Metal drummers are among the most talented out there, having to play complex patterns sometimes in crazy time signatures. The key to getting that extra 10% in your sound is the details. The drummers who pay attention to the proper kit setup and maintenance are those most likely to get the best sound. Whether you’re recording or gigging, getting the best drum heads for metal will ensure you get that signature sound for your own specific genre of music.
Metal and all of the subgenres within the metal umbrella tend to be quite different in tone and sound than most other genres. The standard drum heads and skins that ship with drum sets are great for learning and may be very high quality but they don’t always have the bite and attack needed for your sound.
Evans Heads Heavyweight Snare Drum Head
Evans is a really popular brand for drum heads. This fits the bill for metal, as the two-ply design means a fast attack and short sustain for that metal sound we love. The Evans Heavyweight is great for heavy hitters and is an extremely durable and hard-wearing drum head. It is an affordable snare head and comes in three different sizes, 12 inches, 13 inches and 14 inches so can fit a huge amount of different kits.
This drum head has a huge amount of positive reviews. The enhanced collar design means that you can tune the head easily and ensure it offers a wide pitch range and great sound when your drum head is tuned. If you aren’t a heavy hitter, some reviewers have said that this head takes a little bit of getting used to.
Remo Powerstroke P4 Bass Drumhead
Remo is another titan in the world of drum heads, and their Powerstroke range is superb for the punch we need for this kind of drumming. We’re specifically recommending their bass drum head, the P4 model.
The Powerstroke 4 is possibly the elder sibling of the Powerstroke 3, which is single ply. The Powerstroke 4 is two-ply giving it the more ‘metal’ punch and sound. The plies are in 7mm and 5mm and give a massive sound and punch that will cut through the mix and make an impression live. It is available in 18″, 20″, 22″, 24″, 26″ and 28″ so you will be able to find the right model for your own metal kick drum.
This also fits the bill in terms of durability, this is absolutely vital when it comes to kick drums as they can take a hell of a beating, especially from metal drummers. You may even have a double kick drum pedal pounding away at it, so it is important to have something that can stand the test of time and take a beating (quite literally).
As well as these features, there is a built-in damping ring, which does what you would expect and dampens the sound. These are coated with a warmer sound.
Though we’ve specifically mentioned the bass drum head, this range is equally good for snare and toms, and you can skin your whole kit with Remo Powerstroke if you so wish.
Remo PP0312BE Clear Emperor Power ProPack Drumheads
This is a way for you to get your whole set of drums covered without spending a fortune. Remo has recognized the need for people to cover their whole kit, and how expensive it can be buying heads individually. This pack will be able to provide all you need not just snare drums but for your toms as well.
As well as having two floating 7 mm mylar sheets, the set comes with 12″, 13″ and 16″ heads, along with a 14″ head thrown in for free. Depending on the setup of your kit, this may well mean that a lot of your drums are covered. Remo also offers packs of heads specifically for toms, so you can put heads on all three toms without having to splash out and buy them individually. It makes perfect sense, and the flexibility of the Remo range, combined with durability and great tone means they come with our recommendation. A great way of doing things without breaking the bank.
Evans Heads EMAD Heavyweight Bass Drum Head
Another bass drum head, and the Remo vs Evans competition for the best heads continues to rumble on! This is a little bit of a pricier option for your kick drum. A great punch comes from two 10mil plies. It is available in all sizes from 18″ to 26″ so you can find the right size for your kit.
Perhaps the best thing about the EMAD is the amazing adjustable damping system which means the drummer can adjust the attack of the drums. Perfect for customizing your sound and having the utmost control of your sounds. Evans described it as a versatile drum head, but it certainly does the job for metal sounds and gives a superb attack and depth.
Which Heads to Replace?
Anyone who has ever shopped for drum heads will know that it isn’t the simplest market to make choices. Not only different brands competing for your purchase, but there are different drums on your kit! Do you need heads for just your kick, or do the snare and toms need their own specific metal heads?
In an ideal world, optimizing all of your drum heads is the best way to tailor your sound. This can be an expensive practice, and you may not be able to do it all in one go. You can replace your heads gradually. If you plan to do this, my opinion is prioritizing the snare, then the bass drum. Kick and snare heads are always key components to any drum set. The toms should be the last thing to replace, but shouldn’t be ignored.
Considerations When Buying a Drum Head for Metal
- A heavy tone. They don’t call it ‘heavy metal’ for nothing. Most metal sounds require a strong attack with low, bassy tones. Many metal heads are two-ply and this gives a punchy sound with little sustain and not much in the way of overtones. Perfect for the sound you’re looking for. Heavy tone is a must.
- Durability for heavy hitters. Cheap and flimsy drum heads can let you down. Many drummers in metal bands are heavy hitters, so you need a drum that can handle this.
- Affordability. Ideally, you want to achieve this in an affordable way if possible. Money is always a consideration and music is not a cheap hobby or profession!
Changing Drum Heads
While we won’t go into a huge amount of detail, it is worth knowing how to change your drum heads properly. We’ve included a video guide below to take you through the process. Especially good for beginners. It also has some detail on tuning your drums, which can help get the snappy metal sound you’re looking for.
What can seem like a simple thing can actually make a huge difference to your sound, and even style of drumming. The feel, durability, and tone of your drums are crucial and anyone who has gone through the process of changing their heads will probably tell you the same.
If you have any thoughts to add or your own recommendations for metal drum heads, leave us a comment below!