Anthrax’s Charlie Benante Shares 10 Examples of Kickass Drumming

Charlie Benante’s role in Anthrax goes way beyond drumming. For over 30 years, he’s had a hand in writing the group’s bone-rattling guitar riffs and designing its eye-catching album artwork. But don’t expect the multi-instrumentalist to abandon his drum kit in a live setting anytime soon. “I don’t like playing guitar in front of people,” he says. “I feel almost naked up there doing it, so I have to be pushed to do it. Whereas drumming is something where I feel in my element. Probably because I’m surrounded by things. But as far as guitar goes, I can play one in a room by myself for hours and hours and get lost in it.”

This comfort comes in part from years of admiring and emulating rock’s rich heritage of game-changing drummers, from Keith Moon to Neil Peart. It also doesn’t hurt that Benante’s drumming in Anthrax helped define the glory days of ‘80s thrash metal, and his work with S.O.D. set the template for extreme metal and hardcore blast beats.

The list reads like an autobiography of a man who has been drumming professionally since he was 16-years-old—following his life from his earliest memories as a fan to his favorite examples of blast beat driven rock he’s helped inspire.

The Beatles—“Can’t Buy Me Love” (1964 single)

When I was really young, I had four older sisters who would constantly be playing music throughout the house. I was absorbing all that stuff. And of course the Beatles was one that was played a lot, you know what I mean? So back then, that was my first experience with drumming. It was Ringo and his style. He had this cool swing to it. On a song like “Can’t Buy Me Love,” his beat would swing and he just looked so cool up there.

The Who—“Won’t Get Fooled Again” (Who’s Next, 1971)

Then the thing that got me was the Who and Keith Moon’s drumming. When I was younger, people would have parties outside and they’d always have a band playing and they’d bring me up. I’d always play a song that featured the drummer. I remember the Who being one of those bands that always featured the drummer. One of the greatest fills was on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” when Keith just comes in with those fucking toms. It was just killer.

Rush—“Tom Sawyer” (Moving Pictures, 1981)

Rush was a big one for me because the drummer was in the spotlight of that band. There were three guys in that band, but he was a main focal point as far as performing. A song like “Tom Sawyer” features the drummer, so of course I gravitated to that.

Iron Maiden—“Murder in the Rue Morgue” (Killers, 1981)

As far the whole thrash metal thing and creating it, we were listening to Motorhead and Iron Maiden and Venom. Those bands helped craft that thrash metal sound. We were so amazed by Iron Maiden. I think a lot of the bands in the thrash metal scene almost modeled their band after Iron Maiden. Especially on their second album Killers, there’s so many really great songs. There’s a song called “Murder in the Rue Morgue” and really the drummer drives that song.

Motorhead—“Overkill” (Overkill, 1979)

For Motorhead, the song that sticks out to me is “Overkill.” It was always one of my favorites. When they would play it live, he (the late Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor) would play this frantic double bass pattern. I remember when I first heard it, I was like “What the hell are you doing?” I couldn’t figure it out. He played double kick but played it in such a way that it sounded so punk rock and metal. I had to do that. I had to be a part of that.

S.O.D.—“Milk” (Speak English or Die, 1985)

Back in the day, around 1985, myself and Scott Ian from Anthrax did a side project called S.O.D. (Stormtroopers of Death). That album was called Speak English or Die. One song on there called “Milk” is the first time the blast beat is ever featured on record. Then years and years later, a lot of the black metal bands started to use that style in their music. They did it in a different way, of course, but the idea was still there.

Dimmu Borgir—“Kings of the Carnival Creation” (Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, 2001)

One of my favorites (that emulated S.O.D.’s blast beats) was this band called Dimmu Borgir from Norway. The one song that always stood out to me was called “Kings of the Carnival Creation.” That song is just killer. The drumming on that song is so awesome.

DRI—“Snap” (Dealing With It!, 1985)

I love (metal and hardcore crossover band) DRI, especially the album Dealing With It! I thought that was an awesome record. There’s so many standout tracks on that one, like the song called “Snap.”

Dave Matthews Band—“Drive In, Drive Out” (Crash, 1996)

A lot of people know I’m a huge Dave Matthews fan, and the drummer Carter (Beauford) in the band is always an inspiration. Especially his drumming on certain songs, like “Drive In, Drive Out.” It’s one of my favorite tracks of theirs, and Carter just kills it.

Deftones—“Digital Bath” (White Pony, 2000)

I love the Deftones and a song called “Digital Bath” that they have. Their drummer Abe lays down this funky groove over this atmospheric type of sound. It’s one of my favorite songs by them.

Expect Benante and Anthrax to inspire a new generation of heavy metal kids next Feb. 26 with the release of its 11th studio album, Evil Twin. The official lyric video for the title track captures classic thrash modernized via harsh criticisms of depressingly relevant sociopolitical issues.

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