Dave Lombardo, the legendary former Slayer drummer and current man behind the kit for extreme metal project Empire State Bastard, has come to the defence of Metallica icon Lars Ulrich. Speaking exclusively to Metal Hammer, Lombardo is robust in his answer as to whether he feels Ulrich gets unfairly dismissed as a drummer by many metal fans.
“Absolutely!" he agrees. "I saw Mario Duplantier recently talking about Lars, saying some kind words. I feel Lars is an essential part of that band – anybody else and it just won’t sound the same. I admonish the people who talk shit about him, I don’t like that. You have to embrace who Lars is, and his contribution to Metallica’s sound. They’re such an inspirational band, and everybody wants to be as big as they are, and you can only do that by taking risks. They shocked people when they cut their hair or whatever, but it was part of their evolution and they clearly knew what they were doing. I love that they’re still out there, kicking ass."
Lombardo also discusses his favourite of his drumming contemporaries, naming one artist in particular from some Bay Area icons that he's always had the utmost respect for.
“There were so many great drummers, I can’t just pinpoint one," he says. "You admire bands with good drummers, but for me, Tom Hunting from Exodus was the first I saw, when we left LA and went to San Francisco I saw them and was like ‘this guy is badass, and you know what? He still is! We played a show with those guys in Testament [Lombardo played with Testament from 98-99 and 2022-this year], and that guy is stronger than ever. He’s made an amazing comeback after his illness [Hunting was treated for stomach cancer in 2022] and I’m so proud of him, and I’m so happy to have seen those guys as many times as I have.”
You can read more from Lombardo's interview in an upcoming issue of Metal Hammer magazine.
Earlier this year, Gojira's Mario Duplantier spoke similar sentiments of Lars Ulrich's ability as a drummer, stating on The Downbeat podcast: “We need to bring some justice for him, because it's not about moving tempo-wise. It's what he created in the past. I'm a bit tired of seeing all this conversation about Lars because what he did create is quite unique. Listen to, fucking, …And Justice for All. It's amazing.
"It's very physical and what he brought to the table back in the day – you know, playing without shirts and doing all these faces, and standing up behind the kits – is almost more important than the rest," he added.