February 22, 2010

Fashion for Metalheads: Death Metal Fashion

Kvlt Fashion, Plunder, Tr00 Metal Life

Following on from my two previous fashion-by-subgenre articles: Power Metal Fashion and Black Metal Fashion, I give you … fashion advice for Death Metallers.

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.


Exhibit A: Steff in Cannibal Corpse long-sleeve


Exhibit B: My charming husband (who loathes having his photo taken, hence his rude gesture) in a long-sleeve (Can you tell we go to the same gigs?)

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.


Military chic, death-metal style

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.


a very attractive-looking death-metal type

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 …

Style Icons


Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy)



Glen Benton - Deicide


Kittie - getting more death-y with every album


Deadlock - german melodic death metal


Cannibal Corpse


Severed Heaven




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.

Lip Service: 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.

16 Comments on “Fashion for Metalheads: Death Metal Fashion

Annebelle Lee
April 26, 2016 at 6:30 am

what about gothic/symphonic fashion?

Rey Mark Pamaclawan
April 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm

I support!!!
spread the blood of metal heads!!!
\m/ + growl + \m/

January 5, 2012 at 12:11 am

This is a great list. I like to where the elastic sweat bands on my wrists. I used to where leather ones, but I found that the sweat ones are more comfortable, and don’t break off in the pit. And chains on wallets are pretty common where i live, i have 3 on my wallet. Camo and black cargos are common with black jeans with rips in the knees. I have a pair of combat boots that I where to all the shows that i go to, I’m usually one of the youngest guys in the pit haha.

March 1, 2011 at 2:27 am

Can’t really afford all that Lip Service and “specialty” branded stuff so it’s easier to go to a surplus/hunting store for all the military stuff. Camo pants and field jackets are the best!

March 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

@Jessica – yes, when I used to wear camo pants I always brought them from an army surplus store. I buy army berets and bags there, now. Those places kick ass.

September 26, 2010 at 10:20 pm

shit i got pics with george fischer and chuck shuldiner wearing abercrombie….glen benton as well so fuck fashion

July 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Did I miss camo pants? By jove, I did! That’s remiss of me. I might have to go back and put that in. And the baseball cap thing.

I’ve noticed the military dress thing among death-metal chicks in particular, but as I’ve said, the scene over here is very small and probably NZ-centric so I’m observing quite a small sample, and might not have it entirely accurate.

Daru Jericho
July 3, 2010 at 7:52 am

Decent but you totally missed camo pants, wearing shorts in the summer, slam death metallers wearing baseball caps (usually Skinless, Dying Fetus or Devourment). Plenty of death metal girlies wear blue denim skirts as well! Not sure about the military dress thing. As far as I’ve noticed, that’s more of a general alternative thing, rather than something worn just by metalheads. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen more than one metal girl wearing one. Not sure about the spikes/chains either – more black metal.

June 7, 2010 at 12:17 pm

this is soo much bullshit, the dude with the bullet belts ain’t a death metalhead
he’s clearly thrash
bullet belts are thrash moron
I don’t know who made this site but I have one thing to say for people that read my comment
just wear what you want to wear, don’t listen to idiots like this guy who wanna tell you not to try hard and etc
load of bull

June 7, 2010 at 9:54 pm

@Niels. Dude, you need to chill out.

If you’d read any more of my site, you would realize that first of all, I’m a girl, not a guy. Second, these fashion posts are not serious. I am not trying to tell people what they can and can’t wear. It’s shits and giggles. If English is your second language, I get how the writing might not come across as satire, but that’s what it is.

Yes, bullet belts are certainly thrash. However, I come from a metal culture where they’re predominantly worn by death metallers. When I put up a thrash metal fashion post, you’ll see a lot more of them.

February 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I know! There were Vikings at Wacken too, and even Spartans, especially in the “folk pit”, my favorite discovery about European metal (It’s basically simulanious headbanging and jiggin’).

February 24, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Oh man, folk would be a scream I bet – there were seriously awesome costumes at Paganfest 2009 that put our local Renaissance faire to shame. (Also, how often do you see a dude moshing in full Viking regalia?)

July 31, 2013 at 2:54 am

clearly you dont go 2 enough festivals i plan to attend Bloodstock festival this year in full viking armor :D keep it metal


February 24, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Doing these has been too much fun. It’s quite funny how there actually ARE differences in how sub-genre’s dress. I think I will either tackle “Folk Metal” or “Thrash Metal” next.

February 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm

That is of course totally cool!

February 24, 2010 at 9:39 am

Hey, this is awesome – I like death metal wear because it’s so focused on comfy casual. :) Also, haven’t looked at Lip Service in a loooong time (probably not since I ripped off their bleached skeleton jeans with a tub o’ Clorox and thrifted skinnies) – but those cage gauntlets are totally awesome!

I actually have a few Polyvore sets drafted up for stonerdoom/drone, it’s been on the backburner for a while but I might write it up as a guide and link back to these if that’s cool with you?

Comments are closed.