Here’s A Handy Guide to the Best Online Metal Merch Shops
I love hunting down cool metal merch. There’s something about finding a great shirt, record, patch, or zine in a small shop — something with great art that would be a perfect addition to my collection — that fills me with considerable joy. And maybe I am somewhat superficial in giving these objects power, but let’s face it, if you’re a metalhead, you yourself have probably fallen in love with a piece of merch before. But because metal is so insular and driven by outsider culture, it’s sometimes hard to find your favorite band’s gear, and when you do you wear that shit down, until the hem is Swiss cheese and the armpits become armored deodorant plates.
But my whole life, I’ve been lucky enough to live in major cities, where actual physical stores where one can purchase metal merch items in person exist with some abundance. For many people across this slow-spinning marble of corruption, the only way to get the merch fix one so craves is to order that shit from the Internet. And while some merch items are easy to find — especially those of active bands who have personalized portals — others are not, especially the merch of those musicians deep in the underground.
So because the holidays are fast-approaching–and trust us, guys, they’re coming quicker than you think — here is a handy guide to the best online metal merch shops. Metalhead significant others, you’re welcome.
If your tastes lean towards the easily-accessible, Rockabilia should be your first stop. This isn’t to say it’s all Nickelback and Taking Back Sunday here — Rockabilia sells merchandise by a wide range of artists, including bands like Origin and Triptykon. But they probably won’t have that ultra-underground one-man black metal band you love, and even if they do they’ll have the most basic form of their merch, like a CD and maybe a shirt. Still, if you want that classic Master of Puppets shirt and you have the money, Rockabilia is the way to go.
Given that they sponsor big tours and tons of contests, some might question IndieMerchStore’s ‘indie’ cred these days. But make no mistake, this online merch hub sells tons of great stuff for all kinds of bands, especially those big names just beneath the mainstream radar of metal. I don’t know if it helps bands more when you buy from the general store or their specific portal — most bands have their own unique IndieMerchStore pages (as does MetalSucks) — but either way, this site’s doing lots of known-but-not-huge bands a solid by slinging their stuff.
THE IMMEDIATE UNDERGROUND
Though these days it’s mostly known as the label that brings the world such killer underground bands as Bonehunter and Midnight, Hell’s Headbangers is also an amazing distro company that sells hard-to-find music and merch by bands from all over the world. Their shirts and patches usually feature old-school and previously-discontinued designs for even the more mainstream metal bands whose stuff they sling, so you don’t have to settle for a band’s 2006 album cover filled with bad CGI. The collection of weird indie horror movie merch is also a plus. HHR are always updating their inventory, too, so check the New Arrivals section every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to see what new goodies have been yanked up from the abyss.
For a long time, Warlord Clothing’s original designs were the star of their show, and indeed these shirts are awesome. However, they soon became much better known for their rare band designs and reasonable prices. Sure, you might not find your favorite multi-hued Fallujah shirt here, but if you want a B&W Ghoul or Asesino hoodie for not too much money, forget looking anywhere else.
All the time, people stop me and ask where I got the rare band patch I’m wearing, and most of the time the answer is Abyss Records. While their shirt and hoodie selection are just decent, this site has amazing patches from bands that burn brightly in your heart even though the rest of the world seems to have forgotten them. If you or your loved one have a vest that needs something out of the ordinary to liven it up, this is definitely one of the first places I would look.
Though a little Hot Topic-y at times — there’s a lot of cute cartoon and horror merch here if you’re into it — The Catacombs also has some very rare finds, including shirt and patch designs that went out of style years ago but for some reason flourish here (one assumes a large box of them was purchased but their never sold until the nostalgia cycle spun back around to the art on them). If all the other sites have let you down and you need that Shadows Fall hoodie, this might be the place where you find that one item you desperately seek.
Krieg and such! If all things black, death, and thrash are what you crave, Metal Devastation has got you covered. Even if you don’t want to rock a specific band’s backpatch, they have plenty of pentagrams, Baphomets, and inverted crosses to slake your thirst for the evil and macabre. But perhaps most impressive is their selection of leather stage gear, with each piece named after a specific band (though sometimes erroneously so). A one-stop shop for anyone who wants to be the talk of Wacken.
For the crustier people you love, there’s Holy Mountain Printing, who make incredible shirts for doom, grind, and black metal bands including Hooded Menace, Pig Destroyer, Leviathan, and Tombs. On top of that, they make an incredible line of horror shirts, all with original art (Justin Bartlett’s art for John Carpenter’s The Thing is especially shudder-worthy). While their band selection isn’t as varied as some of these other sites, Holy Mountain do a good job of working with musicians whose fanbases overlap considerable, so hopefully you can pull in a considerable haul from them alone.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the Comments section.