Septicflesh’s “hellblast” technique

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Note Benardo’s left foot

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You may have seen one-man bands – the ones busking in the street – using a setup whereby, via pedals, one foot plays a bass drum and the other foot plays a snare drum.

Fotis Benardo may be the first metal drummer to employ this concept.

The Septicflesh (I still think the spelling change from “Septic Flesh” was stupid) drummer has invented a technique that he calls the “hellblast”. In this interview, he explains it to Hard Rock Mag editor Sven Letourneur:

Fotis, you told me about the “hellblast” on one song. Can you explain this sort of blast beat played with the left foot hammering a vertical snare drum on the floor and the right foot hitting the bass drum? Did you invent this technique?

“Hellblast” is the evolution of an idea I had few years ago. Initially, I started performing this drum technique in gigs, without thinking of using it for recording purposes. It’s basically a variation of the normal “blast-beat”, where the main difference is that the blast is performed by one foot only. Most drummers play blasts using both feet. By doing it with my right foot, I have the opportunity to use my left foot to kick a second snare that is positioned there vertically, exactly like a bass drum. And so I have both of my hands free to play even more notes on the drum kit, making fills without stopping the frenzied beat. After our U.S./Canada tour with Behemoth, where I witnessed the reaction of the crowd to the “hellblast”. I thought that it would be nice to present how it is done and, why not, give the “tip” to new drummers that are looking for some new stuff. I used this technique on the recordings of the song “Apocalypse” and I really like how it sounds…

In other words, Benardo is blasting on a snare using his left foot, leaving both hands free to add other stuff on top. What a cool idea! You can see it in action above, though I’m not sure if you can really hear it. I’m curious what kind of tone Benardo gets with the vertical snare, since a bass drum beater is obviously not a drumstick.

Septicflesh’s new album The Great Mass comes out April 18 in Europe and April 19 in North America. You can stream “The Vampire From Nazareth”, a song from it, here. I really enjoyed their last record Communion and am looking forward to this new one.

— Cosmo Lee

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