Who pounded the skins best in 2014? Here's your chance to pick for yourselves in the 4th Annual Loudwire Music Awards.

A band's drummer acts as an anchor. Especially with hard rock and metal, the right type of atmosphere is impossible to create without the right person behind the kit. These musicians specialize in groove, driving beats, blasting and experimental percussion -- and they all do their jobs extremely well. Vote for the Best Drummer of 2014 in the poll at the bottom of this post.

  • Roadrunner

    Martin 'Axe' Axenrot


    Martin 'Axe' Axenrot is one of metal's most diverse drummers -- and you have to be when manning the kit for Opeth. No matter what feeling the band strives to create, Axe is able to make it work through years of experience and compositional mastery.

  • Prosthetic

    Fotis Benardo


    Septicflesh drummer Fotis Benardo unfortunately parted ways with the band in late 2014, but the masterful percussionist gave us amazing performances throughout 'Titan.' When you've got the Prague Philharmonic taking up so much sonic space, you've got to bring world class technique to stand out, and that's exactly what Fotis accomplished.

  • Ethan Miller, Getty Images
    Ethan Miller, Getty Images

    Brann Dailor


    Brann Dailor's reputation is as one of metal's most imaginative drummers. With 'Once More 'Round the Sun,' Dailor kept his creative momentum going, mixing his tremendous technicality with the rambunctiousness of a kid bashing pots and pans. Dailor also gave us some of his all-time greatest vocals on Mastodon's 2014 album.

  • Mike Lawrie, Getty Images
    Mike Lawrie, Getty Images

    Taylor Hawkins

    Foo Fighters

    Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins left his signature mark once again on the band's eighth studio album, 'Sonic Highways.' The flavor of eight separate cities gave Hawkins an amalgam of influences to inspire him, and it shows in the diverse rock record.

  • Republic Records / AMC
    Republic Records / AMC

    Shannon Larkin


    Godsmack's '1000hp' album is very driven by drums. And thanks to drummer Shannon Larkin, the record speeds forward with percussive power on songs like the title track, 'Locked & Loaded' and 'Generation Day.' Larkin also had a hand in co-writing lyrics with frontman Sully Erna.

  • Ethan Miller, Getty Images
    Ethan Miller, Getty Images

    Sam Loeffler


    Sam Loeffler has put two decades of work into Chevelle, drumming on yet another quality album, 'La Gargola.' The 2014 disc kept Chevelle's hot streak going, with Sam's percussion providing progressive and intricate beats within radio-friendly hits.

  • Roadrunner

    Masked Drummer


    The metal world has pretty much figured out the identity of Slipknot's new drummer, but let's keep what little mystique there is going. The masked replacement for Joey Jordison met and exceeded expectations on '.5: The Gray Chapter,' offering imaginative and mechanical lines to propel Slipknot's 2014 epiphany.

  • Donald Bowers, Getty Images
    Donald Bowers, Getty Images

    Vinnie Paul


    Few drummers are more beloved than Hellyeah's Vinnie Paul. Formerly of Pantera and Damageplan, Paul helped deliver perhaps Hellyeah's best album to date with 'Blood for Blood' in 2014, as the stickman once again showed off the magic behind the kit that made him a legendary member of Pantera.

  • Metal Archives
    Metal Archives

    Zbigniew Robert 'Inferno' Prominski


    Behemoth's 'The Satanist' is blast beat heaven, but drummer Inferno gives a unique performance throughout the 2014 masterpiece. Just listen to the percussion at the tail end of 'Amen,' the slow build of 'Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel' and the awe-inspiring fills that pepper the entire 'Satanist' album.

  • Photo by Horst Friedrichs
    Photo by Horst Friedrichs

    Ben Thatcher

    Royal Blood

    Ben Thatcher makes up one half of Royal Blood, who took the rock world by storm in 2014. Thanks in part to Thatcher's drumming, the duo's self-titled debut album hit No. 1 on the U.K. album chart, while singles 'Out of the Black' and 'Figure It Out' made a big mark in the States.