January 22, 2013

41 Things Every Metalhead Should do Before they Die

Metalheads 101, Tr00 Metal Life


… because even metalheads need a bucket list.

Despite the title of this post, doing or not doing any of these things does not make you more or less of a metalhead. It’s meant to be for shits and giggles, and I’d love to hear any more ideas you might have in the comments.

1. Be Front Row at a Concert

I used to be obsessed with getting to the bar at every gig I went to. This takes some serious dedication, often involving showing up an hour early to be first through the door, then waiting right by the internal doors till these opened, then running blindly into the darkness in the hope I might land front row centre. It was worth all the extra hassle. I was front row centre for Nick Cave, for Opeth, for Black Label Society, Arch Enemy and Apocalyptica. I once waited seven hours in the mosh pit at Big Day Out, hanging on through the Black Eyed Peas, Muse and the Dandy Warhols, to be front row centre when Metallica played. That was pretty awesome.

Yes, you get crushed to death. Yes, you feel like your ribcage is stuck in a vice. Yes, if you’re stuck in front of some dickheads you may even get groped – and this is not exclusive to chicks, etiher. But to be there, right there, right in the sweet spot, it’s a pretty special experience.

2. Get a Tattoo

Go to any metal festival and you’re likely to spend a disproportionate amount of time staring in wonder and envy at the glorious ink on display. With our love of bold, intricate album covers and t-shirt designs, it’s no surprise metalheads are connoisseurs of fine tattoos. Plus, they do look badass.

I must confess that I only got my first tattoo last year, and it’s quite tiny (an eye of horus on my left shoulder. This isn’t because I don’t like tattoos, but rather because I knew that once I started, I wouldn’t want to stop, and I have only so much decorating surface and too many ideas. This proved to be very true, as I’m going back in Feb to get another one done.

3. Sing Karaoke

There’s nothing more metal than embarrassing yourself in front of a huge crowd of people. (Actually, there are many things more metal than embarrassing yourself in front of a huge crowd of people, but some of them aren’t as fun). Whether you choose to enter a metal karaoke competition at a festival or club, or bring your own unique vocals to a friday night Singstar session at your mate’s place, karaoke is something all metalheads should be able to admit to attempting.

I have done karaoke exactly once in my life. I went with two friends to our student bar because a local metal band I loved was playing. But the band had obviously shown up earlier in the night, seen exactly no one who looked like they were there to see them, and buggered off. So there we were, dressed for a metal gig in the middle of a crowd of drunk engineers singing karaoke. So we got up and did Metallica’s rendition of “Whisky in the Jar” – the only remotely metal song on the list. My mate Vitesh can actually sing, so he took care of most of the vocals, while the other chick did some backing, and I raced around the stage doing air guitar and managed to throw a couple of epicly impressive growls into the mic. We had half the room up headbanging. It was hilarious. Turns out we won a prize, but we didn’t stick around to collect it.

4. Be an Elitist at the CD Store

You know what I’m talking about. When you visit your local music shop, peruse the music selection and let out a loud exasperated sigh, followed by a diatribe directed at the store for neglecting to stock some seminal album, or complaints about the location of metal albums in the “indie” corner.

Even generally nice people like me are guilty of music store elitism. My pet hate was non-metal bands stacked in the metal section of my local Real Groovy store. Every time I went in, I would dump all the Linkin Park CDs over in the “alternative” section, often with the Limp Bizkit albums for good measure. Metalheads seem particularly prone to this kind of behavior – it’s a wonder they keep stocking our section, for all the extra re-stocking time we cost.

5. Go to Wacken Open Air

It’s not called “The Holy Land of Metal” for nothing. And yes, some of the recent lineups haven’t been as spectacular as previous years, and maybe you feel you’d rather go to a festival catering for one specific subgenre rather than a mix of styles, but Wacken is SO not just about the lineup. I’ve been to other festivals and you just cannot beat the atmosphere at Wacken. It is something special, even more so if you have to come from 12 000 miles away …

In saying that, the next festival on our list is 70 000 Tons of Metal, and I’m told as festivals go, this one tops even WOA.

6. Learn a Metal Language

You know … German, Norwegian, Orcish …

Reasons why this is essential: 1. You can create your own unpronounceable song titles. 2. You can create your own unpronounceable screen name. 3. You can impress girls. 4. You can communicate with metalheads from other parts of the world. 5. You can impress foreign girls. 6. You can finally learn what Finntroll are really singing about.

7. Brew Your Own Alcohol

There’s nothing more metal than sitting in your favourite armchair and watching the bubbles rise in your own 30L tub of mead. Nothing. This is a scientific fact.

Here’s mine:



Over 20L of oak-infused mead ... mmmm

Over 20L of oak-infused mead … mmmm

You can buy basic starter brewing kits from most homebrew shops for about $100. I’ve never much been a fan of home-brewed beer, but mead, perry, wine, and different spirits and liquers can taste amazing with the right recipe and a bit of practice. I’m going to be writing up an extensive article on mead-brewing sometime in the coming months, for those who are interested.

8. Make a Patched Denim Vest

Even more so than a metal shirt, the patched vest defines a die-hard metal fan. These vests are works of art, cultivated over decades with patches and wristbands from shows all over the world. The denim frayed and worn see-through in some places, the stitching unravelling, the colors faded, the smells unsavory, but enduring.

If a patched vest isn’t for you, I’ve seen a lot of people re-defining the idea with patched kilts, patched bags and patched shirts. Whatever you decde to make, the concept is the same. You need patches brought from shows you’ve seen or through mail-order distros, a comfortable piece of clothing that can withstand the weight of the decorations and the rigors of the metal lifestyle, a need, thread, and some half-decent eyes. I half all of these things except the latter, which explains why I do not, as yet, own a patched vest of my own.

9. Attempt to Convert Someone to Metal

We all do it. We all have this friend who is obviously destined to be a metalhead, if only they realised it. We’ve all made a mixed CD full of songs we’re positive someone would love, or tried to tell a chick we meet at a bar that we know the perfect band for them. We know – obviously – that metal is the best, most technically brilliant, most hauntingly beautiful, most party-friendly, most dark and frostbitten genre of music out there, and we’re pretty sure this is a fact. People are bound to fall down to worship the metal gods … as soon as we educate them on the Gods existence.

We have to face facts. We can be downright insufferable when it comes to music. We don’t mean to be, and we know that once you hear this band, you’ll totally understand why …

10. Read a Rockstar Biography

Every metalhead, at some point in their life, has dreamed of being a rockstar. The fame, drugs, fans, sex and hotel room antics have an allure that just won’t die. But we can’t all be world famous musicians, so we can live vicariously though our idols by way of books and documentaries about their lives. That way, we get to learn in excruciating detail just what we’re missing out on.

Some I can recommend are: Life, by Keith Richards; Tommyland, Tommy Lee; Appetite for Destruction, Danny Sugarman; The Dirt, Motley Crue; Bringing Metal to the Children: The Complete Bezerker’s Guide to World Tour Domination, by Zakk Wyle and Eric Hendrikx; Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir, by Joseph Layden and Dave Mustaine; It’s So Easy, and other lies, Duff McKagan; Bloody Reign of Slayer, by Joel McIver;

11. Write a CD Review

Whether it’s for a national magazine, a student newspaper, or a metal blog (Steff Metal – currently accepting submissions!), have a go at reviewing an album. Writing a review is a fascinating exercise in attempting to distill exactly what you do and do not like about music. Your first review will likely be crap, but you get better the more you write.

I find album reviews the most difficult to write of all the articles I post on this site, but I’m doing them more often, so I think I’m getting better.

12. Learn to Use a Weapon

Metal is all about standing up for what you believe in, right? Well, you can’t stand up for yourself if you’re a wuss. Learning a martial art isn’t about knowing how to kick someone’s ass, it’s about learning self-control, self-discipline, and strength, inside and out.

I am the biggest wuss on the planet – seriously – and I’m also blind, and I studied Goju Ryu karate for three-and-a-half years, did a bit of jiu jitsiu, know how to shoot a gun and am quite nifty with a bow and arrow, and have spent the last two years learning Historical European Martial Arts – namely, the two-handed longsword.

13. Give Your Pet a Metal Name

All over the world, there are cats named “Lucifer” and “Quorthorn” . Dogs named “Varg” and “Odin” and ferrets named “Ozzy.” Your pets deserve a name worthy of their status as your metal minions.

Bonus points if you give your kid a metal name.

14. Spend a ridiculous amount of money on rare/limited edition CDs

You know the kind – limited edition dual hard-cases albums of bands you only kinda like, battered vinyl copies of Black Metal from ebay, or obscure back catelogues from seedy cupboard CD stores, sometimes you have to have them, no matter the cost.

15. Accuse Someone of Selling Out

Not necessarily to their face (Steff Metal accepts no responsibilitiy for injuries or court-cases sustained from following the advice in this article), but sometimes, we have to take a stand for true metal.

16. Buy an album on Vinyl

Even if you don’t own a vinyl player. Because that is SO not the point. And yes, I do own a Ride the Lightning limited edition picture disc on vinyl.

17. Learn an Instrument

Even if, nay, especially if, like me, you are crap at music. Learning an instrument gives you an added dimension of appreciation of just how awesome musicians (and particularly metal musicians) really are. Read about my adventures learning the guitar and 10 tips for learning the guitar here.

18. Write a Fan Letter

Everyone likes being told how awesome they are, even surly, long haired metalheads. So if a band’s music has helped you through the rough times, write them a letter to say thanks. Even if they don’t write back, you will have made them smile, just like they make you smile.

19. Get Flamed on a Metal Forum

Metal forum posters are one of the strangest communities on earth. They function soley on the premise of enforcing a creed of unspoken, un-agreed-upon rules. Join at your peril, but know that the only reason someone can come up with a two-page essay on why Finntroll should NOT be included in a list of influential folk metal bands is because they have too much spare time.

20. Grow your hair long

Metal heads and long hair go together like … two things that go together.

21. Make a Metal Sandwich

Style of bread and fillings are up to you. The only rules of metal sandwich creation stipulate it must be an EPIC sandwich – ie; so tall you can barely take a bite out of it. My personal favorite metal sandwich involves my own homemade bread, a bit of lettuce and tomato, and a huge slab of pork topped with apple slices fried in the pork juices.

Give your sandwich a metal name. Mine is the Appleopolictika.

23. Have a Fanboy (or Fangirl) Moment

I’ll never forget the day Nile played in NZ and my mate Tim fawned over George Collias, trapping the poor dude in a corner and babbling at a hundred miles a minute. The poor guy looked like a deer trapped in headlights. See also, the time I interviewed Nightwish and said so many dodgey things … or the time I met Nick Cave …

24. Have a Grymm and Epic Photoshoot


Johnowar (Avebury, England)

Just you, some friends, your most kvlt t-shirts, and a suitably epic location, such as a forest or the remains of an ancient castle. Let that long hair fly!

You can bring along some props like goat skulls, swords and axes, or just stand with your arms folded and look pissed off.

It really helps if you have a friend with some skill in photography to take the shots. The aim is to make your shot look like the inner sleeve of an album, although unless you’re in a band, it’s probably going to end up as your Facebook profile pic.

25. Use Metal Words in Conversation

Have you heard kids these days say “lol” in conversation. They actually say lol or wtf – it’s insane. But you are no pimply teenager, you are metal. Add some krieg and nekro in there. Bonus point if they’re on your Resume.

26. Synchronised Windmilling

Best done at a local show with a smaller crowd and more space. Line everyone up and get everyone to start spinning on queue. If you’e ever being in the midst of this craziness, with hair flying everywhere and necks snapping in all directions, (it’s a chiropractor’s wet dream), you’ll know just how awesome it is.

27. Fall in Love with a Metalhead

Having dated non-metalheads and finally married the Cantankerous Drummer Husband, I gotta say there’s nothing like being able to share the mosh pit with your beloved and never fight over the car stereo.

28. Go to a Local Show

I know a lot of metalheads who see every international show that comes into town – even bands they don’t really like – but haven’t heard some of the talended groups playing down at their local for a fiver. Local shows have a unique vibe all of their own, are filled with serious, dedicated headbangers, and are a great place to meet folks and make new friends. They’re also a hell of a cheap night out.

29. Form a Band

Yes, even if you can’t play any instruments. When I was at university, I formed my own all-female kvlt black metal band called The Eldritch Sons of Lucifer. We had a website and a banner and album art and everything, but our songs were so underground no one had actually heard them, including ourselves.

30. Party in a Hotel Room

Live the rock star dream for a night. Fill up all the available vessals with alcohol, sleep in the bath, jump on the bed and write satanic shaving cream messages on the mirror. Just remember that unless you’re Axl Rose, if you trash anything, you’re going to have to pay for it.

(We didn’t trash anything partying with Alestorm, but we did make a pyrex jug of doom.)

31. Go on an Epic road trip

You could travel 12 hours to see your favourite band play, or drive for six weeks across America taking in the sights. Road trips are metal – the dingy hotels or sleeping bags in the car, the greasy food and salty snacks, the soundtrack, the hours of conversation about nothing in particular. To be even more epicly metal, rent an awesome car, or even a motorbike.

Here’s an article I wrote on the ingredients for the perfect New Zealand road trip.

32. Plan Your Funeral Soundtrack

Morbid – yes. Essential – yes. Do you want people to be sobbing and singing Amazing Grace or do you want them drinking beer and singing along to Reign in Blood? You’re also probably going to want to let someone know which metal shirt you’d like to be buried in.

My tracks:
Hammerfall – Home of the Brave
Manowar – Heart of Steel
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – the Ship Song

33. Attend a metal show in a strange location

This includes abandoned buildings, sheds, house parties, cliff tops, and the middle of the forest.

34. Categorize your Music Collection

I wrote a whole article on how metalheads love categorizing their music collections. I used to do mine by the second letter of the artist’s name, but now I operate on the “whatever I’m listening to right now goes on top”, which is still a fundementally organized system, if you think about it.

35. Air Guitar to Your Favorite Solo

Whether that’s at home in front of the mirror, or in the middle of the mosh pit, sometimes the best way to articulate just how much you love a solo is to pretend you’re the one playing it. Tr00 air guitarists can even tell you the make and model of their axe.

36. Visit the site of a famous metal event


The most obvious one being Fantoft Stave Church in Norway, but I’m told Cliff Burton’s gravesite is also pretty popular. Personally, I’d go to Norway, and pose with some swords while I was there (see number 24). But you have to think about these things carefully, as you may end at your chosen site on the coldest day of the year, and the only hat you have to wear is a multi-coloured rastafarian beanie. Just a friendly warning – this really does happen to people.

37. Use a Drinking Horn

Why? alcohol tastes better from a horn – that’s a scientifically proven fact – and it looks awesome.

38. Graffiti on the wall of a metal club

It wouldn’t be metal without a little bit of harmless vandalism.

39. Yell “Play Some Slayer!” at a metal show.

We’ve all done it. Yes, it’s stupid, but someone has to be “that dude” – one day, it will have to be you.

Bonus points if you yell “Play Some Slayer” at a non-metal show.

40. Wear corpsepaint.

All tr00 metalheads know how to apply makeup.

41. Own an entire drawer full of black t-shirts

Folded neatly and organized by genre, obviously.

What’s on your personal metal Bucket List?

The Sunken, my dark fantasy novel, is now available on Amazon.

Want updates on the blog and when new books are coming out? Want free books before they hit the market? Sign up for the mailing list.

Leave a Reply