Gallery: Unreleased Photos of Iwrestledabearonce as a Black Metal Band in 2011
If you’ve been a metal fan for any amount of time, chances are — whether you know it or not — you’re already familiar with the work of Jeremy Saffer, who has photographed seemingly every active metal band of the past decade-plus. Saffer’s work is not only ubiquitous, but iconic: you know his work when you see it to the extent he’s even influenced an entire generation of photographers that’ve come after.
Saffer has granted MetalSucks exclusive access to his archives of unreleased photos — hundreds of thousands of shots that never saw the light of day — and, in what we hope will be a recurring series, has agreed to let us spotlight one gallery at a time of would-be-classic shots from the vault.
Up first in that series is a gallery featuring genre-melders Iwrestledabearonce, who in 2011 pulled a publicity stunt — in conjunction with MetalSucks — in which they attempted to convince their fanbase (and black metal diehards) that they had turned into a black metal band. Saffer has provided us with a whole batch of outtake photos from the IWABO black metal shoot, and we are now providing those to you.
“A little back story behind this shoot. I am and have always been a massive black metal super nerd. As I was starting my career as a music photographer, I would always rep Darkthrone, Limbonic Art, Satyricon, etc. as my entire t-shirt collection at the time was mostly Norwegian black metal. I ended up being known as the black metal guy in the metalcore scene as I was mostly photographing hardcore, metalcore, etc. (I do dig all of that as well, of course.)
“I was lucky enough to be IWABO’s go-to photographer for a number of years throughout their career doing their press photos, album photos, and live shots. In 2010 I did a tour with IWABO as their photographer and assistant tour manager. I had been working on a project called ‘Daughters of Darkness’ which was, at the time, in its beginning stages (it has since been released as a book). The project featured women in corpse paint, and of course IWABO had seen me working on the project and editing photos.
“About a year or so later, they were coming through my area and they had an idea to do a sort of troll-shoot and they figured I would be perfect for it. The idea was to do a full corpse paint black metal shoot and publish a formal announcement that IWABO had gone black metal, which would stoke a little fire beneath the black metal community to say “STAY OUT OF OUR BLACK METAL!” and, similarly, make IWABO fans upset that they would stick to a single genre outside of the 30 or so they normally adventured to on each album. So, the band came in, did their makeup using some I had around the studio for the ‘Daughters of Darkness’ project, and ended up borrowing a few of my black metal band shirts to give it a bit more validity. We even threw some corn starch on them for good measure. The idea was to get some actually serious black metal looking images as well as some REALLY silly IWABO style photos, and we got a bunch of each.
“Later on, MetalSucks would do one of their iconic ‘Completely Unreadable Band Logo’ contests with the new black metal IWABO logo, then publish the announcement that the band had gone black metal with one of the more serious images I shot, and IWABO issued a high contrast black metal style shirt with their logo up front and a photo in the back.
“A little while after that, the band premiered the new single with one of the sillier black metal photos. The ruse was over — of course IWABO had not gone black metal, they were still IWABO — and both the black metal and IWABO communities breathed a sigh a relief. But personally, I’m still waiting for the black metal IWABO album. I truly miss IWABO and hope they come back one day.”
You can have a look at those photos below. The band’s lineup at the time of shoot featured Krysta Cameron, Steven Bradley, John Ganey, Mike Martin and Mikey Montgomery.