Heavy metal drumsets are typically larger than those used in other rock genres. In the drum kit pictured, the drummer has three bass drums.
Heavy metal drumming is a style of rock musicdrum kit playing that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom and the United States. With roots in blues rock and psychedelic/acid rock drum playing, heavy metal drummers play with emphatic beats, and overall loudness using an aggressive performing style. Heavy metal (or "metal") drumming is traditionally characterized by emphatic rhythms and dense bass guitar-and-drum sound. The essence of metal drumming is creating a loud, constant beat for the band using the "trifecta of speed, power, and precision".
Metal drumming "requires an exceptional amount of endurance", and drummers have to develop "considerable speed, coordination, and dexterity ... to play the intricate patterns" used in metal. A characteristic metal drumming technique is the cymbal choke, which consists of striking a cymbal and then immediately silencing it by grabbing it with the other hand (or, in some cases, the same striking hand), producing a burst of sound. The metal drum setup is generally much larger than those employed in other forms of rock music. Black metal, death metal and some "mainstream metal" bands "all depend upon double-kicks and blast beats".
The rhythm in metal songs is emphatic, with deliberate stresses on beats by the drummer and other rhythm section players. Weinstein observes that the wide array of sonic effects available to metal drummers enables the "rhythmic pattern to take on a complexity within its elemental drive and insistency". In many heavy metal songs, the main groove is characterized by short, two-note or three-note rhythmic figures—generally made up of 8th or 16th notes.
Brief, abrupt, and detached rhythmic cells are joined into rhythmic phrases with a distinctive, often jerky texture. Heavy metal songs also use longer rhythmic figures such as whole note- or dotted quarter note-length chords in slow-tempo power ballads. The tempos in early heavy metal music tended to be "slow, even ponderous". By the late 1970s, however, metal bands were employing a wide variety of tempos. In the 2000s decade, metal tempos range from slow ballad tempos (quarter note = 60 beats per minute) to extremely fast blast beat tempos (quarter note = 350 beats per minute).