The 12 Hardest Drum Songs: Are You Up to the Challenge?

What are the hardest drum songs? That’s subjective, of course. Everyone learns drums at a different pace, and it’s important to determine the right pace for you. Sometimes, however, you want to challenge yourself and see what you can do. Take a break from your normal practice routine and try your hand at these challenging drum songs, chosen by San Diego, CA drum instructor Maegan W…

Calling all drummers!

If you’re ready for a challengehere are some of the hardest drum songs (in my humble opinion) for you to tackle on your drum kit.

What is the Hardest Drum Song?

hardest drum songs

So what is the hardest song to play on drums? Here are some top contenders:

  • “La Villa Strangiato” – Rush
  • “Moby Dick” – Led Zeppelin
  • “Ticks and Leeches” – Tool
  • “Goliath” – The Mars Volta
  • “Sedation Deprivation” – Nerve (Jojo Mayer)
  • “Bleed” – Meshuggah
  • “The Violation” – Fleshgod Apocalypse
  • “A Night in Tunisia” – Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
  • “Caravan” – Whiplash
  • “Sing, Sing, Sing” – Gene Krupa

If you’re learning to play the drums, be sure to check out this video. It has all kinds of information on basic drum rudiments to help make mastering all kinds of drum songs – including the tough ones! – a bit easier.

What Makes the Hardest Song to Play on Drums?

hardest drum songs

These songs are the most challenging because they include several, if not all, of the following criteria:

  • Precise dynamic control and execution: Every level of every note is intended and complimentary to the music.
  • Technicality: Most, if not all, of these songs contain very unique and challenging grooves and fills. They may seem simple at first, but they are much more difficult than they appear.
  • Speed: Many of these songs have grooves and fills played at high speeds for the amount of notes being played. They include complex beats played at top speeds.
  • Polyrhythms: Hard drum songs usually contain poly rhythms, or the simultaneous use of two or more conflicting rhythms.
  • Odd meter: Many of these songs are in odd time or odd meter. Common time is 4/4 and anything else is considered odd. Challenging drum songs will often incorporate several different time signatures in one song.

If you’re still up to the challenge, let’s get to the list!

12 Hardest Drum Songs to Master

hardest drum songs

Curious about some of the hardest drum songs? While the hardest drum song will vary depending on your skill level, playing preferencesand other factors, these are some of the hardest songs to play on drums – of all time! Most drummers agree that these tunes are just downright tricky to master.

Drum roll please…..

1. “La Villa Strangiato” – Rush

The hardest song to play on drumsin our opinion, is “La Villa Strangiato” by Rush.

This song contains almost all of the criteria on our list, along with other aspects that make it extremely challenging.

Not only are there a ton of different parts to learn, but the technicality, speed, and precision put it on another level.

2. “Moby Dick” – Led Zeppelin

“Moby Dick” is probably the hardest Led Zeppelin drum song of all time. This song features some crazy footwork by John Bonham and great bass dynamics. There is a world of difference between playing these hand-foot combinations, and playing them with dynamics.

If you want to nail this song, you need to play with complete control and finesse.

3. “Ticks and Leeches” – Tool


This song can be described in one word: insane! But seriously, the polyrhythms are hard enough to figure out, let alone play all at once.

Watch the video, and pay close attention to Danny Carey’s precision.

This song is also demanding and requires a good deal of endurance.

4. “Goliath” – The Mars Volta

(or anything from The Mars Volta, really)

Start with a nasty groove in multiple time signatures, then add a blazing fast double bass beat, crazy fills, and blast beats (and that’s all before the breakdown).

Try this song, if you dare!

5. “Sedation Deprivation” – Nerve (Jojo Mayer)

Let’s compare this one to our list of criteria for the hardest drum songs:

Odd meter? Check!
Blazing speed? Check!
Insane Poly rhythms? Double check!
Complete dynamic control? Check!
Funky breakbeats? Check!

The list goes on…

This one may take a while, but will be well worth it once you’ve got it down; it has a hypnotizing groove and a smooth feel.

6. “Bleed” – Meshuggah

Though it might not be the hardest song ever on drumsit is quite challenging, especially as a beginner!

A progressive metal offering, it has a truly mind-altering pattern that’s breathtaking to listen to but very difficult to master. It’s played in 4/4 time but has double bass speed along with intricate polyrhythms, demanding footwork, and more.

Get ready to break a sweat when you play this song on the drums – it requires a lot of stamina, to say the least!

7. “Dance of Eternity” – Dream Theater

This song is probably one of the hardest metal songs to play on drums. It is technically part of the progressive metal genre and what makes it so tricky is that it uses many different time signature variations.

You’re not sticking to 4/4 with this one!

All the complex time signatures make this song one of the hardest drum songs in and of itself. However when you throw in all kinds of drum fillsgrooves, and high speed sections, it is very, very difficult.

And did we mention that there’s barely any repetition to fall back on?

8. “Blackened” – Metallica

This is the hardest Metallica song on drums that you’ll find! Some drummers claim that Metallica songs are tricky in general, so it might be easy to find other competitors in this category.

However, this song has a lot of timing variations and plenty of other complicated drumming techniques that make it a real beast to master.

9. “The Violation” – Fleshgod Apocalypse

This is perhaps the hardest drum song in the death metal genre.

A headbanger, it has a powerful drum performance with relentless beats. Its speed makes it more challenging, too.

10. “A Night in Tunisia” – Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

Another one of the hardest songs to play on drums is “A Night in Tunisia.”

Actually, we take that back – this song is just hard, period. Like most jazz songs, it has a lot of refined and complex drum sections (along with plenty of intricate drum solos) that make it absolutely beautiful, but also very difficult to get the hang of.

11. “Caravan” – Whiplash

Another one of the hardest drumming songs is “Caravan” by Whiplash. With a mixture of jazz and samba tempos thrown in the mix, this song has an excellent tune and it’s super fun to play – however, it’s challenging.

You’ll need to master your technique in order to play this song, but once you get the hang of it, it’s one of the most fun songs to play on the drums because there’s plenty of room for innovation and improvisation.

12. “Sing, Sing, Sing” – Gene Krupa

Yet another one of the hardest drum songs is “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Gene Krupa. It includes all kinds of instruments in the drumset, including cymbals, snare, tom-toms, and more.

It’s a great song to aspire to play as you’re learning how to play the drums – but don’t get discouraged if you don’t get the hang of it right away. It’s a real tough one!

What is the Hardest Style of Drumming?

hardest drum songs

By and large, jazz is considered the hardest style of drumming, followed closely by Latin and metal. Jazz has such a large range of material to master and since improvisation is often standard, it can be tough to ever know what to expect!

That said, you’ll find plenty of the hardest drumming songs Regardless of the genre you choose to play in.

Of course, there are millions of songs that could be included in a list of the hardest drum songs, but these are my top five. My list may vary from other peoples’, but I wanted to include different types of music.

I hope you have fun with these songs, go ahead and have try to play some, or all of them. If you’re not quite ready to tackle the hardest drum songs, we’ve got some more options for you in our ultimate list of drum songs.

Want to improve your drum skills? Search here for a drum instructor near you!



Post Author: Megan W.
Maegan W. teaches drums, songwriting, and more in San Diego, CA. She earned a degree in Percussion from the Musician’s Institute, and has been teaching private lessons since 2004. Learn more about Maegan here!


Photo by Sean Molin

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