Slayer’s Dave Lombardo defends Metallica’s Lars Ulrich against criticism

Dave Lombardo has spoken out against the criticism Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich often receives – claiming he “admonishes” those who “talk shit about him”.

The drummer – who was formerly a member of both Slayer and Testament, and now plays in the extreme metal project Empire State Bastard – spoke out against the hate that is often aimed towards the thrash musician in a new interview with Metal Hammer, and expressed his appreciation for Ulrich.

The conversation arose when the interviewer asked Lombardo whether or not he feels the Metallica drummer gets unfairly dismissed by many metal fans, and often has his influence on the band overlooked.

“Absolutely!” he said. “I admonish the people who talk shit about him, I don’t like that. You have to embrace who Lars is, and his contribution to Metallica’s sound.”

He also explained that he saw another legendary metal drummer – Mario Duplantier of Gojira – rush to defend Ulrich in a recent interview, and fully agrees with his stance.

Lars Ulrich of Metallica
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs at Lollapalooza at Grant Park on July 28, 2022 in Chicago CREDIT: Scott Legato/Getty Images

“I saw Mario Duplantier recently talking about Lars, saying some kind words,” he recalled, referring to a recent interview on The Downbeat podcast earlier this year. “I feel Lars is an essential part of that band – anybody else and it just won’t sound the same.”

“[With Metallica,] they’re such an inspirational band, and everybody wants to be as big as they are, and you can only do that by taking risks,” he continued. “They shocked people when they cut their hair or whatever, but it was part of their evolution and they clearly knew what they were doing. I love that they’re still out there, kicking ass.”

Elsewhere in the interview with the outlet, Lombardo also revealed the contemporary drummers he admires, in particular, Exodus’ Tom Hunting.

“There were so many great drummers, I can’t just pinpoint one,” he said. “For me, Tom Hunting from Exodus was the first I saw. When we left LA and went to San Francisco I saw them and was like ‘This guy is badass, and you know what? He still is!

Dave Lombardo of Mr. Bungle performs at the Fox Theater on May 23, 2023
Dave Lombardo of Mr. Bungle performs at the Fox Theater on May 23, 2023. CREDIT: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

We played a show with those guys in Testament, and that guy is stronger than ever. He’s made an amazing comeback after his [battle with stomach cancer last year] and I’m so proud of him, and I’m so happy to have seen those guys as many times as I have.”

Currently, Lombardo is part of the new extreme metal band Empire State Bastard, which is formed by Biffy Clyro members Simon Neil and Mike Vennart.

The four-piece – completed by Bitch Falcon’s bassist Naomi Macleod – is set to release their debut album ‘Rivers Of Heresy’ next month, and will also embark on a UK and European tour later in the year.

Speaking in a recent interview for NME’s In Conversation series, Neil revealed how they managed to get Lombardo to join the line-up.

In the discussion, he revealed that he and Vennart spent two weeks talking about drummers who could “play like Dave Lombardo” before one day during the pandemic they said: “Shall we just fucking get Dave Lombardo’s address and email him?”

“He really understood what we were trying to do with this album and band,” they told NME. “He’s so busy and gets approached for a lot of things, but as soon as he came back and said, ‘This is special, I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna play with you and make this record’ – that’s when we went, ‘Right, this is fucking happening.’”

Elsewhere in their discussion with NME, Neil described ESB as going for “extremity at all costs”, and embarking on a “hideously horrific musical journey”.

“Because we play together in Biffy, there’s no point in us doing another project that doesn’t feel miles apart,” he explained. “That’s a pet hate of mine, when people leave their full-time band to do another thing and it’s just a slightly different version of what they’re doing anyway. What’s the fucking point?”


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