We could have picked many different songs to showcase the drumming talent of Lars Ulrich. Arguably, picking Metallica’s metal anthem ‘Enter The Sandman’ is a pretty average choice. But there’s something about Ulrich’s thudding power when you isolate his work that just feels awe-inspiring.
It isn’t the most note-heavy performance from Ulrich, but with this isolated drum track of one of Metallica’s most well-known songs, you get a real sense of the power Ulrich has in his hands.
Not often considered too regularly amid the debate of who the greatest drummer of all time is, Lars Ulrich has an undoubted tone that has helped to accelerate Metallica to the top of the pile of all metal music. His snare drum, in particular, is a coveted sound on any record. That said, it’s on this Metallica classic that you can really feel the drums.
The opening track of the band’s self-titled album from 1991 has gone on to typify the group’s output. Powerful and unrelenting, Metallica takes no prisoners on the song and their fame grew dramatically after the song landed, providing a fork in the road for the group who had only previously enjoyed localised fame and fortune.
The single shifted 1,000,000 copies and 30 million copies of Metallica were sold off the back of it. The song was largely hung, as Ulrich himself has said, on one powerhouse riff. Written by both guitarist Kirk Hammett and even Ulrich himself, the song’s razor-sharp riff does well to sear a permanent imprint of Metallica on your brain.
The song initially spent time without lyrics, “‘Enter Sandman’ was the first thing we came up with when we sat down for the songwriting process in July 1990,” Ulrich told Uncut magazine in 2007. “The 10-minute, fucking progressive, 12-tempo-changes side of Metallica had run its course after…and Justice For All.
“We wanted to streamline and simplify things. We wrote the song in a day or two. All the bits of ‘Enter Sandman’ are derived from the main riff. But what’s interesting is,” he added, “It was the last song James wrote lyrics to.”
Lyrics and guitar aside, the song is really underpinned by Ulrich’s epic drumming. The spare use of his kit, only using it to punctuate the song’s sentiment, show what a clever percussionist Ulrich is and also the incredible studio he had around him. Producer Bob Rock and engineer Randy Staub apparently spent weeks setting up Ulrich’s kit before they even laid a track down.
This power and precision is perfectly highlighted when you isolate the drums of Metallica’s ‘Enter The Sandman’.