In a new interview with U.K.'s Metal Hammer magazine, former SLAYER drummer Dave Lombardo came to the defense of METALLICA's Lars Ulrich. Asked whether he feels Ulrich gets unfairly dismissed as a drummer by many metal fans, Lombardo said: "Absolutely. I saw Mario Duplantier [GOJIRA] recently talking about Lars, saying some kind words.
"I feel Lars is an essential part of that band — anybody else and it just won't sound the same," he continued. "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. 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. 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."
Back in 2014, Lombardo was asked during a clinic in Italy to comment on the fact that Ulrich's drumming skills are constantly questioned. He replied: "I think Lars is a good drummer. He's a good arranger. He arranges… Without Lars, there wouldn't be a METALLICA. So you have to give him credit for what he does for the band."
Lombardo continued: "It's very important... When you have a chemistry within a band. There's four members of the band. When there's chemistry, like a special interaction between musicians, if you take one musician out, it's not the same. If you take Lars out of the equation, it won't be the same."
While speaking with UK's Rhythm magazine back in 2009, Lombardo was a bit more critical of Lars's drumming abilities, saying that playing with METALLICA at Download in June 2004 was a great experience, but adding that it was good to "show 'em how it's done!" Dave continued. "No disrespect to Lars, because Lars is great and he's a very nice guy, but he needs to spend a week at my house and we need to sit down and play. I could show him — 'No, Lars, like this!'… 'Let's chill, let's relax, have some coffee and let's play!' [Laughs]"
A few months later, Lombardo was asked by Noisecreep if Ulrich had ever accepted his offer of drum lessons. "Oh man, no, he hasn't," Lombardo said laughing. "Yeah, but that was all done as a joke. It's just me having fun."
Lombardo added: "Of course someone ask[ed] me about Download festival. It's like, 'Yeah, show him how it's done.' [But] I don't need to show him, he's amazing, but there's always that kind of rivalry, that fun rivalry."
Ulrich blamed his non-appearance at the 2004 Download on exhaustion, caused by an unrelenting tour schedule and the break-up of his seven-year marriage to Skylar Satenstein. He said in 2005 interview: "It was the first-ever METALLICA gig I'd ever missed."
He continued: "You wanna try laying in a hospital in Germany while Dave Lombardo — the greatest drummer on the planet — is playing with your band. That's not easy."