One of the few things that most people can agree on when it comes to heavy metal music is that pioneering artists in the genre often have one thing in common- the need to rebel against whatever is considered “mainstream”. While influential bands often start trends that become the norm in metal (and eventually music), these trends simply create new things to change and rebel against. While metal is largely a form of music, fans will tell you that it is more of a mindset. One way that heavy metal has long managed to rebel against society has been through their use of fashion.
When you look at heavy metal artists and the way they dress or act, you will often find that what is popular in the genre is the opposite of what is popular in the mainstream. Some artists, such as Slipknot, KISS, and GWAR, even go so far as to create entire personas to match their unique sense of style. Staples of heavy metal artists include those things generally considered taboo by traditional society- men with long hair, makeup, and ripped up clothing. Religious elements, particularly those that create a sense of panic in the ideological, such as skulls, pentagrams, and large crosses, are commonly used themes incorporated into heavy metal fashion.
Sub-genres of heavy metal music certainly tend to take on their own fashions as well. Those who fell within the glam category in the 70’s and 80’s were extremely well known for almost theatrical makeup, including heavy eyeliner, lipstick, and more as well as decidedly more effeminate clothing. Punk influenced bands tended to veer more towards piercings and brightly colored hair, as well as Mohawks and other similar styles, while those who consider themselves darker or more hardcore tend to gravitate towards the heavy use of black clothing and even the incorporation of death related themes. The fashions of metal are always changing, but a look at the clothing and style can give you a clue as to the mindset and musical style of the artists themselves.