Analysis Of Nicko McBrain's Iron Maiden Licks

nicko mcbrain

In the 30 years since nicko McBrain replaced Clive Burr as the drummer for Iron Maiden, his pocket playing, incredible single-pedal bass drum work, and ability to handle complex rhythmic figures and time signatures have impacted countless fans and fellow drummers. Here we break down some of the highlights of McBrain’s playing over the years.

PART 1: Grooves Of The Beast

Prior to playing with Iron Maiden, McBrain played with various musicians of all styles. That is what gives his pocket such a unique feel among metal drummers today.

Ex. 1 “Powerslave”
(Flight 666 [DVD], 2009)
Guitarist Adrian Smith once said members of the band thought that McBrain might in fact be too funky for Maiden. This excerpt from the song “Powerslave,” off the documentary DVD is right after the guitar solo section when McBrain kicks the band back into the main riff of the song, and is in fact one of McBrain’s funkier performances with the band.

DRUM! Notation Guide

nicko mcbrain

Ex. 2 “The Wicker Man”
(Brave New World, 2000)
McBrain’s single bass playing means he approaches metal drumming in a different way from most double bass drummers, who tend to put the bass drum under just about everything. This example from the opening groove of “The Wicker Man” demonstrates his unique approach as he allows the ride bell to support the guitar riff, which gives the groove an almost Latin flavor.

nicko mcbrain
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