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The 25 Most Important People in Metal: #10, Corey Taylor

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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.

Much like our #24 pick for this list — Machine Head’s Robb Flynn — Corey Taylor is a fearless voice in metal, a genre in which too many are scared to speak out.

Unlike Flynn, Taylor happens to be the face of the second biggest metal band in the world, growing into his role as one of the most visible faces in the entire genre over his now nearly two-decade career as the frontman for Slipknot. In other words: he has a MASSIVE platform.

Corey’s position — and the responsibility that comes with it — aren’t lost on him. While he was unafraid to speak out against Trump — as any sane person would — he approached this past summer’s flare-up of the Black Lives Matter movement with the utmost class, sensitivity and poise:

To me, it’s very simple: we all matter. There is a time and a place to talk about things like that. However, we are seeing that our black friends, our black family, are being… there’s a lot of violence going against them. So what we need to do is band together with them and say, “Yes, black lives do matter.” Because all matter. And to fight for those black lives does not mean that you are saying anything against anybody else. You can back up #BlackLivesMatter and say that cops’ lives matter. It’s all the same thing. And you can have all those different ideas in the same thought. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because we do all matter.

Reading between the lines: Corey’s well aware that a segment of his fans probably aren’t on board with Black Lives Matter, but he felt compelled to speak out anyway. So rather than hold back entirely, like SO many in our community do, he approached the topic carefully and considerately. Which is something we really need in metal… hell, in the whole world. With tempers flaring on all sides, it’s important to have a rational voice in the equation, especially one with as much clout as Corey’s.

(Side note: speaking of Corey’s voice, how fucking great is it? Truly one of the best in metal, ever. The perfect mix of aggressive, sultry and soulful. His work with Stone Sour might be the best example of that.)

Corey’s gentlemanly nature is a key part of why he’s so important in metal today. It’d be easy for a man with such a high profile to act removed, pompous, walled off, but it speaks volumes of Corey’s awareness of his status as a role model that he’s anything but. In our lone personal run-in with him, he stopped by the MetalSucks booth at New York Comic Con one year (he was attending to promote his comic series with Dark Horse), told us he was a huge fan of the site, and then insisted — INSISTED! — on paying for a MetalSucks t-shirt despite our efforts to give him the one he liked for free, literally shoving cash into our hands after we’d refused over and over.

There’s his work with The You Rock Foundation, for whom he’s recorded candid videos about his experience with depression and suicidal thoughts. Corey is clearly someone who cares, and he recognizes his ability to leverage his position for the greater good.

And there’s also this, simple as though it may be: Slipknot are one of the biggest bands in the world. By virtue of that alone, he’s important. If he says something, everyone listens.

But it’s about so much more than that, of course. Corey is a thinker, an artist, an author, a leader. Above all, he’s a positive role model in a scene that has very few, and a fearless voice in our community.

THE LIST SO FAR
#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
#16: Misha Mansoor

#15: Dan Rozenblum
#14: Joey Sturgis

#13: Randy Blythe
#12: Amy Sciarretto
#11: Dimebag Darrell

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