The 25 Most Important People in Metal: #21, Fenriz
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.
Fenriz — born Gylve Fenris Nagell — would be legendary if judged solely on his musical output. Darkthrone were at the epicenter of the second wave of Norwegian black metal, and released three of the most heralded black metal albums of all time. Their new music is still well-regarded, even if it doesn’t carry the same weight as their earliest material.
But Fenriz the musician is secondary to Fenriz the metal ambassador when it comes to our choice to include him on this list. Fenriz has been a tireless champion of the underground for his entire career. Moreso than that, he’s a living embodiment of what it means to BE underground in metal. We’re pretty sure he’ll be horrified to learn of his inclusion on this very list by a horrible/mainstream/clickbait website such as MetalSucks.
But fuck it: Fenriz is as pure a metalhead as they come, a metal cultural icon that inarguably qualifies as important. His steadfastness and earnestness have in large part given rise to Internet Metal Nerds who mock those with underground tastes as trying too hard to be tr00/trve, cvlt and brvtal. Fenriz IS that guy. Except it’s not an act; he really fucking means every bit of it. He refuses to perform live, actively shies away from the spotlight — in 2004, he turned down a nomination for a Norwegian Alarm Award — and insists upon keeping his day job as a postal worker, because he believes that to pursue music full time would pollute his art.
Speaking of his job as a postal worker (not a mail deliveryman, as he clarified in a 2013 interview with MetalSucks), Fenriz views his daytime hours as much as a way to catch up on metal listening as a way to pay the bills:
It’s more like the postal industry. I never actually worked in a post office. I had to do training classes about twenty-three years ago. I delivered mail for three weeks. But that was a crash course. I’ve been working in the postal industry for twenty-four-and-a-half years. Now I work part time, twenty-seven hours a week. Through all these years I’ve done different chores. But for the past 20 years I’ve always had a headset on. If I work a seven hour shift I get to listen to seven hours of music, which is also sort of a job. It works out fine.
Sure, plenty of us jam metal all day long at our various menial jobs, but we don’t treat the act of listening as a job in and of itself. Through his Radio Fenriz podcast, his now defunct Band of the Week blog and countless other outlets, Fenriz is and has always been completely dedicated to finding the best new bands and digging out old, forgotten gems from the past. And, true to form, there is no monetary motivation; it’s all fueled by a personal desire to find the greatest music in the world and share it with the masses.
Fenriz is a metal lifer. And he’s completely right that keeping a day job without relying on his music for income makes his love of the genre even more pure: it’s why we trust him so much.