Death Metal. Probably one of the most heavily-underrated musical genres of all time. Due no doubt to the gutteral, growling vocals, complex songs structures, multiple tempo changes, shaggy hairstyles, and album covers featuring demembered bodies. Apparently, not everyone thinks dismembered bodies are cool. Or songs like “Meathook Sodomy.” I know, right? Go figure some people.
Death metal originated in the bay area with bands like Possessed and Death, and Florida’s Morbid Angel, Deicide and Obituary. 1987 saw the release of Death’s Scream Bloody Gore, considered by most to be the first “tr00” death metal album.
Although a strictly underground style, it became one of the most distinctive metal sounds to emerge from the US, enduring long after glam metal died it’s ugly, obnoxious death.
Death metal carries the flag for having the most prolific range of sub-sub- and sub-sub-sub-genres: there’s technical death metal, gore metal, melodic death metal, gothenburg death metal, blackened death, progressive death metal, death/doom, goregrind, deathgrind, deathcore, symphonic death metal, viking death metal, folkdeath, brutal death metal, brutal gore metal, brutal technical death metal, brutal melodic technical death metal with viking influences … you can see where I’m going with this …
As with all other genres, the staple of an death metal wardrobe is a decent collection of death metal t-shirts.
For some reason, unbeknownst to me, death metallers are particularly fond of long-sleeved metal shirts, and care for these highly prized possessions as they do their first born children. I’ve often wondered if this predisposition towards long sleeves has anything to do with death metallers spending more time standing around outside the club, smoking, than inside watching the band.
Death metallers like to proudly display the scars of their moshpit misadventures – so ripped, torn, patched, faded, and gourged clothing is a must. If someone asks you how your clothes got destroyed, you must launch into a story of an epic battle for the barrier of a Morbid Angel gig, or a dramatic retelling of the time Glen Benton kicked you in the head.
Death Metallers love everything horrible, gory and sick. They’re fans of cheesy B-grade horror films and those Japanese cartoons where everyone gets raped by tentacles (I’m serious, it’s like a whole film sub-genre). So if you can’t source any death metal tees, horror movie memorabilia makes a good second choice.
Other wardrobe staples include blue jeans and cargo pants in various stages of disrepair, and a decent pair of steel-capped boots.
Women in death metal tend to project an image of tomboy tough – denim and leather, tank tops and cargo pants and chains.
Since a lot of death and gore metal employs themes of dismemberment, hospital operations gone wrong (one of my fave grindcore / death metal acts Carcass do this so well), clothing inspired by nurse’s attire seems to be a favorite for the ladies.
Death is never more present than in times of war, so it’s not surprising military dress appeals to death metallers. For guys, that’s camo pants and cargo pockets, and for ladies, that’s military dresses and skirts.
Death metallers love their hair. It’s the most important part of their attire. Without long hair, how can you windmill? How can you cover your pimply face on stage? How can you lacerate the baby-deaths until they bleed?
Hair is matted to the face, covered in sweat and dripping with gore. Dreadlocks look appropriate too, and they’re great for flicking people in the face in the mosh pit (I had dreadlocks once, so I know this is standard practise).
Following on from the military theme, no death metaller would be complete without their bullet belt. That’s right, a belt made from a strip of bullets and bullet links. You can buy bullet belts online, or make your own. Obviously they should be real bullets. Bonus points if they’re live bullets. Extra bonus points if their not live bullets but one of the bullets was dug out of somebody.
I’ve seen some death metallers wearing a leather cuff. Unlike mallgoths, who wear their spikes and studs all the way from their wrists to their elbows, a death metaller chooses ONE, well-made, not-covered-with-bling cuff. Any more and you’re going to look like a try-hard, and you don’t want to know what happens to try-hards in the pit …
November Fire: an incredible collection of classic horror film shirts (and by classic, I mean old-school and b-grade). These shirts are hand-screened on heavy black cotton. Noice.
Queen of Darkness: This is a German site, but it’s worth a look. A lot of their stuff is a bit OTT with the chains and buckles and things, but I brought a few pieces (including a military mini-dress) from Wacken and LOVED what I found.
Kitty Vamp Designs: repurposed death metal t-shirts, made into wicked women’s clothing.
: Normally these guys are a bit too “mallgoth” but their latest collections are actually quite br00tal. The rule with these kind of labels is all in how you style them!
Kinky Angel: more military / nursey stuff for girls.
Batwings and Battleaxes: I love the cuffs these guys make – understated, but unmistakingly metal.