As you walk through tile floored malls with a shopping bag swinging from your hand, you might notice a girl running around with her friends sporting a shirt with an electric, blue tongue sticking out of a bubble-gum-pink, melting lip that reads Falling In Reverse. Pre-teens have started to flock to stores like Hot Topic and have become interested in post-hardcore bands such as Sleeping With Sirens and Pierce The Veil, which have introduced middle-class teens to the outer gates of the metal scene.
Hot Topic and Zumiez, among others, are dedicated to encouraging mass consumption of band tee’s, spiked belts, and hair dye. Consumer stores for “the scene” have created a phenomenon in which a fourteen-year-old My Chemical Romance die-hard fan can buy their Welcome to The Black Parade tee, without actually seeing Gerard Way’s recently dyed hair in person. The uniform of the metal scene can now be easily obtained because of the store’s mass consumer audience, making Metallica shirts more popular.
These stores not only sell Iron Maiden tour shirts, but also popular alternative band tees for bands like Twenty One Pilots. They even sell Selena Gomez hoodies that are decorated with skulls and roses. The determination to sell to a mass audience somewhat taints the authenticity of buying a Motley Crue shirt when it is folded next to a Brittany Spears tank top.
Scene driven stores are not the only ones creating a popular platform for the metal genre and scene. Teens in their rebellious phase are also dragging this once under-ground music scene to the margin. The teen audience for post-hardcore bands has grown. The pop and metal influences of post-hardcore music entices all ages, but recently more and more pre-teens have been running into pits at Crown The Empire’s set. Although post-hardcore music and the metal genre are characteristically different, the similarities of the music genres invite the metal scene to become the next trend with the popular kids.
Celebrities also believe that metal is the next big thing. During Rhianna’s performance at MTV’s VMA’s, giant death-metal typography was splashed behind the pop star and on her background dancer’s uniforms. Many metal fans were less than pleased, but some were excited that this star was bringing their culture to the margin.
Justin Bieber is having a metal phase as well. After being spotted in a Marilyn Manson band tee, Bieber recruited Mark Reddick, an artist who has worked with Black Dahlia Murder Club, Suicide Silence and Dethklok, to design his merch for his upcoming tour.
Yeezy’s merch was also heavily influenced by the metal culture. The Yeezus tour apparel, which was designed by Wes Lang, not only featured skulls, crosses and roses but Metallica’s iconic pointed logo. The Life of Pablo merch features gothic script by Los Angeles artist Cali Thornhill DeWitt that echoes Dio’s logo.
The pop music industry’s appropriation of the typography and aesthetic of the metal genre taints a once-treasured tee that could only be bought at the venue of the concert, to an artificially, dip died, metal-core inspired tee, that will be worn by teens who don’t even know who the front man of Black Sabbath is.
High fashion designers have also appropriated the metal scene and have made it the latest trend in spring trend reports. This year, Demna Gvasalia featured metal typography; satanic symbols, skulls and blood splatter in the collection. In 2012, Balenciaga also featured influences of Iron Maiden’s merch design and logo. Vetements splashed metal typography on their sweatshirts that resembles Immortal’s logo. Vogue even published an article on the transgression from underground street-wear of the metal scene to the mainstream fashion trends.
As teenagers, celebrities, designers and mass consumer stores pull the metal scene to the mainstream, fans of the genre are becoming split regarding the genre’s inevitable shift. Many fans curse off the appropriation of the culture by mainstream media and celebrities. Others rejoice that maybe their scene will get the appreciation it deserves.
But as the popular high school kids fold their Black Veil Brides shirts next to their Slayer tees, and the Belibers keep taking selfies in their Metallica inspired Bieber merch, the metal genre will slowly creep into the mainstream culture and maybe sometime soon a double bass break down will be featured behind Selena Gomez’s breathy voice on the radio.