The best drum head for playing heavy metal is the Aquarian Performance II Drumheads. It’s a set of excellent and convenient drum heads that should suit most peoples’ sound.
Heavy metal isn’t for everyone, and some heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath, the founding fathers of the genre, didn’t even like the term at first. But there’s one thing everyone can agree on about heavy metal—when it’s played, it’s played hard.
The best drum heads for metal music need to be fit for a wicked beating. They need to produce a thunderous sound, and they need to match the dark aesthetic of your band.
The best drum heads for playing heavy metal are:
- Aquarian Performance II Drumheads
- Evans G2 Coated Drum Head
- Evans EMAD2 Clear Bass Drum Head
- Evans Genera Dry Drum Head
- Evans EMAD Onyx Bass Drum Head
- Aquarian Drumheads Drumhead Pack
Drum heads come in many forms, individual and as a set. Of course, the top spot will be taken by this set that should fit every drum in a standard kit. It’s convenient and perfect for people unfamiliar with changing their drum heads. You don’t have a preference for individual heads yet, so just get them all in one go.
This standard set should fit the average set of drums. There are 12, 13 and 16-inch heads included for you to play with. Each drum head is clear, for a vicious attack, and double ply, which adds to that.
Being double ply means they’re also more durable. This particular set is crafted in such a way that eliminates air bubbles between the two plies. That keeps your sound clean for months and months of play.
The heads are also specially made for a deep, fat sound, especially on the tom-toms. They’re designed for loose tuning, delivering depth and punch. They’re also sealed around the edges for extra power. That’s really desirable in heavy metal music.
Overall, this is the best set for beginners and people looking for convenience and power. You get everything you need in one purchase, and buying together will cost less than buying separately.
This drum head can’t be pinned down. Here are the basics about it.
Evans G2 drum heads are double ply for durability during play. They’re versatile for all genres you might have to play in. A self declared “working drummer’s choice.” This is great if metal’s not your only gig. These coated heads are designed to deliver focus, depth and a warm tone to any genre of music.
But there are clear versions of every coated, offering the same quality but without the warm, focused depth. Something for if you want a punchier tone. Depending on your musical style, both could be great for metal. It’s a subjective genre full of unique, variable sounds.
The Evans G2 model is variable in more than just that way, though. There’s a head available for any drum, from 6 inches to 20. There are also three tom packs available, standard, rock and fusion.
The standard pack offers three drum heads at 12, 13 and 16 inches. The fusion offers 10, 12 and 14. Lastly, the rock offers 10, 12 and 16 inches. Grabbing your drum heads in a pack is not only convenient, but it saves money. And if those offers aren’t enough, you can always buy more options from the same head model.
Evans really has everything and everyone is covered with the G2 drum head. The same sound spread across every head most people need. Something for every taste and size requirements.
Evans makes a lot of drum heads, including one of the best bass drum heads for metal.
This one is a clear head, for a vicious attack and a clear, articulate sound. It’s supposed to be excellent for all genres, as it has adjustable dampening. So you can utilize it for your heavy metal and adjust on a per-song basis if need be. Whatever sound you want, the drum head can provide.
It’s also variable in size, with five options available. The sizing goes up from 18–26 inches, increasing in increments of two inches with each size. Made to fit any drum kit on stage or in the studio, and last through many performances.
The double ply head adds the durability necessary for that lasting quality. It also adds to the attack of the drum, which is desirable in heavy metal. So you can tune away, which is made easy by a level 360 collar, and get thundering.
If you’re not geared up and ready to thunder yet, there’s also an option to buy the head with a drum beater. Even if you have one you can’t go wrong with a spare drum beater, and the beater will be perfectly catered to give you the best sound with this drum head.
Of course, the head should sound fantastic no matter what you beat it with. That’s what it’s designed to do.
Although it’s only single, this Evans Genera drum head reacts with the fat spread of a double ply drum head.
Perhaps you could use this head not for violently beaten tom-toms, but for the snare head which you’re hopefully more lenient towards. So the fact that it’s only single ply isn’t too much of a downer. It’s still durable and offers an incredible sound at that, and although there’s a size for every head, it works best on the snares.
This snappy snare head is made to deliver a tight sound without excessive overtones. Everything is controlled including sustain, and stray harmonics are reeled in and handled. It’s a coated head with a sound as clean as a clear head.
As well as a clean sound, this drum head offers a clean fit. It’s easy to fit and tune, with an extended tuning range and sound quality. Perfect for a precise drummer who wants an easy time with not only installation, but getting the right sound.
You play heavy metal. Perhaps your aesthetic matches the dark, heavy music. So, why not utilize a black drum head, as black as Black Sabbath’s name or Lars Ulrich’s eyeliner in his youth?
This onyx bass drum head should add to any twisted aesthetic. It should also fit any drum set, going from 18–26 inches in diameter in 2-inch increments. And any playing style, too, with an externally mounted adjustable damping system.
The adjustable damping system lets you adjust the focus and attack to perfectly customize your sound. Perfect if you and your band have a signature style, or you need to adjust for an uncharacteristic ballad between rocking out.
And the fact that it’s externally mounted shows that it’s optional. You don’t have to fit it into the drum if you don’t want to. It’s an added bonus of the ferocious drum head.
Of course, this drum head won’t be ferocious on its own. Luckily you can pair it with other onyx drum heads in Evans’ EMAD range. Unfortunately, you’ll have to look for and purchase those separately, as they don’t come as part of a set.
At least that lets you test out one of the models first and see if it’s to your liking. Why not start with the bass, the biggest drum of them all? You’re sure to find out what you like and dislike with that.
Sadly the last black drum head was single ply, which isn’t ideal for everyone. So why not try a double ply one? It’s from a different manufacturer, but of no lesser quality.
It doesn’t have the fancy damping system of Evans’ onyx drum head but it’s got a powerful sound. The coated double ply lets you hit hard with no harm done, for a roaring beat.
It’s also more affordable than Evans’ drum head, which is great for players on a budget. It could be fantastic for a picky beginner who wants to replace all their drum heads with black ones—white won’t do! There’s nothing overly unique about the sound, but you just want the aesthetic.
Overall, this is a fantastic set of dark drum heads that should suit anyone on a budget or looking for basics. They have a great, loud tone for heavy metal, but are also wonderful for any musical styling you’re into.
Things to Consider When Buying Drum Heads
There are things to consider when buying any drum head for any genre, not just heavy metal. One thing that’s important for heavy metal is durability, as you’ll likely be smashing the heads more harshly than most players.
All drum heads from notable brands, such as Evans and Aquarian, will have that part down. Leaving you free to consider the technical aspects that make up a drum head—there are two main choices to make with this.
Coated vs. Clear
If you’re not too fussed about how your heads sound—as a beginner, you might just think “a drum’s a drum”—then think of the aesthetic. Which look will go best with your set and your band’s overall look?
Then when it comes to sound, it’s a matter of preference. However, there are some tones that’ll work better in heavy metal music than others. It may still be a matter of opinion as music is subjective, but it’s something to note.
Coated drum heads often have a more muffled sound than clear heads. That’s something that may be desirable in metal, depending on what you like.
These heads are also great for playing with brushes. They sound almost like sandpaper, which is an interesting element to add to a song.
Tom drums, specifically, with coated heads have a warm sound, although they lack the attack of clear ones. That could add something unique to your metal music, though the attack is what’s generally desired in it.
Clear drum heads lack warmth, but their sound is bright. It’s clear and open, and it has an unmatched attack.
A bright sound isn’t generally what you’re going for in heavy metal, but the attack is. Although, you could achieve the attack with a mic, speaker, and the volume cranked. Maybe some distortion for extra oomph.
Really it’s up to you to decide what you like best. There’s no wrong way to go with drum heads.
Now we’re heading back into the area of durability, with the ply of your drum head. Single ply and double ply both have their benefits, but the main one of double ply will be that they’re more durable.
Single ply drum heads resonate well and have a bright tone. They emphasize overtones, and are excellent for light music, such as Jazz, for example.
They probably won’t do well in rock or metal music, but if you’re up for frequently replacing them they could work. There are several industry-standard drum heads that are single ply. It’s all about preference and the work you’re willing to put in.
Here are the drum heads to go for if durability is your only concern. However, if you’re past that stage and are more concerned about sound, they bring their own mix to the table.
Double ply drum heads have great attack, which is desirable in heavy metal. But they have reduced sustain and overtones, so it’s up to you to decide if that’s important in your music. Experiment, see what works for your playing style, then decide.
Go to a music store, see what feels and sounds best. Then decide which one of the products we’ve reviewed seems best.
Or, if you can’t access a music store, order one of each and try your hand. Send back what you don’t like, but be careful not to damage it as you rock out!
How Often Should I Change My Drum Head?
An obvious answer to this would be, “whenever they wear out.” You can tell the head has worn out by a change in the tone, or they look worn. Often you won’t be able to tell they look worn until you remove the head, and see some pits where the sticks hit the drum head.
However, to stay on top of things, it’s best to get on a regular head changing schedule. This helps make sure your drums always sound their best. If you practice daily, try to aim for changing your drum heads every six months.
Can I Mix and Match?
You can do whatever you want. They’re your drums. But be mindful and make sure the heads you choose sound the same, even when from a different brand or set of heads.
The sound is the most important part of your drums, especially if you’re beyond the beginning stage of “anything goes.” So as long as it sounds sensational, feels fantastic and is pleasing to the eye, you’re set. Even if every drum head is a different brand.
The Best Beats
The best drum heads for metal are the Aquarian Performance II Drumheads. They’re a whole set so that’s convenient, reasonably priced and have all the oomph heavy metal lovers crave. They’re strong in sound and survival, they’re chic yet basic and should suit most aesthetics. It’d be hard to go wrong with them, if they deliver the sound you’re after.
If you’d rather throw your sticks in another direction, the Evans G2 Coated Drum Head is a great way to go. Coated for a dampened, heavy sound and with options available to suit (hopefully) everyone. Sure, it’s not a set fit for your whole kit, but there are several tom heads to choose from, and size options ranging from small, snappy snares to the bountiful, bulbous bass.