Lars Ulrich has long been criticized for his skills behind the kit, but Gojira stickman Mario Duplantier holds the Metallica drummer in high regard. In fact, Duplantier calls the metal legend a “genius” and the “best showman drummer in the world.”
The quotes come from the Gojira musician’s list of the 10 drummers that changed his life via Metal Hammer. Duplantier is known for his dynamic style, which ranges from technical blasting rhythms to a more swinging, groove-oriented approach. He’s also a visually stunning performer, and it was Ulrich that first taught him the importance of stage presence and pushed Duplantier to get behind the kit.
“Lars Ulrich was probably the first drummer that really made me pay attention,” said Duplantier. “I was maybe 10 or 11 years old and my brother had received the Metallica Live Shit: Binge & Purge video boxset for Christmas. We were sat watching it and I couldn’t take my eyes off of Lars; the way he was playing, the color of the drum heads, the movement… it was all so badass. Right away I was telling my brother, ‘That drummer is the best in the world!’ That was when I decided I wanted to play drums.”
While Ulrich drums for the most successful metal band of all time, he never ranks as high as fellow thrash veterans like Dave Lombardo (Slayer) and Charlie Benante (Anthrax) when it comes to most “best drummer” lists. The hollow snare sound on Metallica’s St. Anger, in particular, reached meme levels of infamy and has been an albatross of sorts. But Duplantier stands by the thrash pioneer’s recorded output and unquestionable presence in Metallica.
“Lars is a genius; if you listen to the first five Metallica albums, the drumming is so special, particularly the way he writes those patterns,” Duplantier continued. “Even now I think he’s the best showman drummer in the world. Its not about the tempo or technicality — it’s something else. Nobody could imagine Metallica with another drummer.”
The rest of Duplantier’s list is a who’s-who of metal’s greatest skin pounders: Igor Cavalera (Sepultura), Sean Reinert (Death/Cynic), Gene Hoglan (Death), David Silveria (Korn), Abe Cunningham (Deftones), Pete Sandoval (Morbid Angel), Kenneth Schalk (Candiria), Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine), and Vinnie Paul (Pantera).
“There are so many great drummers out there that it keeps you humble,” Duplantier said. “I know I have my qualities and things that I’m good at, but the work is never done: If you stop working on your drumming for six months, you’ll lose a lot. It’s a real discipline, and I’m not done.”
Gojira recently released their highly anticipated seventh studio album, Fortitude. The band is set to support the LP on a North American summer tour with Deftones, as well as a fall US headlining trek and numerous festival appearances.