Metalheads Troll H&M For Making Up Fake Metal Bands

I am old enough to remember a time when it was considered practically sacrilegious to purchase band paraphernalia from a mall store. Like, unless you wanted people to think you were some kind of poseur, you got your shit from an actual concert you attended, a thrift store, a small independent store or as a hand-me-down of some kind. Also, you sewed your own patches on, and if you did not actually listen to the bands you had shirts of or patches of, you would be immediately shamed by your peers. Possibly shunned.

Things are not this way now. It is in no way uncommon to see people wearing fashion-y band shirts of bands they have definitely never listened to or perhaps even heard of. Personally, I still won’t do this because I feel weird about it, but whatever. Times have changed.

In fact, they have changed so much that it apparently doesn’t even matter if the bands are even real bands anymore!

Recently, H&M came out with a series of t-shirts and patches featuring metal bands they had completely made up, out of thin air.

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Soon after, a mysterious “Swedish underground metal production agency” called “Strong Scene Productions” popped up on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, claiming to be working with H&M to promote the line of merchandise. They claimed all the bands used in the merchandise were just so underground that no one had ever heard of them, and that they were, in conjunction with H&M, releasing an album filled with songs previously only heard on traded underground mix-tapes.

They even sent out the following press release.

Swedish underground metal promotional agency STRONG SCENE PRODUCTIONS was pleasantly surprised when Swedish clothing industry giant HENNES & MAURITZ decided to honour legendary underground metal acts from their roster in H & M’s latest fashion collection.

Now STRONG SCENE PRODUCTIONS is happy to provide a musical trip down in memory lane in support of HENNES & MAURITZ Heavy & Metal clothing line showcasing the talents and forgotten jewels of global underground metal music.

As illustrated by the bomber jacket and t-shirts worn by the models of H & M, the new items feature logos from long-forgotten underground goth- and thrash acts such as the French LANY, Mexican MORTUS, American “cosmic hippie metal” -gurus MYSTIC TRIANGLE and GREY from Germany – the originator of the whole symphonic female metal-genre.

These groups together with the likes of extreme metallers MOTMROS and neo-folkers THE ONE formed the basis for a whole generation of music in 1980’s, music that was traded on tapes rather than as files, music that served as an inspiration to all of the most successful bands still recording today, from Meshuggah to the likes of Nightwish.

As most of the bands featured on the HENNES & MAURITZ clothing line are from long before the age of digital music, there is now a compilation project in the works by STRONG SCENE PRODUCTIONS, collecting together all of the works of these long forgotten jewels of metal music that never hit it big to the masses until now – thanks to the talented designers at HENNES & MAURITZ.

Sites like MetalSucks and Scrapyard Magazine, immediately figured out that these bands were not real and neither was Strong Scene Productions–pointing out that the only people claiming to have heard of the bands on Reddit had accounts created mere hours beforehand.

Several songs from these imaginary bands also popped up on YouTube, including one hilariously titled “Vaginal’s Juice Dripping Into Cadaverous”–supposedly by a Malaysian death metal band called YVEAH.

But then, Metal Injection reported that some of the manufactured promotional stuff from these bands actually used Nazi imagery. Like, pictures of Hitler and references to NSBM, which is National Socialist Black Metal. They got in touch with H&M, who said they had nothing to do with the whole campaign.

They also noticed that Henri Sorvali, the guitarist from real bands Finntroll and Moonsorrow, had been tweeting about this “release” as if it were real.

It turns out that H&M actually did have nothing to do with any of this, and that they whole thing was an incredibly elaborate hoax cooked up by Sorvali and some friends as sort of an art project/joke on H&M making up fake bands for fashion purposes. Which is super, super brilliant.

Sorvali spoke to Noisey about the hoax:

Okay, real talk, Henri – do any of the bands on Strong Scene Productions actually exist?
No. Every single band was created on the basis of the patches in the H&M spring collection clothes.

Is this a backlash against the commodification of metal by high street retailers?
Partially, yes. But we also wanted to point out the fact that you cannot commercialise a subculture without actually knowing all the different aspects of it. Knowledge on your product is essential in marketing, and Strong Scene supports self-awareness and education for everyone on the matter. And no, I also haven’t been hired for a job by H&M either, which the wildest rumors claimed!

This all seems like a lot of effort just to troll H&M. So the real question is, why bother?
The purpose of the group (consisting of literally tens of people from different areas of music and media around Scandinavia) was to create discussion on the fact that metal culture is more than just “cool” looking logos on fashionable clothes, and has many more aesthetic and ideological aspects in different subgenres than what some corporations are trying to express. The metal scene is varied, controversial and a sort of a wolf you can’t chain into a leash and expect it to behave on your terms like a dog. Strong Scene as a collective has absolutely no political nor ideological intentions, and is only bringing the conversation to the level it should be discussed at. Think of us as the one-time “Yes Men” of metal music.

You’re in a metal band yourself – Finntroll. Any connection between the subject matter on the albums (battling trolls etc) and the online trolling we see today?
While this would be a rather clever place to actually drum for Finntroll´s media publicity, this has nothing to do with that. You call this trolling, we call it cultural jamming. And Finntroll just kicks out the jams in other things!

Personally, I think this whole thing is absolutely incredible. I am truly embarrassed to say that I was definitely fooled, and in fact wrote a whole giant thing right before this came out about H&M making up entire bands for the purpose of selling shirts. I should have known better, because hey, people who would buy band t-shirts from H&M without knowing the band, or who would buy pants with band patches already sewn onto them, probably are not all that invested in those bands being real. They’re just buying it because it looks cool, not because they have any deep passion for the art form. It’s pretty unlikely that this whole thing would have really be a worthwhile investment for H&M, particularly when it was so easy to get caught.

I am honestly not really sure where I come down on anymore the idea of wearing band t-shirts for “fashion only” purposes. It’s still not something I would do, personally, but I realize that attitudes like the one I had as a teenager probably made a lot of people feel hesitant to actually get into some cool shit for fear of being ridiculed as a “poseur” for not being into it authentically enough. Which, let’s just say it, is also kind of crappy. I kind of figure that someone wearing a t-shirt of a band they’ve never heard of is probably pretty insecure on some level, and adding to that isn’t a very kind thing to do.

However–when it comes to a major retailer actually making up bands for the purpose of selling clothing? That’s pretty crappy–not to mention a great way to embarrass your customers when they go out into the world wearing that shit. Hopefully, this whole thing will teach H&M a lesson about doing that.

[Metal Injection]

[MetalSucks]

[Scrapyard Magazine]