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Blasting Beyond Limits

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Mastering the Art of Heavy Metal Blast Beats
by Andrea Abbo
(April 2023)

Blast beats are a drumming technique synonymous with extreme metal music. These lightning-fast, rapid-fire rhythms create an intense, aggressive sound that perfectly matches the genre's energy and aggression.

Blast beats have become an essential part of the metal drummer's toolkit, and mastering this technique requires skill, precision, and dedication. Whether you're a seasoned metal drummer looking to perfect your blast beats or a beginner hoping to add this technique to your repertoire, understanding the nuances of this complex technique is essential to take your drumming skills to the next level.

Types of Blast Beats

In this guide, we will explore the various types of blast beats and provide insights into their unique characteristics, helping you take your drumming skills to the next level.


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Traditional/Euro Blastbeat


The traditional/Euro blast beat is one of the most common and widely used variations of blast beats in death metal music. This technique involves alternating between the bass and snare drum at a rapid-fire pace, typically with the bass drum on every quarter note and the drum on every second and fourth quarter note. The result is a relentless and powerful rhythm that can add driving energy to any metal song.

Traditional blast beats are often used in a wide range of metal genres, from death metal to black metal, and are a staple technique for many metal drummers. To master this technique, drummers must develop a strong sense of timing and control to keep the blast beat going at high speeds without losing precision or accuracy.

However, with practice and dedication, the traditional blastbeat can become a powerful tool for any metal drummer looking to create an intense and dynamic sound.

Hammer/Unison/Suffo Blast


The hammer/unison/suffo blast is another popular variation of blast beats in extreme metal music. This technique involves simultaneously hitting the bass and snare drum, creating a powerful and explosive sound that can add an extra layer of intensity to a song.

Musicians often use this blast beat to transition into a breakdown or emphasize a particular song section. The unison blast is similar to the hammer blast, but the bass drum and snare drum hit simultaneously on every beat, creating a relentless and driving rhythm.

The suffo blast is a more intricate variation of the hammer blast, with the snare drum hit simultaneously with the bass drum, followed by a quick burst of additional snare hits, creating a complex and intricate sound.

These variations of blast beats require precise timing and control to execute properly. They are a valuable tool for any metal drummer looking to add depth and complexity to their playing. With practice and dedication, the hammer/unison/suffo blast can become a powerful and dynamic part of a drummer's repertoire.

Bomb/Cannibal Blast


The cannibal or bomb blast is a highly explosive and intense variation of blast beats in extreme metal music. This technique simultaneously strikes the bass and snare drums on every beat, creating a relentless and thunderous rhythm that infuses energy into a song.

Musicians often use it to accentuate breakdowns and emphasize certain parts of a song. The cannibal blast is a more intricate variation that includes additional snare hits after the initial bass and snare hit, resulting in a dynamic and complex sound.

Proper execution of these blast beat variations demands strength, endurance, and precision, as they are physically demanding and require impeccable timing for a consistent rhythm. As a valuable technique for any metal drummer, the bomb/cannibal blast adds an intense and powerful layer to a song, elevating its excitement and energy.


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"Dirk" Blast


One of extreme metal drummer Dirk Verbeuren's signature grooves is a triplet-based blast, the only one of its kind mentioned in this article. It is an essential pattern to know and master if needed. The groove is based on the flam accent rudiment, and the notation is provided above the blast in case a refresher is necessary.

Push-Pull Blast


Drummers commonly use the "Push-Pull Blast" technique in extreme metal music. This technique uses the wrists to alternate between pushing and pulling the drumsticks, creating a fast and powerful blast beat. Drummers can execute the push-pull blast on the bass drum, snare drum, or both simultaneously, and they often use it to add driving energy to a song. This technique requires high skill and endurance to perform effectively, as it involves playing at fast tempos with precision and consistency. Many drummers practice the push-pull blast to improve their speed, control, and coordination, and it is an essential technique to master for anyone looking to play extreme metal music.

Heel-Toe Blasts


"Heel-Toe Blasts" are a drumming technique commonly used in extreme metal music to achieve fast and precise double bass drumming. This technique involves using the heel and toe of the foot to rapidly alternate between striking the bass drum pedal, creating a rapid-fire and powerful blast beat.

Heel-toe blasts require significant technical skill and practice to perform effectively, as the technique involves using two distinct motions in quick succession. With practice, drummers can develop the speed and control necessary to execute heel-toe blasts at high tempos and maintain a consistent rhythm. This technique is a staple of extreme metal drumming and is essential for achieving the fast, intense sound associated with the genre.

Swiveling Foot Bomb Blasts


In his DVD Intense Metal Drumming II, George Kollias showcases a swivelling foot motion to play faster tempos with less muscle strain. By swivelling his feet back and forth, he can vary the horizontal angle of his foot about the batter head, which reduces the amount of stress on his muscles.

Kollias also demonstrates a creative approach to playing blast beats in the DVD video. During his left-hand plays quarter notes on a second snare and upbeats on his hi hat, he improvises snare rhythms with his right hand, resulting in a dynamic and engaging sound.

Gravity/Freehand Blast


Gravity and Freehand Blast are different techniques used in drumming to play fast and powerful blast beats.

Gravity Blast is a technique where the drummer uses the force of gravity to generate power and speed in their playing. To perform a Gravity Blast, the drummer starts by raising their non-dominant hand in the air and then quickly dropping it onto the snare drum while simultaneously hitting the bass drum with their dominant foot or one foot. This technique creates a powerful and sustained sound well-suited for blast beats.

On the other hand, drummers use the Freehand Blast technique by using the fingers of their non-dominant hand to generate a whipping motion, which is then used to hit the snare drum.

To perform a Freehand Blast, the drummer starts by hitting the snare drum with their dominant hand and then uses their non-dominant hand to create a whipping motion that allows them to play very fast blast beats. This technique can create a more intricate and dynamic sound than the Gravity Blast but requires much skill and practice to master.


Blast beats are essential to many music styles, mainly metal, hardcore, and punk. These beats are characterized by their rapid-fire, high-energy nature and are used to create intense and powerful rhythms that drive the music forward.

Drummers have developed various techniques to play blast beats with greater speed and precision, such as Gravity Blast and Freehand Blast. With their ability to add depth, power, and excitement to a musical performance, blast beats have become an indispensable tool for drummers in a wide range of genres. They will continue to be a vital aspect of modern drumming for years to come.

Andrea Abbo is a music lover and an experienced drummer with more than 15 years of drumming with different bands and music projects, such as Seditius and Hermano & the Marines.

Check out his site at

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