The 25 Most Important People in Metal: #22, Kim Kelly


As much as metal is a genre of music and a lifestyle, it is also a community. And like all communities, it has its leaders — men and women whose work, be it by design or circumstance, affects all lovers of extreme music on a regular basis.

Throughout November, MetalSucks will celebrate these industry leaders by counting down The 25 Most Important People in Metal one per day. To be clear, this is a list of the people we believe are most important to metal today, in 2016 — not necessarily the most important people overall in the entire history of the genre. Some of them are musicians. Many of them are not. Some of them are people you’ve heard of. Many of them work behind the scenes and do not routinely get to take a bow. But they all have one thing in common: more than just cogs in a machine, they are truly, undeniably irreplaceable. 

Your MetalSucks editors-in-chief have known Kim Kelly since she was 19 years old. She was just as ardent a supporter of the metal underground, just as independent, and just as steadfast in her devotion to metal then as she is now.

Kim has been fearlessly championing all things tr00, br00tal and cvlt for close to a decade now, and her dedication to the metal scene has never waivered even a little. Many of the bands she wrote about on her own volition when they were still unsigned have grown to become stars while several probably still haven’t played anywhere outside of their hometown, but Kim’s dedication to her inner voice and tastes remains remarkably consistent. She’s as devoted a metalhead as I’ve ever met.

In the time since she was taking weekend treks up to NYC from her college in Philly, of course, she’s grown into a superb writer whose chops are equal to or better than metal scribes with twice as many years under their belts. Her style is sharp, witty, articulate and, most of all, fun to read. It’s personal in nature, too; Kim has never been afraid to inject all of herself into what she writes, and reading her coverage of the metal scene — whether recounting her experience at an Icelandic festival, trying to spread the word about a band no one outside of a basement in Peoria, IL has heard of (besides her), or simply writing up a track premiere at Vice’s Noisey.com, where she’s now an editor — to read a story written by Kim is as much about the subject matter as it is to get a look into what it’s like to actually BE Kim.

And that may be the single most important reason why she’s, well, important: she’s a fucking lightning rod in the metal community, and stands up to all the vitriol, hate and misogyny directed her way with the utmost class, poise and determination. I don’t think there’s a single person in metal who gets it worse than Kim does. Simply trying to exist in an extremely male-dominated world has its challenges for all women in the metal scene, and the level to which Kim is subjected to hatred by men who can’t deal with the fact that an intelligent, knowledgable woman is threatening their domination is appaling every time I see it. But it’s not just that: something about Kim’s style and taste just gets people riled up. We saw it first-hand when Kim penned her Necrolust column for MetalSucks for several years, and we continue to see it today from her 17,000 Twitter followers (try and name another metal writer that has even CLOSE to that amount). A nazi black metal band looks in my general direction once and I feel like giving up and quitting, while Kim is subjected to that bullshit — and way worse — every. single. fucking. day. and bulldozes right through it like the pillar of strength she is.

And that’s a damn good thing, too, because if Kim decided to quit no one could ever come close to filling her role in our scene, and we’d all be way worse off for it. Kim Kelly is a truly irreplaceable member of the metal community.

#25: Mark Riddick
#24: Robb Flynn
#23: Rob Scallon

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