Tomas Haake has been turning drummer’s heads ever since Meshuggah broke onto the extreme metal scene. Haake has the requisite fast feet and powerful hands, but he also happens to play some of the genre’s most interesting grooves. Meshuggah drum parts are often a collaboration — some written by the band, some by Haake, but regardless of their origin, they’re always original and complex. It’s not uncommon to see some of the biggest names in metal standing in the wings of Meshuggah shows, shaking their heads at their strange, odd-time grooves, polyrhythmic feel changes, and flawless execution. The drum parts are constructed to fit the guitar parts — and with patterns this strange, that’s a necessity.
Haake starts this 7/4 tune with a cool tom-based groove that also serves as the basis for the chorus. The groove hints at a polyrhythmic feel, partly because the toms are mixed much lower than the kick, snare, and cymbals. This mix decision also makes the pattern drive more from the bottom, rather than from the tom melody. The next section replaces the toms with a cymbal, but still maintains the same basic kick-and-snare pattern. The reason for the groove’s polyrhythmic feel becomes more obvious here, as Haake phrases the notes in groups of three sixteenths, playing the first two notes in each group, kind of like a displaced shuffle. We’ve indicated how this works in the third measure of the pattern. Note that these aren’t triplets — they’re phrases of three sixteenths that continually shift under the eighth-note cymbal pattern. By playing eight groups of three and one of four at the end, he resolves the pattern, and turns it around to begin again. This is a very cool idea.