January 20, 2011

Metalheads 101: What Is a Metalhead?

Metalheads 101, Tr00 Metal Life

Last week, in Metalheads 101, we talked about what IS metal music, and boy howdy did it incite some discussion! Genre classifications fascinate me, as it’s essentially a label given to a type of music in order to help record companies market, and yet, it’s impossible to talk to any kind of music lover without realising that genres invoke quite strong emotional and intellectual responses. Why would this be?

Becuase, all to often, music is about so much more than just what a band sounds like … for many of us, music is part of life, part of who we are. We defend our beliefs about music with as much venom and as we would defend our families or lovers.

Who are the champions of metal? Why that would be you, us. We the metalheads.

What is a Metalhead?

The short answer: a metalhead is someone who listens to metal.

The long answer: a metalhead is someone who considers her or herself part of the metal subculture.

I know many people who listen to a few metal bands amongst their other musical interests, and don’t consider themselves metalheads. I myself don’t listen exclusively to metal. In fact, if I added up every album I owned, one might find only 40-50% of them would be metal albums. The rest are classical and modern composers, folk music, goth and post-punk, various genres involving the word “rock” and european pop music.

And yet, I’m a metalhead. I’m not a goth, I’m not part of the “folk” scene. I’m a metalhead, and damn proud of that fact.

“Metal” isn’t just a word to describe a particular type of music, but a subculture. And with that subculture comes all the other non-musical things associated with metal.

What IS a subculture? Well, there are different definitions depending on what particular school of academia you subscribe to. Socialogy, anthropology, psychology and modern historians (and probably many others I’m not familiar with) have their own definitions and schools of thought on subcultures and how to study them. I studied anthropology, so my views are colored by that experience.

Subculture: a group of people with a culture which differentiates from the larger group from which they also belong. Studying subcultures means studying music, clothing, activities and other symbols adopted by the subculture and how these are interpreted both by the subculture and by the dominant culture.

A subculture forms a series of “rules” and codes of conduct that both regulate behaviour within the subculture and provide a refernece point for recruiting new members. Commonality of dress, speech, behaviour, moral codes, interest and social activities foster a strong sense of community, which is how a subculture thrives. Along with this comes a strong rejection or competition against other subcultures.

When you decide you want to be a metalhead, you become part of a community of people all over the world who not only like metal, but agree that other people liking metal are the kind of people they would like to hang out with. Metal is a huge community – a “global tribe”, Sam Dunn calls it in Global Metal – and metalheads can recognise each other across racial, cultural, geographical and language barriars. If I walk past a metalhead on the streets of Brazil, or Syria, or London, he knows I’m a metalhead and I know he’s a metalhead and we can nod approvingly at each other and it’s all good.

So, how does one become a metalhead?

Listen to Metal

First and most important, you have to listen to metal. It doesn’t matter what kind of metal, or if your definition of metal is different from my definition of metal. But I advocate listening to a wide range of bands from various genres – we’ll be talking more about this in weeks to come. If you do nothing else on this list, but you know and love metal music from the bottom of your heart, then you can call yourself a metalhead.

If you do everything else on this list, and you don’t listen to metal, you’re a poser. That’s a fact. Metalheads tend to frown on posers. Do you want thousands of long-haired viking men and metal wenches frowning at you?

I think not.

Don’t be a poser.

Join the Community

Next, you need to find some other metalheads to hang out with. There’s no point being part of a subculture if you’re drinking by yourself in your basement. The best place to start looking for other metalheads is your local scene. We tend to congregate around local bars and clubs for gigs on the weekends – that’s a good place to start. Anthropologists call these places “subcultural spaces” – places recognised, owned, managed and policed by a subcultural community.

You’ll probably recognise the metalheads immediately, as they’ll no doubt be wearing metal shirts depicting their favorite bands. One of the best and simplest ways of starting a conversation is to simply spot someone wearing the shirt of your favorite band and say. “Nice shirt. What’s your favorite <insert band here> album?” See Making Friends with Metalheads for a few more tips.

Subcultural spaces can be online too – on blogs like Steff Metal, or discussion forums like Metal Alliance. Sometims the people on these forums know each other in real life, sometimes they’re spread all across the world and only talk online.

The more you hang out with metalheads, the more you integrate yourself into the community and become part of the subculture.

Dress Metal

Anyone can spot a metalhead – they’re the dude or dudette wearing the metal shirt.


metal concert

The metal shirt. The simple, no fuss way metalheads recognise other metalheads the world over. If you pass someone wearing a Testament shirt in the street, it’s a fair bet they’re a fan of the band and a metalhead too.
Not everyone wants to wear metal shirts, however, and there are some people out there who wear them for fashion reasons rather than actually loving the band. Looking at the rest of their emsemble or asking them about their favorite album tends to sort them out quick quick.

There are good metal shirts and crap metal shirts. Generally, you’re not supposed to wear a tour shirt from a tour you never saw. You also shoutd try and avoid buying “knock-off” shirts. We metalheads like to support the bands we love – and many bands make most of their living through merchandise, so we try to buy official.

Aside from the metal shirt, there are other items of clothing and aesthetic choices often worn by metalheads that you could adopt should you so choose. A metal shirt looks best when paired with well-fitted black jeans. Those jeans might be held up with a spiked or bullet belt. The shoe of choice is the boot – comfortable, functional, and imperative for smashing your way to the front of a mosh pit.

In years cone by, the essential item in every metalhead’s wardrobe was a jean jacket or vest, lovingly adorned with band patches brought at various concerts and hand-sewn into place. I’m seeing less of these in recent years, but if you wanted one, they’re still AWESOME. True metalheads always ALWAYS buy and sew the patches themselves (or get their mum to sew them on) and new buy pre-made patched jackets. That reeks of poser-dom.

To keep the rain off, metalheads like a good, long, un-fussy black or brown coat, or a black hoodie featuring the logo of their favorite band. I’ve noticed in Europe a lot more men are adopting the wearing of kilts, which suits me just fine as kilts are kinda hot.

Jewelry is minimal, especially compared to goths and punks, but every piece says something special. A metalhead might wear a Thor’s hammer, or a single leather wrist cuff, or a skull ring. If you ask him or her about their jewelry, you’ll likely receive a long and entertaining story about how they acquired it or how much it means to them.


Hair is usually long, on women and men. Men who don’t grow their hair long tend to shave it off or very short. People who need to keep their hair tidy for work might have very “normal” haircuts, but they miss out one windmilling, which kind of sucks for them. Metalheads don’t tend to go in for any complex styling – a comb in the morning to keep the tangles out, and a hairtie around the wrist does the trick for most of us.

Being Metal

Now that you listen to metal, look metal and have made a few metal acquaintences, you might like to learn a little more about how to BE metal.

The biggest metal rite of passage, after buying your first metal CD, is attending your first metal concert. You’ll notice many specific metalhead behaviours. these often vary from band to band and genre to genre, and it will take you awhile to become familiar with them. It’s all part of the fun (yes, this will be another article).

Mostly, you’ll notice a lot of people throwing the horns. You should throw the horns, too. But make sure you do it correctly – none of this thumb-out nonesense. As far as I’m aware, it doesn’t matter which way around your horns happen to be, as long as your thumb isn’t out and you’re not Miley Cyrus.

Apart from going to concerts, metalheads also have metal hobbies.

Hobbies metalheads might be interested in: history, horror films, artillery, carving musical instruments, wild animals, photography, graphic design, fashion, archaeology, vikings, politics, knitting, writing, conspiracy theories, pagan religions, painting, tattoos, wargaming, JRR Tolkien, drinking, swearing, computer games, swordfighting, tramping, rock climbing, playing any kind of instrument (yes, even the tuba), kittens, more drinking, and needlepoint.

Now, any of these hobbies / interests on their own are not necessarily metal, but when a metalhead chooses one, they have a tendancy to make it metal. Like Boo Davis and Quiltsryche. Or me and this blog. Also, there are certian things that seem to particularly interest metalheads – for example, most metalheads I know love horror films and studying various historical periods. A lot of metalheads seem to love re-enactment and martial arts. These are by no means rules, just observations based on my mates here in NZ, my travels and the awesome metalheads I’ve met through this blog.

When you start accidentally turning all your hobbies into “metal” hobbies, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re a metalhead.

The most important part of “being metal” is adopting a suitable metal philosophy on life. There are no hard rules on this, so it’s basically up to you to choose a life philosophy and moral code that you can somehow justify through metal songs. Common themes are “standing up for what is right”, “being brave”, “not taking shit from no one”, “not being afraid to be yourself”, and “the Christian scum must die.” (Project Hate – amazing band, terrible lyrics)

Contribute to Metal

After you’ve been a metalhead for a little while, you might start feeling the urge to “give back” to the community. This is a common trait of people who committ to subcultures, as they tend to feel a strong attachment to the community. Most metalheads play some part in their subculture, whether it’s playing in a band, running a bar, promoting gigs, writing reviews and articles for magazines or blogs, making a zine, helping with sound at a show or stamping people at the door.

Believe in Metal

And lastly, when you get to the point that metal permeates everything you do, when you metal sums up who you are and what you believe in, when you can’t imagine a world without metal …

Then, then you are a metalhead.


  • Do you consider yourself a metalhead? Why/Why not?
  • What, if anything, would you like to do to be more of a metalhead or become more involved with the metal scene?
  • What do you think makes a person a metalhead as opposed to a music fan or a poser?

33 Comments on “Metalheads 101: What Is a Metalhead?

November 17, 2015 at 9:27 pm

I do hope you still check the comments, considering the article is 4 years old now. I absolutely love this – I’ve been a rabid Metalhead for over 18 years now and I couldn’t add or modify a single thing. But I do have one question – do you differentiate between a metal fan and a Metalhead?

I ask because I feel like there is a certain distinction myself. I run a few metal forums and groups on Facebook, and have posed this very question with mixed results. I do think there is a line personally – metal fans listen to the music and participate in the culture, whereas Metalheads immerse themselves in the culture. I’ve heard them (my definition of Metalheads) referred to by different names (i.e. lifers), but in every forum where I have posted this question there is an invariable recognition that there are varying degrees of dedication to the music and lifestyle – and most of the time people agree with my classifications if not with the terminology.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s better to be a fan or a head – I feel like they’re both integral parts of the culture. And there are varying degrees of metal fans – casual to dedicated. But occasionally there are people who really don’t listen to much else, or participate in much else. People who become so ingrained in the culture itself that it becomes integrally tied to their identity. And I feel like that particular breed of people are the ones who own the title of Metalhead. Thoughts?

November 25, 2015 at 5:43 pm

@grulog – thanks for commenting. I do check old comments but sometimes it takes me a few days to reply. I definitely agree with you that there are different degrees of dedication/obsession within the wider spectrum of metal. I know within my own group of friends – all of whom call themselves metalloids – there are varying degrees of interest in, for example, discovering new bands or getting familiar with a wide range of metal. Some people love to analyse music on a deep level, others just love to headband. Some people dress “metal” every day and every opportunity, other dress pretty normally. There are people who listen to ONLY metal and people who enjoy a huge range of music.

I see where you’re coming from, but I personally think it’s better for people to be able to choose their own identifiers. If someone identifies as a metalhead, then I think that’s great and I would hate to act as a gatekeeper of that term. After all, such a huge part of the music is about destroying gatekeepers. There’s enough room in the subculture for all levels of participation, do you know what I mean?

November 26, 2015 at 7:51 pm

@Steff – no problem, thanks for writing such a great blog! and I do know where you’re coming from. i agree, and don’t consider myself a gatekeeper or anything similar. I guess a big part of where I’m coming from is that chances are – nobody who became a fan of the music after 2000 has ever had to endure the same levels of societal condemnation a lot of the old guard had to face.

I mean, I personally have been arrested for walking down the street while wearing metal t-shirts. that’s something you wouldn’t be too surprised at in the mid to late 90’s, especially in small towns. but nowadays that would be unheard of. or having to talk to your friends, go to shows, or go to the record store (and pray) to find new bands. or the concept of tape trading. I dunno, maybe I’m just turning into one of those old dudes who talks about how much more metal everything was back in his day.

November 11, 2014 at 8:02 am

idk why everyone thinks if your a metalhead you have to be a satanist im a Christian metalhead and that kinda annoys me how people think they have to worship satan like ozzy said They say I worship the devil
They must be stupid or blind im just a rock and roll rebel. you people need to stop thinking all metalheads are pentagram kissers and Christian haters i frown on that

November 12, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Someone asked me this once. Simple answer: I listen to metal at least 3 hours a day, sometimes much more. Since I can listen to music all day at work, I can listen to album after album straight through!

I think something people forget about is expanding to all of many sub-genres of metal (thrash, death, black, avant garde (yes), etc. After a long, long time listening to metal, I am still finding amazing bands.

Yea I own well over a hundred metal shirts, but as you get older it you end up not “dressing the part” as much, and just focus on the music.

August 22, 2014 at 11:03 am

can you give me some of your shirts? it would be cool

September 27, 2013 at 11:34 pm

I wish I’d had something like this years ago! For years I thought I didn’t “count” as a metalhead because I’m a small, nerdy femal. It actually took a near-death experience in my early 20s for me to start enjoying my hobbies openly, going to concerts and wearing my favorite bands’ merch without worrying about getting made fun of or not fitting in (years of being a small, female nerd in a town where geek is not chic will do that to you).

I wouldn’t have ever called myself a metalhead openly until a couple years ago, despite listening to metal and having friends who were a bit more obviously metal than I was, but almost dying made me realize that it’s more important to enjoy life and be enthusiastic about what you like than to worry about the opinions of people you don’t care about. When I started taking baby steps (a handful of band tees, first small-venue shows) I was so worried that I’d just be labelled a poseur when I went to a concert or just the pub or somewhere someone else might ask about my shirt or fave bands or whatever, but it turns out the tribe has accepted me fairly easily. More easily than mainstream folks, actually.

Makes sense though. When I didn’t fit in growing up, the group that accepted me were mostly nerds, punks and/or metalheads and I still hang out with a lot of them. Actually, come to think of it, I think most of them considered me one of them all along and just thought I was too broke to attend concerts or collect awesome shirts. There was zero surprise when I started wearing more metal tees and going to concerts.

July 28, 2013 at 11:45 pm

I am 14 years old and I consider myself a metal head. Why? Because all of the clothes I wear consists of band merch, probably about 80% being metal. I have all kinds of bands like slayer, pantera, metallica, iron maiden, and testament. I listen to them alot. Metal isn’t all that Iisten to though. My favorite band is blink-182 but just because I love them, doesn’t make me less metal. I believe in all kinds of music. I’m just open minded like that. All of my friends are metal also. I just kinda emerged myself in the group, and they openly accepted me because I am alot like them. Sometimes I think of myself as a poser because I don’t always listen to metal. Like I said, blink-182 takes up alot of that time. But in my opinion, just because I don’t always listen to it, doesn’t make me a poser. Metalheads make the greatest people and the greatest music. In the end, I think we’re all in it for the fun and the love of metal. Rock on guys \m/

April 23, 2013 at 8:50 pm

In your opinion, does one need to able to play a musical instrument in order to be a metalhead?

April 24, 2013 at 12:31 am

i don’t think so. i am a metalhead, and i don’t play anything. it is not uncommon for us to start to play, or try to learn, but i don’t consider it a requirement.

March 14, 2013 at 8:38 am

what makes a metalhead? i agree, actually listening to the music and liking it is the most important. everything else will follow as you become more immersed in the culture. or not. there are plenty of people who don’t look metal, but love it, see Brian Posehn’s “More Metal Than You”, while there are lots of people who look metal, but are total posers. Infidel Amsterdam has a good video about judging people’s metal-ness based on appearance on youtube. sadly there is a serious problem of metal infighting. and i love Manowar, so sadly i perpetuate this to an extent. but yes, talking to someone is really the only way to find out if they are a metalhead, metalhead in training, or a poser.

March 14, 2013 at 9:28 am

further more, i love knowing that i am a metalhead. i had never really felt i was part of something until i really got into metal. once i stopped shaving my sideburns, and started wearing my denim vest, i just felt right. i felt like it was me, and this is who is who i was. when i wear my battle jacket, i get a sense of confidence i have trouble finding otherwise, and i like being able to display my passion in such a way.

and that is really what being a metalhead is all about, the passion.

music, for many people, is more than just music, as you said, it is a way of life. being able to find motivation, courage, solace or guidance through music is , dare i say, magical. many times have i sought mental, emotional, or spiritual help through music, through metal. venting seething anger through Kreator, finding guidance down life’s path from Dio (R.I.P.), Hammerfall helping me after a tough rejection, hope and strength from Manowar, and realizing a love of history through Sabaton. and i believe that this is why the artists do what they do. knowing that they have helped one person through a tough part of their life, or that they have motivated someone to do something great, i think they would consider all their work worth while. i would like to think that if i told Meat Loaf that he taught me about what it means to be a man and the difficulties therein, he would consider his time well spent. art, music, metal can do this for people.

i love metal, because it is always there for me. it does not judge me. it is there for the good times and the bad. it accepts me for what i am, while pushing me to become even greater.

horns up!

January 25, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I’m 15 from Philippines. Do I consider myself as a Metalhead? Not at the moment. I’m still in the first part, well I call it the first part since I’ve been listening to some 80’s metal bands and the bands that started metal. I don’t listen to metal all of the time. Probably just 90% of the time. The other 10 consists of listening to classical (I like classical music)and Rock. Anyway, this April, I’d be going to my first concert, a metal one at that, Philippine’s Pulp Summer Slam. The line-up for the concert is dragon force, cannibal corpse, amoral, as i lay dying, coheed and cambria and a skylit drive. Anyway, wish me luck!

February 1, 2013 at 12:08 am

@DC – good luck – sounds like an awesome lineup! I’ve seen most of those bands before and I can say – you ain’t gonna be disappointed \m/

January 9, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Wow. I just discovered your blog today, Steff, and I already admire the work you do, the advice you bring forth to us, and all that you’re about!

As I read this particular post, I had to lean back in my slightly uncomfortable, wooden chair in a dorm suite, and truly ponder what sort of label I might fall under. Thanks to the help of your points, I’ve come to conclude that I AM a metalhead! I never thought I was, before… just viewed myself as a goofy little child who happens to enjoy listening to some metal. But no.

Pondering the things I’ve done/I do/I support and promote, I formed quite the bundle! Aaaaahh!

I support many local bands (I also advertise for them as often as I can, through simple media like Facebook, text, and word of mouth) and try my hardest to attend larger shows out of state. Nothing beats the powerful atmosphere at an epic metal fest or a particular metal band’s concert.

I do enjoy reading some Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology, although I couldn’t explain the messages behind them if someone interrogated me. I guess I simply appreciate those myths, the morals behind them, etc.

I like getting to know many types of people—not just a particular “clique”. I actually only have maximum four or five friends who fall under the ‘metalhead’ category, and I mostly hang around widely diverse groups of people on campus. But there’s a special place in my heart for strong, long-haired (but well-kempt) men in a kilt and combat boots! I feel more comfortable around that type as opposed to an obviously wealthily dressed and clean-cut guy, as most of the guys I’ve met who dress similarly to the more brutal type actually tend to be very down-to-earth, super funny, and truly protective of whom/what they care about most. And they have a great sense of musical taste! How could a lady NOT find her heart beating fast at the sight of one? Meh, most girls I know just stereotype these great metalheads as “Satanist” since the girls never give these men the time of day. Who cares?! More REAL men for us ladies who appreciate these gems, eh?

I play these horribly, but I belt out my vocal chords when I’m feelin’ fine, attempted the violin for 7 years until I grew busy with college classes, strummed the guitar here and there, and tapped notes on the keyboard as of the past couple years. Like I said, I’m horrible at them, but there’s something oddly therapeutic about sitting down with an instrument and playing all the emotions out, whether it is while locked in the bedroom or on a massive stage for an audience. Although I suck at them, I still make it a point to listen carefully to professionals playing on said instruments; and then those warm, tingly feelings begin to permeate throughout my whole body and mind. Oh, I lovez it! 

Finally, I may dress in strangely colorful outfits the majority of the time, but I proudly keep safe my cute little collection of band tees (i.e. Sonata Arctica, Korpiklaani, Wintersun, Children of Bodom, etc.). I might wear a flower in my hair every day as well (I guess it’s just my signature item), but I prefer minimal jewelry. I do, however, regularly wear this neat snake ring that coils around my finger, and wear my favorite Celtic necklaces, like one that holds a Triquetra charm on the end.

I think I typed an eyeful, but your awesome blog completely inspired me to leak out all these tiny characteristics I’ve bottled up for a time! Thank you!

January 6, 2013 at 8:21 am

I’m 14 year old, female metalhead and proud of it.
I get teased and picked on and bully for it but metal has taught me that its okay to be different. That being different is a good thing.

To me, metal is more than just music. It’s my life.
Metal has saved me in more ways than one. Its what makes me get up in the morning and keep me going until night time.
Its the one thing that I know I can believe in.

Metal is my best friend.

January 9, 2013 at 11:50 pm

@BlackSwan666 – you sound like me at your age. I totally hear you, and welcome \m/

July 25, 2012 at 8:13 am

I’m a 14 year old living in a tiny town (under 1,300 people) in the U.S.A. You can imagine it’s pretty hard to find other metalheads. I do consider myself a metalhead, but I wish I could be more of one. I live with my grandparents that hate metal and hate it when I buy stuff related to it. I do have about 10 CDs and 3 Iron Maiden t-shirts that I bought secretly and have hidden at my cool grandpa’s house. I wish I was allowed to wear my shirts and listen to my CDs at home, as well as go to non-glam metal concerts. I think to really be a metalhead you have to love and support the music and in most cases you just live it. As a music fan or poser you don’t love metal in the same way, and it’s hard to fake that type of dedication.

August 9, 2012 at 12:45 am

@Elizabeth – that’s it exactly. You can’t fake the kind of dedication we all exhibit. I’m sorry you have to hide your metal stuff. My parents were a little freaked out when I went metalhead, but they were always supportive of whatever I wanted to do, as long as I still worked hard at school. Things like this are very different in the US, though, because I know there’s a lot of intolerance for things seen as “satanic”, etc. You could maybe talk to them about it and try and show them that metal doesn’t make you a satanist (I’m sure I have an article about this somewhere …) but I know with some people this is just never going to work. You’ve only got a few more years till you’re out on your own, though, so as long as you’ve got a decent hiding place, you should be sweet \m/

And welcome to the site!

October 22, 2012 at 1:38 am

Dude ik your pain. add the fact that I’m black and now going to a christian college and ugh! It’s okay as long as you explain…however ik from experience that the older you get, the less tolerant you get. At a certain age, they are set in stone so just be respectful and grab some noise reducing headphones or something.
A good way to convince people is to give em the softer stuff (nightwwish was mine), then show them that it’s not evil (Number of The Beast lyrics/explaination will turn anyone into an understanding person). Just keep up with metal but be respectful always…but don’t ever quit lol rock on bro \m/

July 15, 2011 at 6:55 am

I’m 27, Metalhead and PROUD of it! :o)

I listen to Metal (bands like Avantasia, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Edguy, etc.)
I wear the black t-shirts (band t-shirts, of course), the stretch jeans – no bullet/studded belt, but with large band belt buckles, and the boots
I don’t play an instrument, but I don’t think that makes me any less Metal.
I go to the concerts whenever I can afford it.
It’s one of my dreams to attend at least 1 European Metal Festival (Download, HammerFest, Kavarna Rock Fest – ,Wacken Open Air, etc.)
I am also a history and photography buff! :o)

So…yeah…I reckon I qualify as a Metalhead \m/

Metal On, Steff, and please keep your awesome blog posts coming! \m/ :o)

June 3, 2011 at 3:48 am

im 14 and it feels im like the only person in my whole country who likes metal – everyone who is a so called metalhead in my school is just a poser listen to bring me the horizon and other shit…….. man i wish i lived in america it sounds like theres a whole bunch of metalheads there, its so crap in the uk i feel im missing out on the heavy metal lifestyle that i should be living – i dunno maybe im too young to experience it yet but this is gonna change in a few years!

June 4, 2011 at 11:49 pm

I felt exactly the same when I was your age (which was a whole 12 years ago now, eep). I came from a tiny town and it seemed like I was the only one there who liked anything harder than Metallica. Truth is, there are probably people who love metal but just don’t wear it on their sleeve as much as you. You might find those kind of people if you go to local all ages gigs and talk to folk. Sometimes the bands are shite but it’s worth it for the conversation. Can you go to Bloodstock Open Air? If so, I highly recommend you do that – you will meet SO many awesome metalheads from your country )I went to this festival in 2009 and it had the wickedest vibe).

I’ve been to the UK, and trust me, there are A LOT more metalheads there than in New Zealand, where I live. It takes you a while to find a group you’re happy hanging out with, especially when you’re 14. Don’t give up – the metalheads are definitely out there!

Seany Genovese
March 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Do you consider yourself a metalhead? Why/Why not?
Definitely do, I’m almost always thinking about Metal, when the next show will be, how I can inject metal into something that normally it wouldn’t belong in(school papers are excellent for this), wearing shirts/hoodies/patches, anything that’ll let people know what I’m about. Being a black guy I especially have to rep it, or I’ll just be another Black dude. Weird, I know, but that’s my mind for you.

What, if anything, would you like to do to be more of a metalhead or become more involved with the metal scene?
If I were 21+ I could definitely do more. Like drink! I don’t mean shitfaced every night but just talking to other guys holding beers when you’re holding one as well makes it feel less awkward in a way. That and go to the 21+ shows and meet even more people.

What do you think makes a person a metalhead as opposed to a music fan or a poser?
A poser is simple: Someone who doesn’t know anything but will pretend they do just to fit in. If someone’s new to it, however, they may make the mistakes posers do, but that’s okay, they’re still learning and need guidance. It’s the guys that go around making us look bad by calling Disturbed and Godsmack Death Metal that need a swift kick to the noggin.

January 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Reading all the comments it seems like the metalscene does only consist of non-metalheads. Pretty awesome scene!

January 27, 2011 at 1:40 am

@MrPolek I think all the real metalheads are too metal to read my website :)

Ali Luke
January 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I’m not really a metalhead.

I think I’d like to be, in an alternative life… but I’m not sure it’s really ME right now.

I own a couple of metal t-shirts, but I’m picky and want t-shirts which I like the look of, not just ones with an album cover on. And I have yet to attend a single metal gig.

I have long hair, not quite so long as yours, Steff. I always wear it loose.

I don’t really *know* any metalheads. A few people who like metal, but none of ’em are folks I see much anymore (two went to my old church — they both took it in turns to run the soundsystem and tended to have a metal CD on while testing it before services…)

In terms of metal hobbies, I was into roleplaying and Warhammer in my younger years. I write (usually stuff with a fantasy slant, leaning towards the dark). I used to cross stitch.

But frankly, I don’t think I’m a metalhead and maybe I’m cool with that right now. I guess I just haven’t found a good way to integrate liking metal with the rest of who I am.

January 20, 2011 at 11:59 am

I’ve described myself as an “armchair metalhead” before because I’m not able to get physically involved in the scene due to my illness, but I am most definitely a metalhead in all other aspects. I am so passionate about metal that I get angry at myself for trying to make people care about it in the same way I do.

I would love to get more involved, to channel my passion into people that already feel the same way I do, and I plan on doing so once actually can.

It’s already been said, but passion is definitely what makes a metalhead in my opinion. But that passion has to be wider than the love of one or two metal bands. There are plenty of people who are passionate about Metallica, but I wouldn’t call them metalheads. If you get what I mean.

January 20, 2011 at 10:53 am

Do I consider myself a metalhead…yes. Do I look like a metalhead…not even close. Due to work, I am one of the most clean cut, whitebread people out there. Customers dont like to let the guy with tattoos and long hair into their houses, so I tend to avoid extreme styles. When I have free time I usually throw on a band shirt and my work boots (which are totally due for replacement). Its funny, some of the most hardcore metalheads I know have some of the least extreme styles.

What seperates a metalhead from a poser…I think Emily hit it…passion. Posers take whats given to them, but make no effort to look past the surface. Every metalhead Ive ever met is always digging, looking for new bands, keeping up with tour dates, going to shows. Posers want to be part of the culture, but dont want to do the work.

Emily Bleak
January 20, 2011 at 7:19 am

IMO it’s a tragedy that the patched vest is going out of style…it’s so easy to update by changing it from acid-wash to a dark or black denim. There’s a little pack of metal buddies that call themselves the Northern Elite Headbangers around Massachusetts who I see at all the awesome local shows – they’re all late 20s, cute longhairs, look like BFFs, and all have patched black denim vests with matching NEH back patches. It’s so charming and old-school, I love them for it. :)

OTOH, some of my buddies into metal or industrial don’t dress the part at all – short hair, covered tattoos, etc. Some of the band members I know look pretty normal until they open their mouths and let loose with the growling. One of my coworkers is a hardcore black metal fan and looks like your typical office management type!

I think it boils down to having passion for metal…it’s one of the few scenes around where people inevitably throw their heart and soul into it, I think that’s why soooo many metalheads get involved in the scene like you mentioned. It’s hard not to want to make it your whole life. Giving that much of a shit about it (DIE FOR METAL!) is most of it in my opinion – you could listen to nothing but Korn for all I care, as long as you really love it.

January 20, 2011 at 5:06 am

As I said in a previous comment: I dont consider myself to be a metalhead. Yet probably I am a metalhead.

I wear metal cloths. I wear a metalshirt everyday, my leather jacket, plain black cowboy boots and basic blue jeans. Thats metal, isnt it? Ok I do like to wear jewlery but I think that kind of metal (hair metal :-P).

I have a metal hobby (my blog), I’m going to concerts and festivals and people in my local metal scene know me.

I do ow a jacket in sand camouflage with patches sewn on it (BTW: What is more metal, then you sewing a slayer patch on your jacket and you stich yourself by accident, so that the slayer patch consists of your own blood…)

I would love to own a metalbar!

And, of course, I listen to metal. Not exclusivly but most of the time.

But there are 2 point that make me consider myself not a metalhead.

1. Labeling myself would not gather everything I am. I think that if a person would just be a metalhead, that person would be pretty one dimensional.

2. I see no reason to follow any rules exept of the ones I put there myself. I dont want so follow any subculture saying that I need to be like something to be a part of them. And even if the metalscene allways says that they are about individualism, thats not true.

So maybe I match all requirements of being a metalhead, but would not say that I am a metalhead.

January 20, 2011 at 3:54 am

I’d agree with all of that, but, like metal, there are degrees of metalheadedness. Or rather, I do not believe that metalheadedness necessarily needs to be worn on one’s sleeve.

I got into metal reasonably late among peers at 18 when I went to university, but I fell in with a more trendy crowd and had to enjoy my metal on my own in my room. I had a guitar and trained myself to play Metallica’s back catalogue to near-perfection.

After graduating I went straight into an office job, I have never felt able to try out metalhead fashion fully, it passed me by. However I have tried in my own way – I wear a goatee from time to time, not because I want to try something new, but as a nod to metal. I wear a lot of black metal band t-shirts outside of work, but not exclusively. I attend a lot of gigs and go to at least 1 metal festival a year, one time making my way to another country – Germany, to do so with a friend, my dad and sister – although we like to stay in a hotel, but by chance bumped into Kirk Hammet coming back after the Metallica gig – they were staying at the same hotel. Nice :) I listen to metal 75% out of all my music which includes everything from Enya to Bach to Carrie Underwood, Neil Diamond and Coldplay.

I would say I am a metalhead, but accept I do not fully express it as much as the kids. It becomes much harder to express yourself outwardly when you get older and have to be seen to be a certain way. That’s OK, I don’t mind. It keeps metal as an escape for me, but I am confortable within the subculture. I chat to people at gigs, I used to be right at the center of moshpits, I’ve been to metal gigs in Tokyo, Germany and London. I discover new bands on and Spotify, I buy metal on iTunes.

UK’s Sonisphere 2011 is looking amazing, I think i’ll end up going home (currently in the US) to it.

I’m a metalhead, but a closet one :) And what would I most like to do? My biggest regret? I have always wanted a tattoo! But I have too many people telling me not to. So I can’t quite become a full metalhead because a true metalhead, at the far end of the scale does not care what other people think, and I do.

March 14, 2013 at 9:49 am


no, i really do like Enya. and Neil Diamond too, good stuff.

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