy, I can play the whole thing by heart. There's at least 20 to 30 songs I can think of that are much harder than this song

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7 Moby Dick - Led Zeppelin

Now when I'm talking about Moby Dick here, I'm talking about the live version of it (Live at Royal Albert Hall, 1970). In that case, the song needs to be number one, the hard time signatures, the insanely fast triplets, the bongo style playing (with your hands), all of these factors make the song difficult as hell to play. Now, when it comes to the studio version of it, it deserves to be around number 6 or so.

There are a lot of songs harder than this one, but it should be way higher on this list.

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

Try playing for like 40 min straight live. - SoldierOfFortune

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8 Lateralus - 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

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

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!

Other said it well, tool discography is MUST LISTEN to, if you are a drummer or if just like good, unpredictable music... Still unmatched to this day... Tick and leeches is not the best drum song from Carey, its Lateralus, Rosetta stoned, and almost every other... Ticks is in the bottom bracket once youve heard everything

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9 La 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.

I don't know why this isn't number one, possibly because not many people listened to Rush, but if you show someone this song and ask them to listen to the drums, they wouldn't believe you when you say one guy is doing this, this song is so demanding, the stamina that it takes to play this song is insane, by the time you finish the opening you can already feel it in your arms, how Peart does this is beyond me, especially doing it at the age of 50

I'm not sure an android could drum this on it's first try.

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10 Good 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



I'm 15 and I have been playing drums for almost 5 years now, I've been taking lessons for that time too and still am. I know that's not a very long time, but I have wanted to learn this song ever since I started playing drums. Every year my drum teacher has a recital sometime in the summer, and am definitely going to ask him if I can learn this song when that time comes.

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!

Try to play it they way Bonzo actually did and you might change your mind. This should be higher on the list... MUCH higher!

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The Contenders

11 The 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?

This should be higher. - Metal_Treasure

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12 Ticks 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

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.

I'm learning this song right now and its hard as hell! Props to Danny!

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13 21st 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!

From the list they have this is probably the best. A lot on this list are easy, some are actually a joke. They do not even list Cream with Baker, the list is really a joke to pro drummers.

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

Inconcievably difficult when done right. Combines all the hardest parts of jazz and rock drumming and turns the speed up to 100! If you want to impress someone on the drums, learn this!

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14 YYZ - Rush

Awesome with difficult time signature

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

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

No way a normal human can do this in 5 years of practice

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15 Dyers 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!

The rhythm parts and the solo are just outstanding, but the drum track is hard too, Lars used a lot of double bass through the song. - Wolf92xd

Rhythm and game rule changer song from the 80�'s...

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16 Kascade - Animals As Leaders

One of the hardest ones I've tried!

Top 10 material

Animals as Leaders are stupid posers.

I’m sorry to be so narrow minded, but nothing even comes close to the difficulty of just about every Animals as Leaders songs. - xEJD-

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17 Pull 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...

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

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.

DT has harder than Pull Me Under on Images and Words alone. Metropolis Part. 1 for example. - AdamDestructorJr.

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18 Adam's Song - Blink 182

This is nothing compared to stuff even Lars Ulrich can do. Even Lars doesn't belong on songs that are hardest to play on drums. Travis Barker is overrated. I have a feeling people are just voting their favorite bands, and the drummer happened to be a part of it, so they assume the drummer makes songs difficult to play on drums. Travis barker doesn't belong on this list

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

This isn't really top 20 material, maybe top 30, because I learned this song in 20 minutes

Not top 20 material

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19 Endeavor - T.R.A.M.
20 War 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

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!

21 Inamorata - Animals as Leaders

One does not simply think that other songs can be as difficult as this.

22 The Enemy Inside - Dream Theater

Tool and dream theater should be all over this countdown

Lol what is wrong with people a Blink 182 song in front of a Dream Theater song. Also who the hell said Lars Ulrich can actually play drums, (Metallica fanboys).

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23 Cafo - Animals as Leaders

I don't know about the other drums but I try to play the intro with double stroke rolls on the left hand, makes it nearly impossible to do it very clean. Rest of the song might not be as funky with timing as 'tempting time' in my opinion, but still really challenging.

Difficult combination between double bass en the changing time signatures. Also you will need some great stamina to play the whole song. I learned the song in 6 weeks but have had problems with being too tired to finish it. technically I have mastered it though

Alternating poly-rhythms and irregular time signatures. Even counting when the snare hits are is a challenge.

24 The Carbon Stampede - Cattle Decapitation

I don't know why people call this "noise", I could just as easily call the music that's very popular now noise, but that's just opinion, this song requires more musical skill than 100% of songs now days.

This song sounds terrible its just noise and screaming. whoever thinks this is good music, then you need your ears checked!

Whoever thinks this is good music has a different opinion than you. - Fiend

Dis amazing

25 The Betrayal - Fleshgod Apocalypse
26 Silent Flight Parliament - Between the Buried and Me

Uhh, this should be in the top 5 if not the top spot. And for that matter where is Melting City?

27 Beyond Bludgeoned - Brain Drill

How can the drummer do this? This song must leave the drummers hands broken! This should be at least in the top 3! This is way harder than Dance of Eternity.

28 Almost 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

29 Painkiller - 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

This in my opinion should be higher up on the list but it's not the hardest song on drums.

Should be higher up just because of the beginning drum solo

30 Your Treachery Will Die with You - Dying Fetus

Damn this is the hardest song I have ever heard

I've tried this song muulitple times, and jesus is it hard, It is defaintly one of the hardest.

31 Ingesting Blattaria - Blotted Science
32 The Glass Prison - Dream Theater
33 Laser Cannon Deth Sentence - Dethklok
34 Eeyore - Slipknot

Very hard song to play that's for sure. Can not possibly do that drum solo because I only play single pedal and that's not actually humanly possible. Should definitely be higher.

35 Shall Rise Shall Be Dead - George Kollias

This should be in top 10. No one can cover this song the way George Kolias has played this song.

Why is Blink 182 and A7X over this, DT and Tool? What is wrong with people. Ad much as I respect and like those bands, George Kollias, Portnoy and Danny Carey are gods if not less. Start voting sensibly.

36 Bat Country - Avenged Sevenfold

In my opinion, this isn't Avenged Sevenfold's most difficult song; Burn it Down is much more difficult. This song is really difficult to perfect though.


This really is a hard song to drum, a couple of rhythms and beastly fills.

R.I.P. Jimmy.

37 Brianstorm - 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

What? It's two minutes long - Songsta41

Please look at these drums JESSUUs

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38 The Count of Tuscany - Dream Theater

Incredible. Dream Theater and Rush should be filling it up. Dance Of Eternity, La Villa Strangiato, The Count Of Tuscany, Tom Sawyer, the Glass Prison, YYZ and especially Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence. - Beatlesboy9

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39 Through 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)

The thing about this song isn't that it's technically hard, it's just blast beats, but those blasts are at 300 bpm so it's very tiring and it requires an inhuman amount of stamina. I know that I wouldn't be able to go through the whole song. - kk2001

Guys just listen to this...

Has anyone even heard this song? This deserves to be WAY higher on the list. The tempo marking is so high and the double bass grooves are extremely intensive. I don't see how even things like Moby Dick could beat it honestly.

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40 Karn Evil 9 - Emerson Lake & Palmer

This song should be #1. - UncommonLoon

41 Llama - Phish

This is definitely one of the most challenging songs I have come across. I'm not really a fast drummer (at least not as fast as most rock drummers) and it's the same beat the whole time. The fast bass pattern in it definitely kicks my ass. It's still pretty fun to jam to though.

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42 Fire - Jimi Hendrix

This song should have been ranked at least 25 - 30.

Yep. This list is retarded

43 The Spirit of Radio - Rush

Neil really starts kicking it at the 40s mark. His bell cymbal technique rocks - his fills just as impressive.

That intro...wow. When you thought you heard everything...Neil comes along. Powerful, transcendental and innovative

44 Disasterpiece - Slipknot

I don't know how they can play their songs. I don't play drums but I play guitar and the power they put in their songs is unbelievable. After playing only four of their songs I feel my fingers burning and red.

45 The 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.

46 Art of Life - X Japan

This song is just ridiculously long, not necessary the most technical difficult one but the length is just ridiculous.

47 Psychosocial - 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.

Slipknot has harder songs, like disasterpiece, people = s***, and eyeless, but still, this has amazing fills and has a fun intensity to it, joey jordison is an amazing drummer

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48 Blue Train - Asian Kung-Fu Generation
49 My Hero - Foo Fighters

This is not hard

50 Blood and Thunder - Mastodon
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List Stats

3,000 votes
225 listings
7 years, 213 days old

Top Remixes (10)

1. Kascade - Animals As Leaders
2. Endeavor - T.R.A.M.
3. Inamorata - Animals as Leaders
1. The Violation - Fleshgod Apocalypse
2. The Carbon Stampede - Cattle Decapitation
3. Beyond Bludgeoned - Brain Drill
1. Dance of Eternity - Dream Theater
2. A Little Piece of Heaven - Avenged Sevenfold
3. La Villa Strangiato - Rush

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