Bassists get a raw deal in the world of metal. They’re not as flashy as their six-string counterparts and not cool enough to be the butt of as many jokes as drummers. But metal without a bottom-end sounds like… well, Metallica’s …And Justice For All.
But there are countless bassist out there elevating the act of plonking away on four strings to an art form. One of these is Rickard Persson of Swedish tech-death headspinners Soreption, whose playing is frankly off the scale (check out one of his YouTube playthroughs (opens in new tab) if you don’t believe us).
We figured we’d get Rickard to drive the stake through the heart of the old jokes about how many bassists it takes to change a lightbulb* (*one, but only once the guitarist has shown them how to do it) and tell us about the four-string icons can shred way better than any guitarists. Over to you, bassist fella…
Eugene Abdukhanov (Jinjer)
"I first heard Jinjer around two years ago and of course that band has a lot of reasons for the listener to be blown away. For me Eugene’s playing was the reason. Really great tone, combined with intriguing ideas regarding rhythmical patterns surely hits home! Hope I’m able to see them live one day or even better, tour together."
Oliver Pinard (Cattle Decapitation/Cryptopsy)
"This dude is just a straight ripper of the bass, putting that fine Spector EuroLX to work in Cattle Decapitation and Cryptopsy. They’re two bands that I hold dearly. Cryptopsy were the first really extreme and technical death metal band I got to hear and I remember being totally blown away with the sound and the playing. And then at a later stage in life discovering Cattle Decapitation that has become one of my favourite bands in the scene."
Sean Malone (Cynic)
"A personal gem for me and one that we lost too soon. Sean’s playing really is up there with the greats, and his tasty progressive fretless bass work made him a pioneer and a master of his craft. Cynic is a great inspiration and so was Sean’s playing He’s sincerely missed."
Steve Di Giorgio (Death/Sadus)
"A true legend and an absolute giant of the scene, and someone I’ve looked up to a lot over the years, Steve really influenced me with Death and Sadus – his fretless playing, with the fresh look of it all, really brought tons to the scene in my opinion. A game changer."
Jeroen Paul Thesseling (Obscura)
"Another fretless cat is Jeroen Paul Thesseling, bending really heavy strings with his 7-string bass in Obscura. That fingerboard scares the life out of me, I’m feeling light-headed just looking at him play. With his fusion and jazz-inspired playing, he can let it rip with that monster of a bass. "
Jared Smith (Archspire)
"A good friend and a serious player on the scene – one of the current greats in my opinion. Archspire’s records Relentless Mutation and Bleed The Future absolutely kills. From absolute shredding to tasty playing, he can do it all. I’ve had the privilege to tour with him and watch him perform every single night."
Mike Flores (Origin)
"I remember being introduced to Origin by a good friend who was like ‘Dude, you should really check these guys out.’ So I gave them a shot and now I have a squirrel on a bike running things in my head where my brain used to be. The saying should really be: “Fast, Faster, Mike Flores.” Crazy speed and great technique!"
Alex Webster (Conquering Dystopia/Cannibal Corpse)
"The all-father of the metal bass, the main man! He’s been a truly inspirational figure for me when it comes to playing. His tone is just unprecedented, and you just know it’s him every time you hear him play. I looked a lot at his techniques when I got into playing and I tend to always go back to him in search for inspiration. A personal hero."
Stephen Fimmers (Necrophagist)
"One of the reasons I got into technical death metal was Stephen Fimmers and Necrophagist, he’s basically the whole reason that I’m in Soreption now because without him I wouldn’t gravitate towards that style of music in such a rapid pace. His playing on Epitaph really flipped a switch inside me and made me pursue the craft of being a death metal bass player. No slapping, no plectrums.. just finger style at an amazing pace and great technique! A legend!"
Erlend Caspersen (Spawn Of Possession/Abhorrent)
"In my opinion, the absolute best. A beast of a player, like nothing I’ve ever seen or heard before. So fluid in his playing and so precise and aggressive, a true inspiration for players in the scene I would think or at least he should be. Spawn Of Possesion is just the freaking best for me and Erlend’s playing is the driving force! Icon!"
Soreption’s new album Jord is released 10th June via Unique Leader