"Metalheads?" as a question provokes many a response. The easily-swayed Daily Mail reader will undoubtedly mention something grumbling about "sick filth" and "blasphemy" before returning to dribble over the mass deportation of asylum seekers, while the media wanky music critic will most likely sneer and roll his eyes and start crowing about outdatedness and some flash-in-the-pan DJ that's so Now that once you've said his name you're not Now, but you're Then. The responsible parent will raise questions about how anyone can listen to "that godawful noise", while the local embarrassment of chavs will probably say something unintelligible about a fear of soap and how they'd like to beat them up. As an aside to this last one, I'd like to take some of these specimens to a Kreator show and toss them in the pit, but that's just me being vindictive.
The truth is, your average headbanger is none of these and, once you enter their distorted, overblown, and often drunken world, there's a lot more to it than just that. So here is presented a rundown of the most visible breeds of metal fan that the avid twitcher, so to speak, can expect to spot in an afternoon's work at Hellfest or Wacken Open Air. Please note that most metalheads are a mixture of any or all of these, this is just a brief rundown.
1. The Heavy Artillery
Overview: The Heavy Artillery is the top of the metal food chain and usually is found in the midst of the mosh, crushing everyone in sight not by particular strength or speed, but simply by his mammoth weight. Outside of such an environment, though, he's generally nice and down to earth, albeit with a massive appetite. Like many types of metalhead, he prefers to pick a mate from amongst the ranks of female metalheads, and of the female metalhead stereotypes he's usually seen in the company of either the Androgynous or the Vampire Queen.
Dresses: In anything that'll get round his voluminous girth - so nothing too fancy then. Usually a way oversized and rarely washed tour shirt, black jeans, though usually which have had so much beer, mud, and other undesirables ground into them over the years that they're no longer particularly black even after washing. Large stompy boots are, of course, a must. Hair is, of course, long, sometimes arse length, and beards are mildly common.
Favourite Bands: Anything really, usually 80s thrash or early death, though. Some specimens also profess a liking for the more accessible forms of black metal and even a spot of the current wave of metalcore, but these are often the exception.
Quotes: None, really.
Rarity Rating: \m/\m/ (fairly common.)
2. The Viking
Overview: Large, heavily bearded men often from Germany or Scandinavia, though not always, the Viking is generally a metalhead stereotype that arises out of some other variety. For instance, a Heavy Artillery that develops a liking for some of the folksier sounding black metal often ends up as a Viking, as does an SCA Geek that puts on weight (see below.) The Viking is usually found alone, or with other Vikings, and is rarely seen with a woman, but usually when they are, she will undoubtedly be the most utterly and genuinely gorgeous woman at the festival. Which is a shock, as usually the Viking has a face like a slapped arse.
Dresses: At one extreme they might dress indistinguishably from most other metalheads, but with a huge bears and a Thor's Hammer pendant, but at the other they'll be found with leather trousers, multiple piercings, kilts, or even chainmail. Drinking horns attached to the belt are a popular accessory, as is the consumption of mead.
Favourite Bands: Amon Amarth, Burzum, Enslaved, Hammerheart-era Bathory. Basically anyone who crows about Norse mythology.
Quotes: "AAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHH!" "We're the Wackeneers / we like drinking beers / rape and pillage, rape and pillage / kill all the fackin queers!"
Rarity Rating: \m/\m/\m/ (uncommon.)
3. The Dinosaur
Overview: This is the bloke of whom there's at least one at every show, regardless of who's playing, who makes disparaging comments about the show but secretly loves it anyhow. He's the one who bought Reign in Blood on tape the day it came out and remembers seeing Metallica when they still had big hair. About half the time, he's married to a woman who acts fairly similarly, and the other half the time he's traded her in for a younger model (see The Girlfriend in Female Metalhead Stereotypes.)
Dresses: The same way he did in 1987 - jacket, either denim or leather, covered in patches, old jeans, knackered old boots, wrinkles, lots of tatts.
Favourite Bands: Anything from before 1992. Municipal Waste are also permitted, but this is only because they sound like they fell out the golden age of thrash.
Quotes: "Of course, their early stuff was way better." "They call this thrash?" "It's not out yet, but chances are it's going to suck."
Rarity Rating: \m/\m/ (fairly common)
4. The BAMBI
Overview: BAMBI stands for Born Again Middle-aged BIker, which says it all, pretty much. This is one of the rarest of the stereotypes, all things considered, as the current metal scene's moved away rather heavily from 70s hard rock and brought new undesirables into the fold.
Dresses: Leather jacket, motorcycle boots, mullet, sunglasses. Possibly some Iron Cross shaped paraphernalia as well.
Favourite Bands: Manowar, Saxon, Motorhead, anything from the 70s.
Quotes: Usually anything about motorbikes and riding and that time he rechromed his Shovelhead-era Harley using only his teeth and his wife's knickers. To anyone else it sounds like a foreign language run through the ENIGMA machine.
Rarity Rating: \m/\m/\m/\m/\m/ (rare)
5. The SCA Geek
Overview: Verily, fine sirs, sit ye and list to our tale of heroic warriors, mighty battles, and strange, borderline-Aspergers young men who doth prance around Italy in big shirts with the intent that they might dip their wick. Prepare to hear tableaux of glorious battle, danger, death, and derring-do, the likes of which thou shalst never hear outside of the World of Warcraft or the Lorien Trust, or the lyrics to a Rhapsody of Fire song. This person doth not mosh lest his frills be torn, and doth drink only Real Ale or mead.
Dresses: Big shirts, tight pants, curly hair, swords. The tight pants are preferably of leather, or better still, are armour-plated.
Favourite Bands: Rhapsody of Fire, Manowar, Manilla Road, DragonForce, Blind Guardian, anyone who has done at least two songs based on the writings of Tolkien, Moorcock, or the Dragonlance series.
Quotes: "And we'll ride against the wind for the glory of the kings to defeat our evil enemies / And we'll ride with our lord for the power and the sword / in the name of Holy Thunderforce!"
Rarity Rating: \m/\m/\m/\m/ (quite rare)
6. The Harder Core Than Thou
Overview: Thin, wiry, and often found in the midst of the mosh, throwing elbows. He is, in many ways, the opposite of the Dinosaur in that he only grudgingly acknowledges anything from after 1992 and sees the Dinosaur as a bit of a stick in the mud. Though secretly he can be found bouncing round his room to Sodom or Anthrax like anyone else, he doesn't admit to it. Is completely unaware that Robb Flynn disgraces his past in Vio-lence with every passing moment he spends in Machine Head.
Dresses: Band shirts, knackered trainers, multiple piercings. Small beards, and often pretty short hair. Tatts are uncommon, and are usually, when present, small and mono-coloured, possibly tribal designs.
Favourite Bands: Pantera, Machine Head, Lamb of God, Pantera, Sepultura (but only from Chaos AD onwards), Chimaera, Pantera, Shadows Fall, and, of course, Pantera.
Quotes: "RIP Dimebag Darrell!" "Yeah, well, Lamb of God are fuckin hardcore, man!" "Now you need an open mind for this..."
Rarity Rating: \m/ (common as muck)
7. The Technician
Overview: Infuriating specimens these, they stand usually towards the back of the crowd, utterly still, and with arms folded. They will listen intently to what's being played and when it finishes, they'll turn to each other (they're always found in pairs, you see), and nod sagely before dissecting the piece bar by bar and rating it on how "technical" it is. Never let slip that you play a guitar near one; they will eulogise at length about why a Les Paul or a B. C. Rich Warlock or a Stratocaster or whatever is inferior and why you should convert to a Gibson Super Duper Deathstick XBVS760000 with custom pickups, luminous strings, and a built-in fleshlight for ease of fretwanking. And they will follow you EVERYWHERE.
Dresses: This is where they're at their most deadly - they dress like other types of metalhead in order to sneak up on you and bore you to death more effectively.
Favourite Bands: Dream Theater, Spiral Architect, Opeth, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Rhapsody of Fire. And yes, they know what an octavarium is.
Quotes: "Now that was fucken TECHNICAL, man!" "Well absolutely. Alexi Laiho only WISHES he could play like Luca or Yngwie, and dont get me started on Dimebag. He might have it in the soloing stakes, but it's the riffs where it counts..." "Tsk. Typical woman. I played her my very best 27-minute-plus study and she ran off with a half-pissed thrash fan!"
Rarity Rating: \m/\m/\m/ (uncommon)
8. The Kvltist
Overview: Oh, how this bloke really, really wishes he was in Immortal. Or, better still, that he was in some really obscure, shittily-produced, black metal band that lives in a cave somewhere in Norway and only puts out vinyl LPs hand-numbered to 666 copies. To him, CDs are for posers, as is being able to read the band logo, and preferably, your band will be named an unintelligible string of letters, like Brenoritvrezorkre or Dzlvarv or Vagézaryavtre, to prevent people from spreading their fame by word of mouth. What he won't tell you, though, is that in his room, which is undoubtedly black-wallpapered, black-sheeted, and with huge fuck-off Baphomet flags on the wall, he has a locked box with every Cradle of Filth LP, EP, single, and demo tape ever recorded in it, and bounces about to them regularly; he simply keeps up the deception that he's the most underground and tr00 person ever to walk the earth and claims he has the right to call "poser" on Varg Vikernes. Which he doesn't.
Dresses: All-over body corpse paint, strange leather fetishware that looks like it was made out of some old belts attached together artfully, beard, deliberately matted and raggedy hair, usually with an awful dye job, bullet belts, bracers with huge carpentry nails stuck through them.
Favourite Bands: Moonblood, Mutiilation, the aforementioned unpronounceable French black metal bands from above, Carpathian Forest (it's where his fashion sense comes from), and, of course, Cradle of Filth, but he doesn't admit to it. Also anything whose works you can only get off eBay.
Quotes: "TRUE NORWEGIAN BLACK METAL!!!!!" "Oh, of course, Belketre are kvlt-as-fuck, I wouldn't expect YOU to have heard them." "Yeah, Immortal aren't bad for fucking MTV whores."
Rarity Rating: \m/\m/\m/\m/ (quite rare, thankfully)
9. The Kerrang Kid
Overview: Thankfully not as common as he used to be, the Kerrang Kid is usually the irritating younger brother of a proper metalhead who's tagged along thinking he's more metal than a ten ton block of osmium. Basically, he's the poor ninny who believes that Kerrang magazine is the be all and end all of the goings on in the heavy music scene, whilst everyone else knows that it's a low-rent shit sheet that prints rubbish about wussy emo bands and poseurs in stupid trousers. His preferred tipple is something non-alcoholic, probably a J2O so he can lie about how he's tipped a quad measure of vodka into it, and his voice is really, really, untenably loud, and often punctuated with lots of motherfucking so he can sound tough when he is, in all probability, a suburban butterboy. Unfortunately, such specimens are invariably present in all metal scenes, so you'll just have to either loathe them or ignore them.
Dresses: Hoodie, usually Korn or Slipknot or another equally worthless bunch of nu-metal pukes, and stupid trousers. Either these are wider at the legs than at the waist, or so tight that he's incapable of cracking a fat with them on. Shoes tend to be knackered old Converse of expensive designer-label trainers. Hair a wee bit longer than they allow at school, usually with a really bad dye job and/or a floppy fringe. Self injury scars optional.
Favourite Bands: Slipknot, Korn, Linkin Park, post-Black Album (i.e. when they were shit) Metallica. The newer specimens in this breed lean more towards the more emo end of metalcore, so that'll be As I Lay Dying, Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, and Trivium then.
Quotes: "koRn rulz mudda fuckaz!!!!1" "u must b in2 pussy muzik lyk Britney Spears den!!!!1" (if of the nu-metal variety), "I'm going to draw a picture, a picture with a twist / I'll draw it with a twist / I'll draw it with a razor and I'll draw it on my wrist, &c." (later specimens)
Rarity Rating: \m/\m/ to \m/\m/\m/\m/, dependent on location (fairly common in Britain, quite rare in continental Europe.)