From the February 2017 issue of DRUM! | By Andy Ziker
Lars Ulrich’s style is instantly recognizable, which few musicians are able to accomplish. His composing/arranging prowess, pinpoint accuracy, and knack for melding drum parts perfectly with other instruments are critical to the Metallica sound. The following four songs from Hardwired … To Self-Destruct are full of Lars-isms, providing just the right degree of energy, power, and intrigue, while faithfully playing to the song.
Twelve measures of a two sixteenth/one eighth snare gallop act like an up-tempo call to arms. Tension builds as a simple guitar melody is added, which Ulrich joins with crash hits on 2 (&), 3, 4 (&), and 1, while continuing the march. Listen to the attack-laden bass drum click sound popularized by Ulrich.
The verse/prechorus of “Atlas, Rise” is through-composed (i.e.: sections are interwoven). This is precipitated by three crash hits starting on beat 3 in measure four. The location of the downbeat becomes convoluted, and we perceive the beat to be turned around. This is reinforced by a prechorus vocal melody arriving right after beat 2 in measure five. Ulrich walks the line between half-time and regular time, and this rub is not fully resolved until a one-measure snare fill propels us into the chorus.
“NOW THAT WE’RE DEAD”
Ulrich provides a number of golden nuggets leading to the end of this seven-minute behemoth: a two-measure fill that emphasizes 1 and 3; Ulrich’s version of the “money beat” (bass drum on 1 and 3, snare on 2 and 4) with extremely sloshy hi-hats accented on each beat; and one-measure-long snare fills (sixteenths or broken sixteenths) that add a fifth measure to the more common four-bar phrase.
“MOTH INTO FLAME”
Ulrich shows restraint by shining a light on a syncopated rhythm guitar riff. Instead of matching the guitar, he focuses on making the groove gel by playing a relatively simple pattern.