Nerd of the Week
Meet Alexis, a Heavy Metal Nerd
Interview by Terra Olsen
What are you nerdy for?
More things than I can probably name in a short period of time. Everything from Medieval Studies to Latin to my axe throwing league to my avid interest and love of astronomy. However, I’m EXTRA nerdy about all things heavy metal.
My love of heavy metal dates back to when I was a wee lass, hardly eleven years old. I first discovered Nirvana (it’s when From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah had just come out), though I quickly discovered a slew of heavier bands, including KoRn (when they were still cool, back in 1997), Tool, Metallica and Pantera. As I reached high school, I started to delve further and further into the heavy metal world, and discovered death metal and black metal by the time I was around sixteen. As I got older, my tastes brought me to heavier and more extreme sounds.
What about Heavy Metal sparked the nerd in you?
The death metal community is home to a large number of nerds. There is quite a bit that goes with hand-in-hand with the nerd world. For instance, death metal draws heavily upon medieval lore and pagan traditions. There is an entire genre of metal, “Folk Metal”, that is based on this. Folk metal aims to incorporate Gaulish and other archaic languages, medieval instrumentation, Nordic and/or Viking costumes, drinking horns, and a strong focus on depicting the life and mentalities of battle-hardened Medieval warriors. Very nerdy; very amazing!
Black metal is a strong reaction against the westernization of Europe and aims to preserve European traditions, while also taking an avidly anti-Christian stance. It, too, often incorporates many pagan traditions into its music.
Death metal is all about being as epic as possible. You feel dark, powerful and aggressive when listening to death metal. Again, many of the themes in death metal are consistent with some of the above mentioned: a strong anti-religion stance, war, epic imagery, and here, we often see a (mis)use of Latin in lyrics and album titles. The nerd in me loves pointing out when bands get the Latin incorrect, hahaha.
How has Heavy Metal impacted your life, and how do you incorporate it into your life?
Heavy metal has been hugely formative for me, because being part of the heavy metal scene has had a huge bearing on my lifestyle. It naturally influences how you dress (my closet is mostly black), the type of music that you listen to (death metal for life, baby), the types of concerts you go to and the people who are your friends. I generally attend a concert a week, including both bigger shows and local shows. I am a huge music nut, so I start getting antsy if I don’t get some time at a gig. Local shows are important to music nerds, as the scene (whatever scene you’re into) requires support, especially as one as small as the death metal scene. Many of my friends are musicians, so I go to a lot of gigs to support them. Sometimes there are hardly a handful of people at a show, but as long as people continue to show up, and as long as bands still want to make music, the scene will survive. Support local artists, kids!
Where do you want to take Heavy Metal in the future?
I think that once metal is a part of your life, it is always a part of your life. You may not get to shows as often as you did when you were younger, and you may not wear all black every day, but it is always there. I like to always have a dark edge to the way I dress, and I love reading about the history of heavy metal (nerd status: confirmed). I regularly go on band hunts in the blogosphere so that I can keep my ear to the ground and find some of the newest bands that are emerging around the world. I can’t really envision a point in my life where music won’t be important to me, so I hope to simply continue doin’ what I’m doin’.
Any advice for others interested in exploring Heavy Metal?
If you’re interested in making your first timid foray into the world of heavy metal, hit up some metal blogs, go on YouTube and see if you can start finding some artists that you like. Once you have an idea as to the sound you like (believe me, there are about a billion sub-genres of heavy metal, each with its own distinct sound and feel), start trying to find other bands that sound similar. Another great way to find new bands is to search heavy metal music labels. If all else fails, every metalhead show know and love the Encyclopedia Metallum (www.metal-archives.com).
Favorite moment/memory involving Heavy Metal?
Hahaha, so many! The heavy metal world is pretty open and unassuming, so it’s easy to meet bands. I’ve at least met most of the bands that I like, and have partied with a few, as well. Highlight was definitely getting my boobs signed by Cannibal Corpse (yea, I said it!!!)
Alexis Fabricius graduated from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto with an MA in Medieval history (focus on Medieval magic, heresy, necromancy and the history of Satan). She works as a small business consultant within the fitness industry, helping to improve martial arts studios and small gyms by assessing their business practices, identifying what they are struggling with, and showing them how to improve things so that business owners can have a more financially viable club. Alexis holds black belts in karate and kung-fu, and with almost twenty years of experience, she is opening Toronto’s first women’s self defense company, Invicta Self-Defense (http://alexisfabricius.wix.com/home). She also teaches kickboxing and ju-jitsu privately, as well as Zumba.Do you know a self-proclaimed nerd we should interview? If so, please contact Terra at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about them.