The World of MusicVivian Nakani-Maisuradze

Guitarist and singer of Legion

a character in “Metal Gods”, as played by RolePlayGateway

Factions, Families, Clans, and Empires

Description

Name: Vivian Nakani-Maisuradze. Of course, the vast majority of people find her last name very difficult to grapple with, so fans and others will typically shorten it to ‘Vivian N.K.’, or just use ‘Nakani’ since it tend to be the more stomachable of the two. One of her biggest pet peeves is people mis-pronouncing her surname, or thinking that the surname ‘Nakani’ is Japanese (it’s not), but she refuses to change it or shorten it officially. Friends, or those close to her, can simply refer to her as ‘Viv’.

Birthdate: She was born April 12, 1985, and is therefore twenty six years old.

Role: Vivian is the vocalist and co-lead guitarist of technical death metal band Legion. She never received any real formal training for her voice (and as a consequence damaged her voice in her early efforts, as she lacked knowledge of the actual techniques). Similarly, she is a largely self-taught guitarist, and learnt largely by listening to whatever it was she was trying to play over and over again until she (thought she) got it right. As such, she learnt several things completely wrong (such as the way she holds her pick, which is considered incorrect as it makes double picking more difficult), and essentially got used to playing the guitar incorrectly, though it is indistinguishable now from ‘correct’ techniques. She also has some experience and skill with bass guitar.

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Appearance: In terms of appearance, people tend to find it difficult to determine Vivian’s ethnical background; indeed, it is generally guessed from her appearance that she is Japanese, which irritates her to no end because she isn’t even Asian. She’s ethnically Georgian, but the fact is that most people don’t even know what a Georgian looks like; it doesn’t really help that Georgians are extremely diverse in terms of appearance, with some resembling Asians, others appearing Hispanic, and some who could be mistaken to be Middle-Eastern. Ultimately, her appearance is reflective of her parents’ origins in Eastern Georgia.

At her full height, Vivian stands at about 189 cm tall (about six feet two inches), which is confessedly rather tall for a woman, a fact she is well aware of. Height has always been characteristic of her, and she has always used it to her advantage. Similarly, her strong, firm build seems atypical for a woman—lean, powerful muscles are visible across her arms and abdomen, indicative of considerable upper body strength; she maintains her strength through a daily exercise routine, so that nobody gets the impression that she’s weak. As far as her facial features, Vivian possesses sharp, defined features, indicative of her heritage, with high, prominent cheekbones, a small, slightly pointed nose, and thin, dark lips. These features lend an attractive touch to her countenance, though years of cigarette and alcohol abuse have taken their toll on her features, and leave in their wake vestiges of a former beauty. Her eyes are a dark brown colour, with the hue of darkened rosewood, and vaguely almond-shaped. Her hair, on the other hand, in its natural state, is a lustrous black sheen, straight in tendency and falling to around her chest; however, Vivian has never let her hair remain in its natural state, opting to style it into dreadlocks and highlighting it with red and orange streaks. Due to her longterm altering of her hair, the lustrous black has dulled to a faded sort of black tone.

The entirety of her upper body is covered in tattoos, of various kinds. Many are related to Egyptian mythology, which is a passion of hers; examples include the large, flaming ankh on her left bicep, an Eye of Horus on the back of each hand, an Uraeus on her lower back, and the words ‘I have hidden myself amongst the never-setting stars’, from the Spell for Not Dying Again, in the Papyrus of Ani, tattooed in very small print at the nape of her neck. Anyone who asks as to the meaning of any of her tattoos will receive a full, undiluted explanation as to the myths and texts behind each one. Other tattoos relate to her favourite bands, such as the Motörhead War Pig on her right bicep, or the Obituary tattoo across her right forearm; she also has one of Death's original logo (in red) at her collarbone, Deicide's '666' on the bicep above her Obituary tattoo, and countless others. The first tattoo she ever got was a tattoo of the Georgian letters for 'ert'i' ('one') tattooed across the knuckles of her right hand; she did it herself when she was thirteen years old, followed soon by the 'ZOSO' tattoo across the knuckles of her left, in reference to Jimmy Page.

In terms of attire, Vivian gravitates towards typical metalhead/crust punk fare. You'll usually find her wearing a band tee with the sleeves torn off, showcasing any one of her favourite groups from Motörhead to Cynic, Death to Nile, Deicide to Carcass; over this will usually go her beloved leather jacket, which is covered with patches from various punk and metal bands, and studs and spikes, as well as some rips and tears she has shabbily sewn back together. As far as her lower body, Vivian often dons a pair of good old durable jeans, and then a pair of leather harness boots. She tops the image off with a copper bullet belt (in essence, a belt made of gunpowder-less casings worn around the waist, popular with punks and metalheads), spiked wrist bands, and chains, perfecting an image of extreme metal. She does not and has not ever owned a dress or a skirt. Nor does she plan on it.
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Personality: Vivian is without a doubt a very difficult person to get along with, and an even more difficult person to get to know and truly understand. She is an abrasive and rough woman; she tosses about swear words and curses as casually as adjectives and verbs, and she’ll turn a verbal disagreement painfully physical at the drop of a dime simply out of what she perceives as a need to protect her pride and dignity, whether it be concerning herself, her culture, her style of playing, or her band. Her sense of humour is dry and sardonic, with a heavy dose of pessimism, and sometimes insulting to those around her if they aren’t used to her biting sarcasm in the first place. Vivian is also highly averse to anything she perceives as an attempt to control her or exert authority over her, as she is a fiercely independent and self-reliant woman. She has a love of the ‘fast life’ that never seems to abate, from the drugs to the loud music to the alcohol, she does it all and never slows down—in relation, she loves motorcycles, and owns a Harley Davidson chopper. Unfortunately, she is as a result heavily addicted to cigarettes and alcohol, to the point where she goes nowhere without at least two packs of smokes on her, and is literally capable of drinking two eight packs of beer and barely feeling it the next morning—and in times of great stress she will resort to harder drugs. She doesn’t seem to care about her drug issues nor her dangerous lifestyle, claiming that she will live however the hell she wants and that she enjoys her lifestyle.

Under these layers of careless living, casual drug abuse, and apparent joy in the fast life is a very different person—a far more conflicted and vulnerable person. Vivian realises that the way she is living her life, she’s likely to end up dead in a hotel room with a syringe in her arm and no one to care, probably before she makes it to thirty years old. But at this point, it’s like a high-speed roller coaster where the track eventually cuts off—Vivian believes that the drugs are the only things that can keep her mind from wandering to all the things she sees wrong with herself and the world, and that if she ‘gets off the roller coaster’ at this speed she will suffer just as much, if not more. She is headed straight for self-destruction, and consciously or subconsciously, she knows it. Vivian is plagued by fears, sorrows, despairs, and anger exacerbated by her use of drugs and lack of connection to others: they have festered within her, as she has never truly had an outlet for them besides her music, refusing to grant her peace and calm for a moment. At this point, she hardly remembers the pain that first drove her to begin using drugs because it has become mired with many other pains that are only intensified by the drugs that she previously used as an escape from reality, a way of dealing with stress and sadness. Though she's never told anyone, Vivian was diagnosed as having inherited a genetic proclivity for major depressive order and passive-aggressive behavioural disorder from her mother, and from a young age began to display some of the symptoms. Her abrasive and wholly unpredictable personality mirrors her fear of personal pain and abandonment--Vivian has convinced herself that if she keeps others at arms length with her wild and aggressive attitude, she can avoid making connections, and thereby the pain of the inevitable severance of those connections. She has come to fear the pain of losing those she loves and cherishes, and believes that by avoiding true friendship and love she can remain untouched by this grief.

Vivian has had several relationships--with both men and women--over the years. However, her 'intimate romances' tend to have more in the way of intimacy, and less in the way of actual romance. As she says it, "A good relationship is like fireworks: loud, explosive, and liable to maim you if you hold on too long". In other words, the majority of her relationships last for a month or so at the maximum, and exist mostly for the temporary, fleeting pleasure of sex rather than the actual, true happiness of love. Again, this is because of her fear of losing those whom she loves--instead of risking that pain, she would rather just accept momentary, fleeting happiness. She's long since forgotten what it feels like to be with someone because she genuinely loved and enjoyed being with them on a personal level rather than simply physical pleasure...she isn't sure she remembers what it was like to actually fall in love without being afraid of the consequences of it.


Background: Vivian claims that she was born in the province of Kakheti in Georgia, and that she immigrated to the US at age sixteen with her family. According to her, she had a falling out with her parents very soon after the family moved from Georgia, and left home to begin her career as a professional musician.

In actuality, she was born to two Georgian immigrants who had immigrated at a relatively young age to the US with their own families and, despite their financial destitution, fell in love at the callow age of seventeen. Their relationship progressed rapidly—too rapidly, it would seem, and it is likely that it was that impatience and their inexperienced passion that led to what would occur later in their lives. By eighteen, the woman was pregnant with a daughter, and as a result Vivian’s parents chose to get married at that point. Despite their poverty-stricken status and their consequential residence in one of the worst slums of their city, they were optimistic—and drastically unprepared for the true stress of the outside world and raising a child in that world.

Especially when that child was Vivian.

From the very beginning, Vivian proved a bellicose and difficult child, at home and at school—and very unstable. When she was dropped off at school on the very first day of kindergarten, Vivian cried the whole time because she believed her parents were trying to get rid of her and that they were going to leave her there forever. After that, the phone calls from school began coming in—Vivian was flatly refusing to do assignments, calling them stupid, she blatantly flouted the rules and instructions of the teacher and the school, and she reacted with sheer antagonism to attempts to exert authority over her, or to communicate with her. Later, teachers told her parents that Vivian was bullying the other kids when they tried to talk to her or get her to play with them, and was known to shove and punch kids that she thought were making fun of her or insulting her when they were only talking to her. Her grades began to fail, not necessarily because she was stupid—in fact, it was noted that when she did decide to do an assignment, or when she took an interest in something, she could be remarkably quick-minded. The issue became that she simply didn’t care about school, and didn’t give a fuck enough to really try. Her parents’ relationship, previously one of love and harmony, deteriorated and soured. Young and inexperienced as they were, they began to bicker, argue, and then shout and yell at one another--why did Vivian have to be so damn difficult? What was wrong with her? Whose fault was it? Deep down, Vivian, even as a child, knew she was the cause of it, locked in her room because she hoped that if her parents didn't see her they'd forget about what was happening and maybe things would get better. But she couldn't stop being the belligerent, violent, antagonistic delinquent she had already become even as a child--in fact, the domestic troubles made it only all the worse. It was uncommon that the yelling would turn towards her, but it did happen at times--but most of all it was her parents yelling at one another that truly made a mark on the child, because she knew she had started it all off. In the end her father decided he didn't want to deal with her or her mother anymore, and when she was twelve, he up and left--at least, that's what her mother told her. At any rate, when she came home from school that day, he was gone, and she grew up hating him because she believed he'd abandoned them both. However, the fact is that deep down, she is intensely guilty, because she believes she ruined her parents’ relationship, that she is responsible for her father’s departure, and that therefore, she is responsible for what happened to her mother.

From then on, it got no better. They were forced to move to a tiny, rundown apartment, and even then could barely hold onto that. She remained the delinquent she had become, and eventually her mother just stopped trying to change that—eventually, her mother just stopped caring about anything at all, and became mired in drugs that made her verbally and physically abusive towards her daughter. She became a husk, a shell of a human, and any interactions with her daughter were either nonsensical rambling, or curse-laden shouting matches. However, Vivian still recalls and treasures those few moments in which her mother was lucid and capable of coherently thinking—in which they could actually talk. They were few and far between, but they were precious to her.

As she went through the years of her adolescence, Vivian was witness to many people simply disappearing from her life, one way or another. When she was only eight years old, her only friend at the time disappeared, and she never found out the true reason--that he had been killed in the midst of a drive-by shooting between two local gangs. Such patterns repeated themselves as she matured--friends and loved ones disappeared, moved on, departed, leaving her behind. Each time her connection to someone was so quickly removed, it brought about pain and sadness, causing Vivian to eventually come to the conclusion that in order to avoid such pain she had to ensure she never made such connections in the first place. From that time on, she became even more reserved than ever, reacting with hostility and rejection to attempts to interact with her from just about anyone. As a result of her self-imposed lack of contact with others, Vivian began to use cigarettes, easily accessible to a young teenager in that area, to relieve stress and anger, progressively getting into other drugs such as alcohol when cigarettes began to lose their effectiveness. Drugs would continue to play a significant role in her life from then on, as she eventually was never to be found without a pack or two of cigarettes on her at any given time. At the same time, Vivian sank into the poverty-stricken, destitute underworld that existed in the slums their apartment was located in, getting into fights constantly, and in general making life all the worse for herself.

It was around this time, or shortly before, Vivian began to discover music--specifically, rock music, and then metal. She can't remember how it was she got that first CD--Motörhead's 'Overkill'. But she does remember that from the second the double bass drums kicked in, and then the bass, and the guitars, Vivian had found something she'd never had before--a feeling she couldn't describe. But for a moment, while, as Lemmy Kilmister sang in the song, "when the music's good and loud", everything that was going on in the world around her just didn't matter. From there, it was just a matter of going through more and more CDs, more and more bands, more and more styles. She went from Judas Priest, to Megadeth, to Deicide, to Nile, to Carcass--from heavy metal, to thrash, to death metal, to grindcore, to crust punk, and beyond, her musical taste evolving and giving her something to feel beyond the desperation of the situation. The abrasive, distorted guitars, heavy assault of bass drum beats, and furious, vicious vocals, they all appealed to Vivian; it was like all the rage, sorrow, anguish, and fear she had been feeling all those years suddenly was put into a form she could hear, understand, relate to. She never expected that she’d actually ever play the music she loved, but just listening to it, life suddenly grew brighter.

It became a lifeline. If not for that one Motörhead CD, all those years ago, maybe she would have lost hope and perished long before she had a chance to make it out of that life. Maybe she would have become like her mother--a hollow, lifeless shell, a mere reflection of what might have once been a human being, driven not by soul and feeling but by alcohol and drugs. The music gave her a soul, a voice, a breath, and she never stopped listening from that day on. She scrounged together money to buy band tees and to buy new CDs—overall, she suddenly began to emerge from the destitute, angry shell she had become, and realised that she was steadily beginning to find happiness in her life.

Of course, I'm sure you're all expecting the all-too-cliche 'BUT ONE DAY...'. Sadly, I must indulge this cliche--but read on.

One day, listening to the vicious assault of Carcass's 'Corporal Jigsore Quandary' through an old CD player she had managed to scrape money together for, she returned home. She was almost eighteen years old, in her last year in high school (when she felt compelled to attend, anyway), at the time. She walked into the apartment, the lights dim, casting the rooms in an ominous shadow. That wasn't altogether unusual. Her mother didn't tend to bother with lights when she was too busy drinking, smoking, or injecting herself into a mindless stupor.

Her mother wasn't in the main room, so Vivian called out--when she got no reply, she knew it already. Her mother was passed out. Probably on the floor again. Which meant Vivian would have to pick her up out of another pool of alcohol and rest her on her bed so that she wouldn't seem completely lacking in...any kind of dignity at all.

She walked into her mother's bedroom--it was just as dark as the rest of the apartment, of course. The reek of alcohol and smoke was heavy in the air. She flipped a lightswitch, and was greeted with a familiar sight. Her mother was sprawled across the bed (for once, Vivian noted irately, on the bed, and not the ground), surrounded by bottles of beer and cigarette butts that had been tossed aside. A syringe was sticking out of her arm--apparently, Vivian thought with annoyance, she had passed out before removing the goddamn thing again. Figures.

She walked towards her mother, and then stopped. There was something wrong this time. The body was ashen, the skin pale and colourless, and, to the touch, so cold it was like all the frigid air of the underworld had been forced into one human shell. When Vivian pressed her hand to her neck and felt no sign of the familiar faint but present pulsing of blood, she realised her mother had overdosed and died hours ago, alone and in pain.

Her immediate thoughts afterwards, Vivian can't really remember, because she doesn't try to. She remembers being violently sick, and soon after, the blaring of police sirens, flashing red and blue lights, being led away by people she didn't know...it was all like some sort of surrealist movie, a blurry dream that one wakes up from and only remembers bits and pieces of. Except she never woke up from it, and she remembered it all, no matter how much she forced it out of her mind.

When she finally snapped out of her reverie and became fully attuned again to reality, she was living alone. The apartment was gone, but the new one was just as ratty and dishevelled. She didn't remember bringing anything here, but her CDs were stacked, almost strangely, in a neat manner, her clothes were laid out just as nicely, and there was some sparse food in the refrigerator. Her cigarettes and alcohol were gone--presumably, since she was of age to be emancipated, she had been given the choice to live on her own, and Vivian could only assume she had taken that choice over the prospect of foster families. The last few days were a blur to her. Somehow, she had gone from the room with her mother's corpse in it to this unfamiliar place; somehow, she had gone from feeling horrifically sick to almost hopelessly empty.

Piecing her life and her self back together after that became Vivian's priority. She was dangerously close to devolving into what her mother had become in her last few years of...not life, but existence: a shell. But she had music; she had something her mother had never had, and she could feel that feeling that her mother had never felt in time to save herself. That made all the difference. Because Vivian never again felt that empty feeling. All she had to do was turn on the music. Even if it became overwhelming sadness, despair, sorrow, rage, angst, it never again became that overbearing, crushing emptiness that Vivian had felt for one moment--and which her mother had felt for years before succumbing to it.

After a while, Vivian decided to start learning guitar, thinking it might help her get past everything. She never expected it to become anything more than escapism because she never expected herself to ever be able to play maybe a few power chords, but certainly nothing like the records she listened to and longed to replicate. She went and bought a rather cheap electric guitar with a little amplifier, and brought it back home, and began to play.

From the moment her pick hit the strings (well, the second time, because the first time all she did was drop the pick and make a weird noise) she knew something was about to happen. All she had done was play an open E, and even then she hit the note rather incorrectly, being an amateur, the sound produced wasn't that good--but it reverberated within her like nothing else.

From then on, it was playing guitar, from the moment she woke up to the moment, her eyes underlined with the strains of lack of sleep and her entire body screaming for rest, she reluctantly lowered her guitar and dragged herself to bed. It was an addiction stronger than any cigarette she'd ever smoked and any alcohol she'd ever drank. And she got to be exceptionally good at it, in her own way--having never received lessons and learnt purely on her own and by observing guitarists at concerts she went to, Vivian learnt several things, like how to hold a pick, completely wrong, but she got used to it, and figured out her own way to make it work. And it did work—very well. She put all her soul and heart into it, and the results astounded even her when she discovered she was more than capable of playing the music she had always loved.

Eventually, Vivian realised she could take this skill, and do something with it. Do something besides infuriate the neighbours, that is, entertaining though that was.

It was the summer of 2005, aged twenty, when Vivian first joined a band. And then joined another. And then another. In rapid succession, one after the other. Her extraordinarily bellicose attitude and domineering persona outweighed her guitar skills for many, and her stints with most bands were short-lived, either because the band quickly decided to kick her out, or because she herself got fed up and quit. Only one band did she manage to remain in for very long--for an entire year, in fact. But she prefers not to recall that period--and indeed, ultimately, she left that band behind as well, for reasons she doesn't altogether want to think of. Back to square one, Vivian ended up piss drunk in a bar, wondering whether there was any band out there that could be taken in a direction she desired, before it hit her (so hard she promptly fell off her barstool and slammed her face on the bar on the way down, but that aside). Start her own band, of course! With her own band...she could take it anywhere she wanted, make it anything she wanted--it'd be hers. And the idea carried over even after she...well, wasn't drunk, which meant it had to be a good idea.

Vivian put out advertisements in the local music section of the paper, and put up pamphlets in the local music store's billboard; a band was being formed. The genre was death metal (what else?) and she wanted good musicians to come and audition. The whole time she had no idea what was going to happen--or if she was even doing it right. Maybe no one would show up. Maybe no one would even take the little tags with her phone number on it, maybe no one would show any interest at all. Then it'd be back to irritating the shit out of the neighbours whilst cycling through an endless series of bands that either didn't satisfy her or ended up fed up with her. Good times.

But then, people did start to respond. She was getting people eager to audition, eager for a chance to be in a band--just as eager as she was to lead a band of her own. In the end, she chose those whom she deemed most technically skilled, those whom she thought could play the fastest, the roughest, the most viciously, and yet be capable of sophisticated, skilled playing as well. Each person was, in essence, a prodigy in their own right. Vivian chose to take up the mantle of singing as well, though she had relatively little experience with it; she adopted her own unique style that makes her sound...well, you'll read below. The band was christened 'Legion'.

That was...maybe four years ago, maybe less, maybe more. Since then Legion has become more than just a chance for Vivian to make the guitar more than a method of escapism. It became more than her. They were playing shows, writing materiel, signing a deal with a record label, writing an album, getting fans, getting people who actually liked their music. They have become one of the premier death metal bands of the metal scene, and any good metalhead knows the name of Legion.

And for the first time in years, Vivian was feeling what she thought it felt like to live and truly enjoy living.

Playing Style: Vivian is a highly technical player in the sense that much of what she plays is very difficult to replicate, using various different techniques such as pinch harmonics, tremolo and hybrid picking (which she has adapted to a heavier, more metal sound than it is usually used for), as well as sweep picking, and pick tapping. However, she does not consciously use these as ‘techniques’, or use them just for the sake of making her music more complicated; she finds effects and ways of playing that sound good to her, and that’s what she uses. In terms of musical style, Vivian often employs a very harsh, overdriven guitar sound, enabling each note to be heard clearly while maintaining a (in her words) 'hardcore' sound. Her style often utilises chromatic, atonal scale soloing, changes in time signature that can be either abrupt or very subtle, high-speed, palm-muted chord progressions, and minor-key shredding; Vivian utilises extremely high-speed shredding, but keeps it to very controlled, maintained patterns so that it doesn’t come off as just playing ridiculously fast for the hell of it.

In terms of vocals, Vivian forgoes the typical growls of most death metal singers in favour of an even more vicious, bestial, extremely raspy snarl that makes her sound like a rabid creature, some sort of beast fresh out of a Lovecraftian horror tale. She will sometimes sink lower to around the level of conventional death metal growls, or raise her voice to a rasped, animalistic shriek as well.

Instrument: Vivian plays an pitch black Neal Moser Morpheus utilising also various Metal Zone distortion effect pedals to give her guitar an extremely overdriven sound. She tunes the guitar to dropped A, which results in extremely heavy riffing. In addition, on some songs she has used a KxK Double-Neck Warrior V, with the upper neck having twelve strings and the lower having six; the lower neck is also tuned to dropped A, while the upper remains at standard.

Other: Vivian is a fluent speaker of Georgian. She has a very slight accent indicative of her origins in Georgia--not the country, but the state. She typically does a good job of hiding it, but the way she talks in and of itself is reflective of this heritage.

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So begins...

Vivian Nakani-Maisuradze's Story