Let’s not kid ourselves—Lars Ulrich is one of rock’s great polarizing figures. He seems to have an uncanny knack for pissing people off, and there are many who criticize his ragged playing. Still, there are a vocal bunch who are quick to sing the praises of the Metallica stickman.
One of them is metal drummer extraordinaire, Mike Portnoy. Having logged hours behind the kit with Winery Dogs, Avenged Sevenfold, Metal Allegiance, Adrenaline Mob, and (of course) Dream Theater, Portnoy has distinguished himself as one of the greatest percussionists in the game. And he has nothing but love for good ol’ Lars, delivering backhanded compliment after backhanded compliment in a recent interview with Sticks For Stones.
“I don’t judge drummers based on their technical ability – I judge them based on the overall package and what they bring to the music they’re part of,” he says. “What Lars brings to the music of Metallica is absolutely invaluable. So I could care less if his meter might be slightly up and down, or if his fills are slightly sloppy. I don’t care about that. There’s way more to being a good drummer than precision and technique.”
Slightly sloppy, huh? Hmmm. Portnoy went on to reference Lars’ rep in the music world. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Lars, even though he takes a beating in the drum community. He’s been a tremendous asset to Metallica — not only as a writer, but as a businessman, his abilities to market things, his ability to arrange music and his performance on stage. He’s a very animated player onstage.”