The 25 Most Important People in Metal: #4, Monte Conner
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.
Elsewhere on this list, we’ve discussed how little love the men and women who do A&R often receive for their contributions to metal. But everyone knows who Monte Conner is. He’s one of the few people whose inclusion on this list was a foregone conclusion from the moment of its inception.
He is, simply put, the most successful A&R dude in the history of metal.
His twenty-five-year tenure at Roadrunner Records is the stuff of legends. He is one of the primary reasons death metal ever took off and expanded beyond VFW halls and some kids’ garages, having signed Suffocation, Deicide, Obituary, Immolation, Gorguts, Pestilence, Malevolent Creation, Exhorder, Atrocity, and Cynic long before anyone knew who the hell those bands were. Other, non-DM acts he worked with right from the start of their careers include Slipknot, Machine Head, Fear Factory, Trivium, Life of Agony, Annihilator, Chimaira, and DevilDriver.
Meanwhile, although they got their start elsewhere, he also brought artists such as Type O Negative, Rush, Gojira, Jerry Cantrell, CKY, and Earth Crisis to the label.
He did A&R on Sepultura’s Holy Quadrilogy (Beneath the Remains, Arise, Chaos A.D., and Roots), King Diamond’s most beloved album (Abigail), Death’s Symbolic, Opeth’s Heritage, Dream Theater’s Black Clouds & Silver Lininings and A Dramatic Turn of Events, and the first four Stone Sour albums.
The biggest blemish on his Roadrunner resumé is Coal Chamber, and Coal Chamber sold a fuckton of records in their day, so they’re a pretty small blemish, all things considered. (Worth noting: he had nothing to do with the Coal Chamber reunion album.)
After parting ways with Roadrunner in 2012, Monte partnered with Nuclear Blast. Unsurprisingly, several of his most impressive Roadrunner signees, including Machine Head and Soulfly, followed him. Also unsurprisingly, he’s had no shortage of impressive signings since, including Suicide Silence, Nails, Fallujah, Killer Be Killed, Devil You Know, and Ghost Bath.
Monte’s career, in other words, is unparalleled. He’s the A&R guy all A&R guys aspire to be. Scores of people reading this at the time of its publication would never have gotten into metal in the first place without the records he worked on… and evidence strongly suggests that scores of people reading this years and years after the time of its publication will also never have gotten into metal in the first place without the records he worked on. What would metal be without him? We hope we never find out.
THE LIST SO FAR
#25: Mark Riddick
#24: Robb Flynn
#23: Rob Scallon
#22: Kim Kelly
#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
#10: Corey Taylor
#9: Jose Mangin
#8: Monica Seide-Evenson
#7: Albert Mudrian
#6: Borivoj Krgin
#5: Sharon Osbourne