The 25 Most Important People in Metal: #16, Misha Mansoor

  • Axl Rosenberg

 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. 

If we were to play a word-association game with Misha Mansoor’s name, the words which would immediately come to my mind would be “apex” and “epitome.” Mansoor’s inclusion on this list was a given from the moment the project was conceived.

Why? Well, since you asked…

As we noted when we named him one of The Best Guitarists in Modern Metal back in 2011, Misha Mansoor is arguably the musician who best personifies the phrase “modern metal” at this point in history.

The thirty-two-year-old guitar god’s playing absorbs and reinterprets a large variety of metal guitar techniques from throughout the genre’s history — it’s clear that his playing is not just the result of the work done by Tony Iommi or Eddie Van Halen or James Hetfield or Dimebag or Fredrik Thordendal (to name but a few), but, rather, is the result of the work done by Tony Iommi AND Eddie Van Halen AND James Hetfield AND Dimebag AND Fredrik Thordendal. Mansoor’s playing is the culmination of all the work done before him; thus, he is as excellent a representation of the latest stage of heavy metal guitar’s evolution as you’re likely to find. Little wonder that he was ostensibly the tip of the spear for the now-omnipresent djent subgenre.

That fact would obviously be impressive in and of itself, but just as noteworthy is Mansoor’s rise to prominence, and what he represents to metal as an art form. Mansoor will go down in metal history as one of this century’s earliest, and best, so-called “bedroom producers.” Technology has finally reached a place where young musicians can make great-sounding recordings on a relatively low budget, and then share that music with the world, even if they don’t have a label (tape trading on steroids). Mansoor wisely exploited both of these advances to his benefit — he made killer music in his bedroom (literally) and shared it with other musicians via message boards. He was a viral sensation before he was a traditional sensation, the embodiment of a path to success that simply did not exist as recently as fifteen years ago. This being the case, he and his band, Periphery, have become an inspiration for a whole generation of musicians. I obviously have no idea what technological and cultural changes are coming in the future, but there’s a good chance Misha and Periphery will continue to be an inspiration for the generation after this one, too.

Mansoor’s place in contemporary metal culture is due, at least in some part, to luck — he was the right age at the right time and the right place to achieve his current position. But you should never discount his talent, his work ethic, or the fact that he seems to have his finger super-glued to the pulse of metal. Like I said: his place on this list was always a given.

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

#22: Kim Kelly
#21: Fenriz
#20: Rob Halford

#19: Ash Avildsen
#18: Steve Joh

#17: Karim Peter

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