Top 10 Hardest Songs to Play on Drums

Any songs you just can't play on drums? Check and see if they are on the list and add them if they aren't.
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.

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...

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've seen a lot of transcriptions and video tutorials on how to play certain songs on drums. No other song comes even CLOSE to how insane this song is to play, whether it be drums, keyboards, bass, or guitar. The song is a gem and can be only played by the best at their craft.

2 Bleed - Meshuggah

lol the guy that said that its just physically demanding, that's the easiest part of the song. I can play this and I can tell you that the most difficult part is playing a 25/8 while the singer is singing in 4/4, and getting the hertas in the right places is very difficult. It took me about 2 months to learn bleed. I am currently learning clockworks and with 4 days of practice I am already halfway there

My top 10 (with short explanations)

1. Bleed - Meshuggah (this song has the hardest polyrhythms out there and takes insane endurance to get through this 7 minutes of hell. Although, there is like a 45 second break at around 5 minutes or so but that's all you get before going into more hell).

2. Dance of Eternity - Dream Theater (This song has incredibly baffling time signatures that change every bar and has some of the most difficult transitions out there. This is Bleed's closest competitor by far).

3. La Villa Strangiato - Rush (Try playing insanely fast '16th notes' on the hi hat, intricate hi hat 'chokes', and fast tom roles for nine minutes consistently and you will understand the difficulty of this song).

4. Moby Dick by Led Zeppelin (This song is by far the greatest drum track of all time. That title is not there for no reason, it features difficult polyrhythms at high tempos, odd time signatures, kick ass triplets which are also insanely fast, and is ...more

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.

WHAT? How the heck is this not on the top? The kick is way to fast for any human to play this! If anyone out there is able to play this, My respect for you is over 9000. Its fast, which I can't play, but, even if you master that, it changes! This should be top, easily. The only real reason DOE is on top is because more people know about it, and the time signatures change a lot with measures like 7/16 and 11/4. But, at least for that, you can practice. THIS IS INHUMAN! DOE is challenging, but I can already play. Notice the comments for DOE are it took me so long to master this, while Bleed voters say that they are not even getting close.

3 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 HAD to be a Led Zeppelin song in the top 3 or this wouldn't be a list. John Bonham was the greatest drummer of his time and changed rock n' roll drumming forever. This songs drumming though, oh my god

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!

4 Hot for Teacher - Van Halen

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.

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.

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

I'm not sure if this song is actually hard to play with drums, but this song sounds hard to play to me.

5 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.

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.

What a magnificent song. The switches between feels, the odd time sense and it is long and difficult. Not as bad as Dance of Eternity, but very challenging. I am surprised it is below Moby Dick. Moby took me about 10 hours to learn, La Villa took about 50 hours to learn. Great song. You can play this, there is little that will challenge you.. except songs like 777-9311! Cheers

I've been trying to learn this song for over a month and I'm only three minutes in. The additional accents on the high hat while playing in 7/4 time (although a lot of sheet music and tabs say the entire song is in 4/4) make the precision factor a seemingly impossible feat. Dare I even mention the wide variety of mix matched drum fills when replaying the opening theme at the end of the song. deadly

6 Lateralus - 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!

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

It man not seem as hard to play as songs like The Dance of Eternity and heavy technical stuff, but this involves some very exact and polyrhythmic beats that take a lot of time to even realize what he's doing. Then it takes even more time to learn it and master it. This is not even Tool's hardest song to play though, I'd say Third Eye is even harder. Precise like it's jazz, groovy like it's funk, powerful like it's metal, musical like it's classical music. Danny Carey

The majority of the song is constantly shifting between 9/8 7/8 and 8/8 which is hard enough to get a grip on when learning this song. Like most tool songs however, the driving force of the song doesn't repeat itself but rather replicates itself with subtle differences. For example when analyzing the first time the chorus plays through compared to the second time it plays you will notice certain accents are in different places. There are other tool sons that are harder to play like rosetta stoned and practically the entire new album but lateralus alone stands superior to the other songs on this list due to sheer technique and finesse. don't just take my word for it though, please go listen to or read some of tool's music. Regaurdless of whether you like it or not there's no denying that Danny Carey is an absolute master of his craft.

7 Ticks and Leeches - Tool

I have had a great time for time learning pretty much all of dream theater's songs including the whole scenes from a memory part 2 album as well as part 1: miracle and the sleeper. The enemy inside was another fun one but now I have run out of songs from dream theater. Thank god tool was a created. Danny Carey is amazing and I have learned schism, and ticks and leeches already. I'm excited to see what's next. Also rip Neil Peart. Another drummer I learned from.

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

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 couldn't be the tool we know.

8 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.

If you listen to dying fetus and behemoth you'll find this song is faster than pretty much every single one of their songs. Only Kollias has a chance against Paoli's constant blast beat at nearly 300 bpm.

Extremely fast double bass drumming. This song's a legs killer! If you don't believe it, just give it a listen.

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

9 21st 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.

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.

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!

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!

Allright, I think we all need to know that bonzo used ONE kick on this song. pull off those triplet bass drums is near impossble with 2, so how would you do this on 1? I would like to see anyone pull off any of the songs above this with one kick, you probably can't. bonzo is the best drummer ever, created a million heavy hitting, loud bass drum clones, and this is some of his finest work.

The Contenders
11 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

After about two minutes of playing the song, your legs start to die. While beast and the harlot are harder songs to play, they produced even harder songs like Nightmare, Save me (multiple time signatures going at once), A little piece of heaven (kick beat changes constantly), blinded in chains (192 bpm while having the kick changing beats).

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.

This should be higher in my opinion. The Rev is one of the best drummers I've had the pleasure to meet. His work needs to be respected. Even though many including myself can play this song, NO ONE can play it like the Rev

12 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 am a drummer myself, and this is a great song to play on drums, and a halarious video at that. The greatest, and hardest part of this song is the intro. It's double bass and complicated beats are amazing.

Its hard to play, but not nearly as hard as Beast and the Harlot. I've played both. ALPOH is somewhat challenging, but BATH is about 6 times as hard. It is like a whole new dimension of difficulty.

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

13 Kascade - Animals As Leaders

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

Lippincott or The Women Web seems harder than Kascade. In my humble opinion of course.

Animals as Leaders are stupid posers.

Just look at the transcription, damn.

14 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.

My dad is a drummer and I had him listen the songs (Pull me Under and YYZ) consecutively and he laughed at Pull me under then asked why all of the Led Zeppelin were down so far.

Way ahead of time!... Incredible. You can put that solo against any other today. It created a new type of drummers! May not be the toughest just too relevant.

15 Through the Fire and Flames - DragonForce

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.

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.

There's harder dragonforce songs, soldiers of the wasteland is longer and three hammers is more technical than this song.

The drums in this... Oh my god, this has got to be the hardest song in the world on drums.

16 Endeavor - T.R.A.M.
17 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.

Blink 182 harder than DragonForce?

Travis Barker is overrated.

18 Inamorata - Animals as Leaders

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

19 Cafo - Animals as Leaders

Although a lot of these songs are known for their speed, technicality and odd time signatures, it doesn't compare to this song, which combines this, and extreme alternating polyrhythms, with odd timing on every single drum played at one point. By far the most challenging AAL song to play on any instrument.

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.

20 The Enemy Inside - Dream Theater

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).

21 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.

I was going to put Mammals in Babylon on here! One of my favorite death metal bands, and Dave McGraw is one of the best current drummers out there!

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

22 The Betrayal - Fleshgod Apocalypse

One of my favorite songs... a little plain at beginning, but at the 3 minute, its just hell! very powerful!

23 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?

24 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.

This sounds almost like George Kollias of Nile which is a huge compliment.

25 YYZ - Rush

From the indisputable #1 drummer of all time, the Professor Neil Peart excels here with the range of drumming elements lifting the difficulty beyond just speedwork as exhibited by some song higher on the list.

While this is definitely not their most difficult song (go listen to La Villa Strangiato, which is higher on the list), it's certainly harder than Tom Sawyer—I learned that in a month, after playing drums for only a year.

Definitely takes the cake for hardest rush song. They straight up play the songs title in Morse Code as a beat.

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

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