Here are the 10 best doom metal drummers, ranked by Crypt Sermon's Enrique Sagarnaga.

When you play slow, everything is magnified and how you utilize all of that space requires tons of precision and creativity. And it doesn't hurt if you can swing a bit too to kick up those tempos once in a while. There's so much focus on extremity, especially today, that the art of crawling, forceful drumming tragically takes a back seat.

But with one of doom metal's most skilled drummers in the driver's seat, we're set for a course correction.

But first...

What You Need to Know About Crypt Sermon

From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

First Album: Out of the Garden (2015)

New Album: The Stygian Rose

For Fans Of: Candlemass, Dio-era Black Sabbath, Solitude Aeturnus, Magic Circle

Formed in 2013, Crypt Sermon quickly found their stride, releasing a demo that same year which featured one track that made its way onto their already classic debut. The doom metal underground asserted that Crypt Sermon were among the very best new entrants.

In 2019, they returned with The Ruins of Fading Light, an equally excellent display of mood-shifting dynamics, powerful soloing with occasional influences from outside traditional doom/heavy metal knocking at the door.

With The Stygian Rose, Crypt Sermon remain in the top form the arrived in, still gently nudging their sound in fresh directions. You'll hear dissonant black metal melodies fouling an atmosphere to convey even darker emotion, a perfect setup for epic moments that take you far, far away into another realm.

Take a listen to "Thunder (Perfect Mind)" below. You'll see (and hear).

Scroll further down to see Sagarnaga's ranking of doom's best drummers!

Crypt Sermon, "Thunder (Perfect Mind)"

Follow Crypt Sermon on Instagram, Facebook and Bandcamp.

Get your copy of The Stygian Rose, out June 13, at the Dark Descent webstore.

The 10 Best Doom Metal Drummers, Ranked by Crypt Sermon's Enrique Sagarnaga

Crypt Sermon drummer Enrique Sagarnaga playing on blue-lit stage
Hillarie Jason

Doom Metal is not-so-quietly a diverse genre.

From what we think of as "Trad Doom" (riff-first stylings of bands such as Candlemass) to the blood-soaked "Death-Doom" screeches and pounding rhythms of bands such as Temple Void and Hooded Menace, I find doom to be a unique space for drummers in general.

Here is a top 10 of my favorite doom drummers, across a wide-cast net for the genre.

Earnestly ranking anyone as the "best" in class is quite difficult if only because its just such a subjective thing to do. These choices are purely based on my personal tastes, as well as a collection of drummers that I believe sincerely brought something new and refreshing to the doom genre.

10. Brian Dixon (Cathedral)

Cathedral showcase some of the most interesting rhythm sections in the entire genre. The Carnival Bizarre in particular was one of the first records I ever heard that integrated doom with a stoner/psychedelic vibe. So much of this record feels relevant as ever.

From Dixon's swagger on "Palace of Fallen Majesty" where his beats just DRAAAAG against faster fills, to his modern swing beat dominating "Utopian Blaster", everything Cathedral does with percussion feels like it culminates on this record.

Tracks such as "Blue Light'' feature monstrous sounding toms, shimmery cymbals, delicate, almost jazzy light snares and even some bongo drums(!) Just absolute madness and innovation going on here.

9. Jason Pearce (Temple of Void)

Jason — what a lunatic. I remember first seeing Temple of Void at a local bar in West Philly where Crypt Sermon had the daunting task of sharing a bill with these guys.

ToV are already a fantastic band. Their take on death/doom is crushing and has some seriously powerful moments. Jason is his own island in that band. One of the best things I've ever heard about a drummer performing was said during his set: "He's hitting that thing like it owes him money!" It's true; I almost felt bad for his kit. No frills, just pure power. I'm pretty sure I witnessed this man snap a foot plate on his kick pedal.

Look, there's plenty of great doom metal drummers out there, and some that are clearly formative for the genre. However, in the spirit of appreciating new blood, I just want to highlight that Pearce's badassery and "holy shit" approach to his drumming style sets him aside from anyone else on this list and earns him a spot in my personal top 10.

8. Henry Vasquez (Saint Vitus, Lucifer, Spirit Caravan, and more )

I wish Henry Vasquez was recognized more for his work as a powerhouse drummer in the doom scene.

Although he was not the drummer on the records that your typical Saint Vitus fan might revere, Vasquez has such a hard-hitting sound and is a total madman live. His live presence is unmatched in sheer attitude alone.

Every band he's in is undeniably badass, and his work is incredibly dynamic throughout. The dude also uses some of the biggest sticks I've seen. I would know — he threw one at a crowd once; it hit me in the face (nice guy, though!)

7. Armando Acosta (Saint Vitus)

Acosta's drumming with Saint Vitus epitomized the slow, pounding rhythms of the genre. Listen to how blown out the drums are on Born Too Late.

His powerful, yet understated approach to the kit provided a solid foundation for the band. How the hell do you get drums to sound downright melancholic? Perhaps we'll never know. RIP.

6. Matthew Archer (Paradise Lost)

Paradise Lost are a wildly pioneering band and my formative one out of the "Peaceville Three."

I maintain that Gothic is essential listening. This was the first death/doom record I ever heard and the first doom album that I considered to have extreme drumming on it at the time. The double bass absolutely slams on this album — it's all there.

I think this record gets even more interesting when you consider that these rhythmic choices highlight what are otherwise very moving, "pretty" melodic moments throughout the record. What I appreciate most about Archer is that the drumming on Gothic is what keeps that record undeniably "metal" - it's so heavy handed sometimes. Great stuff.

5. Jeff Oly Olson (Trouble)

The drummer of Trouble's classic material, Olson was a driving musical voice for the band. I had the privilege of watching Olson perform with The Skull and Eric Wagner (RIP) once upon a time. When people think of doom, they might think "fuzzed out and slow," however Olson proves to be an exception to the rule.

Plainly put, the dude rips.

You can hear his tendencies to switch up tempos when the moment calls for it right at the onset of Trouble's "The Tempter" — slow, methodical rhythms give way to vocals that eerily proclaim:

"I am the tempter
Ruler of hell
Bringer of evil

On the drop of a dime, Oly switches things up and compliments the signature Trouble chug-riffs with a sharper, driving beat. If that isn't enough, the guy also ripped impressive drum solos live. Check this one out from '84. I wasn't even born yet; meanwhile, this guy was slamming monstrous vista-lites.

4. Mats Ekström (Candlemass)

My first Candlemass listing in this article.

Mats Ekström sat behind the kit for one of the most important debut LPs for the entire doom genre. The drums on Epicus Doomicus Metallicus are perfect — every moment is necessary and the production is exactly what it needs to be.

I love how boomy his kick drum sounds across the recording. His beats CRAWL throughout the record, letting every note breathe as it should. It feels like Mats tries to sneak in double-bass flurries here and there, and they feel earned; nothing about his performance feels forced or overplayed.

As a drummer, playing doom comes with the peril of feeling bored when you're forced to hang back for the sake of the song; however everything Ekström does on E.D.M. brings out the band's badassery and attitude.

3. John "Wolf" Covington (Solitude Aeturnus)

Another drummer that really keeps things moving, Covington's rhythmic choices on Into the Depths of Sorrow borderline on heavy metal/power metal (check out the solo section on "Opaque Divinity"). Elsewhere, his double-bass flurries on Beyond the Crimson Horizon turned some straightforward riffs on their head.

I wouldn't consider these records progressive, however some clever choices in the double bass department definitely brings entire songs to life with some elevated songwriting.

Covington also helped bring out how "tough" some of these riffs sound. Listen to how he comes out of the solo section at 4:20 (nice) on the track "Seeds of the Desolate".

On a YouTube upload of this track, there is a gentleman explaining how the band worked alongside their producer to trigger an Alesis D4 to replace the kick drums entirely. I'm not sure how true this is, but I have to say, I love how the drums sound on this record.

If there's one drummer that informs a significant part of how I play in Crypt Sermon, it's certainly Covington.

2. Jan Lindh (Candlemass)

I'll stop gushing over how badass this band is with this entry. Jan Lindh's performance on Nightfall also goes down as a perfect, precise execution of the genre on yet another cornerstone release.

We all love Candlemass, we love how crazy Messiah's voice is — we know how Dead (Mayhem) appears on the "Bewitched" video and how it was produced by Jonas Åkerlund, but can we talk about how strange this song is?

Don't believe me? Follow the crash cymbal and subsequent tom hits on the chorus. Follow the rhythm change after — super clever songwriting on full display. Highlighting single guitar chugs/notes like that isn't always easy and everything Lindh does here is absolutely crucial to how badass this whole record is.

1. Bill Ward (Black Sabbath)

I mean, who else could No. 1 be?

One of the most important drummers in one of the most important doom/heavy metal/rock bands of all time, Ward's drumming was originally captured in 1969 and still remains as vital and relevant to the genre as ever.

This is one of those moments where there is so much that can be said about Ward's performances across his discography that it's difficult to actually come up with something of substance. The self-titled album, Paranoid, Master of Reality, Vol. 4... I don't think any of us would necessarily be here, reading this article if it wasn't for these records.

The opening of the band's self-titled debut is still one of the most powerful moments in music I've ever heard. If you can, take a moment to really focus on the mood Ward creates with his distant, almost-in-the-night drums as the track progresses and builds. As soon as Ozzy belts out the iconic "OH NO!"

At the end of the opening verses, Ward absolutely rises from the depths and lays down some of the most stone-cold grooves you've ever heard. Imagine listening to this record for the very first time in the '70s. Every drumming choice here is alien at the time — the beats, the fills, the size of his drum kit... everything.

Ward's contributions to Sabbath were the apex of creativity. You can argue that bands such as Blue Cheer came before Sabbath and set the tone for what aggressive, out of the box rock drumming could do, but Ward is in his own league, epitomizing what "doom" really means. Every moment on the Black Sabbath debut creeps and crawls before it explodes. Ward's recordings showcase dynamic volume control in drumming to the fullest — crescendoing when the music calls for it unlike anything at the time.

I also want to point out that Ward's stories about being on the road with Sabbath reveal his abilities to play under the influence of well, everything. I can't even get a song right after a few beers.

Honorable Mention:

John Douglas. Anathema's The Silent Enigma is essential listening.

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Gallery Credit: Joe DiVita

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