Top 20 Drum Albums Of The Last 20 Years


Here are the best drum albums of the last 20 years.

Top 20 Drum Albums Of The Last 20 Years


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John Stanier’s right foot sticks out on this quantum-leap outing. He’s now in hipster darlings Battles but he’ll never be as kick-tastic as he was the year punk broke.

Key Tracks: “I Know,” “Wilma’s Rainbow”

best drum albums helmet evil empire

Evil Empire
Rage Against The Machine

On Evil Empire, Brad Wilk’s boom-bap blossomed into pocket that wasn’t obvious. The single-stroke interstitials on “Bulls On Parade” are perfect synergies of groove and musicality.

Key Tracks: “Vietnow,” “Year Of The Boomerang”

best drum albums helmet percent density

300 Percent Density

Kenny Schalk flipped the script on the jazz-metaller’s fourth disc. The Tony Williams influence is there but it’s massive groove and disguised trickiness that land 300 on this list.

Key Tracks: “Without Water,” “300 Percent Density”

miss machine

Miss Machine
Dillinger Escape Plan

Chris Pennie’s speed and precision had drummers gasping for a while, but on their second record he was more dynamic than bludgeoning so those polyrhythms really popped.

Key Tracks: “Phone Home,” “We Are The Storm”



Meshuggah’s ’90s albums had 11/8 and other ridiculous times butObZen saw Thomas Haake push an advanced math + busy + power formula. He improves with age.

Key Tracks: “ObZen,” “Bleed”


master of percussion

Masters Of Percussion
Masters Of Percussion

The name says it all. A frighteningly talented all-star outing headed by top tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. Add in Narada Michael Walden on drums and Giovanni Hidalgo on congas and it’s pure rhythmic bliss.

Key Tracks: Any – it’s called “Masters Of Percussion” for a reason.



While Danny Carey’s performance on “Eulogy” alone spawned a legion of YouTube covers, Ænimaserves as one long showcase for the polyrhythmic, tribal freakiosity that has kept drummers in a state of constant slack-jawed awe since.

Key Tracks: “Eulogy,” “Forty Six & 2”


Medeski Martin & Wood

Not even the avant-stylings of DJ Logic on three tracks could distrupt the organic chemistry of the single biological entity that is MMW. Billy Martin’s cerebral, lo-fi groove moves anything with a pulse.

Key Tracks: “Sugar Craft” “Latin Shuffle”

play the motet

The Motet

This tasty exploration of world-beat-funk fusion is marked by all-band percussion solos and the super-slick dynamics of drummer Dave Watts and percussionist Scott Messersmith. A greazy funk feast for shameless groove gluttons.

Key Tracks: “The Lesson,”
“Guinée Kan”


Emphasis! (On Parenthesis)
Stanton Moore Trio

Stanton Moore is at his best when the brakes come off. Coaxed into rhythmic fury, he and his cohorts spin out some of the most dazzling high-wire instrumental interplay New Orleans has to offer (and that’s saying something).

Key Tracks: “(Late Night At The) Maple Leaf,” “Thanks! (Again)”


red hot chilli peppers

Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Red Hot Chili Peppers

Chad Smith ushered in a fresh style that inspired generations of drummers to play heavy rock beats under thrashing funk guitar and bass lines. The Peppers moved on; many Smith wannabes never did.

Key Tracks: “Give It Away,” “Suck My Kiss”

little village

Little Village
Little Village

While this supergroup never lived up to its commercial promise, everything magical about Jim Keltner’s drumming skills nourished these 11 tracks. A masterful collection, despite the critical sniping.

Key Tracks: “Solar Sex Panel,” “Take Another Look”

earth and sun and moon

Earth And Sun And Moon
Midnight Oil

Rob Hirst’s muscular drumming enlivens what is arguably the finest collection from this crew of politically active Australian rockers. Dig deep and you hear hints of Hirst’s surf influences.

Key Tracks: “In The Valley,” “My Country”

under the table and dreaming

Under The Table And Dreaming
Dave Matthews Band

In theory, Carter Beauford’s fusion-inspired drumming shouldn’t have meshed with Matthews quirky pop hooks, but the succession of hits proved otherwise. Chops were back.

Key Tracks: “Ants Marching,” “What Would You Say”

best drum albums the tipping point

The Tipping Point
The Roots

Artful contradictions define these ten tracks – rapping backed by an improvisational band, tight-sounding arrangements that feel slack, kaleidoscopic mixes brimming with hooks. ?uestlove shines with angular beats, raw and unadorned, delivered with metronomic precision.

Key Tracks: “Guns Are Drawn,” “I Don’t Care”


car wheels on a gravel road

Car Wheels On A Gravel Road
Lucinda Williams

This Grammy-winner was the best rootsy-songwriter-country album of these 20 years. Donald Lindley, who has now passed on, was an exquisite songwriter’s drummer.

Key Tracks: “2 Kool 2 Be Forgotten”

best drum albums american idiot

American Idiot
Green Day

They resurrected the rock opera and took arrows for not being punk enough. Not punk enough? Who is more punk than Tre Cool?

Key Tracks: “American Idiot”

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John Mayer Trio

Shedding the sucrose sweetness for some biting blues, Mayer brings it in this live release. With Steve Jordan in the pocket, it’s all groove all the time.

Key Tracks: “Who Did You Think I Was?”

fear of a blank planet

Fear Of A Blank Planet
Porcupine Tree

One of the best progressive rock, or rock of any kind, albums of the decade. Gavin Harrison is today’s answer to nearly any drumming question.

Key Tracks: “Anesthetize.”

best drum albums being there

Being There
Tord Gustavsen Trio

Gustavsen is a jazz pianist whose tempos barely break 40 bpm. But slow is beautiful. Jarle Vespetad is a great drummer who makes every piece of the kit a unique instrument.

Key Tracks: “Karmosin”


tales from the hudson

Tales From The Hudson
Michael Brecker

There are so many great Brecker recordings on this one. He’s at the top of his game. Jack DeJohnette is on drums – enough said.

Key Tracks: “Slings And Arrows”

best drum albums pursuance

Pursuance: The Music Of John Coltrane
Kenny Garrett

Brian Blade’s duet with Kenny Garrett is just killing. Plus, they play “Giant Steps” in 5/4 with Pat Metheny on guitar. What’s not to like?

Key Tracks: “Giant Steps”

Lift Live At The Village Vanguard

Lift: Live At The Village Vanguard
Chris Potter

This is post-bop jazz that is lyrical, and tonally and harmonically adventurous, anchored by Bill Stewart on drums and Scott Colley on bass.

Key Tracks: “Boogie Stop Shuffle”

Extended Play Live At Birdland

Extended Play / Live At Birdland
Dave Holland Quintet


This quintet with vibraphone and Billy Kilson on drums shows great ensemble playing in odd-meter groupings.

Key Tracks: “Prime Directive”

Live In New York

Live In New York
Antonio Sanchez

This album is a clinic of contemporary sax playing with amazing time and melody. Antonio Sanchez is unreal in any setting.

Key Tracks: “Challenge Within”

What are your top 5 picks?