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The 25 Most Important People in Metal: #2, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich

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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.

If the 3rd Most Important Person in Metal, Brian Slagel, was chosen at least in part because he discovered Metallica, you can be damn sure we’d think Metallica themselves are really fucking important.

But Metallica are made up of four dudes. How to choose? Loveable crabwalker as though he is, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone make an argument for Robert Trujillo as crucial to the band’s success (although your editors certainly place high value on his technical ability, and his tenure with Ozzy). Ditto for Kirk Hammett; that he barely had any creative input on Metallica’s latest album nips that argument right in the bud.

Make no mistake about it: Metallica is the James and Lars show in equal parts, and it’s been that way for a very long time (we’ll field arguments for Cliff Burton’s importance, but certainly not moreso than James and/or Lars). It’s their creative vision, their business direction, their brainchild, their riffs, their songs. Their triumphs, their gaffes, their successes and their failures. Together, James and Lars are metal’s ultimate power couple.

Metallica are, unquestionably, the biggest metal band in the world, a distinction they will hold onto most likely forever. No band is more directly responsible for as much modern metal as they are, nearly 35 years after their inception. STILL, in 2016, it’s Metallica records that serve as so many teenagers’ gateway into metal. It’s Metallica riffs aspiring musicians plunk out on the guitar much to the detriment of their parents and guitar store employees. It’s Metallica anthems that are blaring at sports stadiums in that key moment of the game. And there’s only one metal band that can pack those same stadiums for concerts of their own anywhere on Earth: fucking Metallica.

Their legacy speaks for itself. They’re still just as relevant as ever. James and Lars did it, and they did it together. Bow down.

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
#10: Corey Taylor
#9: Jose Mangin

#8: Monica Seide-Evenson
#7: Albert Mudrian
#6: Borivoj Krgin
#5: Sharon Osbourne
#4: Monte Conner
#3: Brian Slagel

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