Shirt Stains: “I Want Your Skull” Edition
I need your skull.
Skulls may be the most cliched and overused symbol in all of metal. It comes out just ahead of 666, inverted crucifixes, and pot leafs. And why the skull? I suppose it’s kind of scary. If you’re a 5 year old. It probably doesn’t help that skeletons are frequently used for Halloween decorations. And pirate hats. And baby carriers. It’s been done to death, pun completely intended.
Bullet For My Valentine – Skull and Roses
What the hell is that skull doing? I’m not being rhetorical. I seriously want to know from the artist what that skull is doing. Because it sure looks like the shirt has a skull sucking on a bone like it’s a dick. Okay, maybe I’m just reading too much into it. What else does this shirt have? Roses that could be straight out of the Georgia O’Keeffe vagina flowers collection. Probably a coincidence, right? It’s not like there’s a third part of this shirt that could be mistaken for sexual innuendo.
Hmmm, what are those two big white things above the skull? Cock-and-ball shaped mushrooms? Nipple-tipped cauliflower? I really don’t know, but if you wear this shirt within 500 feet of an elementary school, you get put on a list. The bright colors are sure to help the authorities spot you from a mile away.
Judging by how part of their name is covered up, I think Bullet For My Valentine wanted to hide from Hot Topic’s “Nipples and Dicks” clothing line.
Exodus – Cliché Hat Trick
Exodus: We’d like a giant skull on our shirt.
Artist: Okay, no problem. What else?
Exodus: What do you mean what else?
Artist: Well, it’s kind of boring with just a skull.
Exodus: Put a 666 on it.
Artist: Excuse me?
Exodus: Put a 666 on the skull.
Artist: Umm… but… that doesn’t really make much sense.
Exodus: Well make it make sense.
Artist: Hmm…well I guess I can put some demon horns on it. That’ll have it make sense. Sort of.
Exodus: Put four horns on it.
Artist: What? Why?
Exodus: Because four is more than two, dummy.
Artist: What color do you want this cliched abomination?
Artist: But the shirt is black.
Exodus: Fine. The opposite of black.
Artist: So you want an all-white giant demon skull with four horns and a 666 on it.
Artist: Fine. Whatever. I get paid either way.
Hatebreed – Space Demon Sperm Skull
We all know what Hatebreed sounds like. Punishing straightforward hardcore with touches of metal. Of course, you’d never know that looking at this embarrassment to artwork. It’s almost as if this shirt was intended for another band. Maybe it’s one of those foreign knockoffs like a cheap Spider-Man figure labeled “Aranchnid Guy” or generic cereal called “Frosted Flokes.”
That Space Demon Sperm Skull thing is actually laughing. He knows that this shirt makes no sense. He knows he is the offspring of an all-night White Castle and speed bender capped off with repeated viewings of Heavy Metal. He’s saying “HEE HEE YEEEEEEEAAAAAAH MOTHERFUCKERS. THIS MAKES NO SENSE! I LOVE COCAINE AND ONION RINGS!”
Avenged Sevenfold – Biker Skull Guy
Who designed this shirt? Rob Liefeld? Let’s try to look beyond the insanity of a giggling skull with wings on top of a biker’s body. I know, it’s hard to do, but let’s try.
What is going on with this perspective? His right hand is a twisted, gnarled mess with giant fingers only seen in foam form at wrestling matches. Is this guy’s left arm completely atrophied? Why is his head so big and his torso so crumpled? And what’s with the hat? This isn’t an Archie comic.
There’s just so much going on in this shirt and it’s all terrible. It can easily fit under the “Design Buffet” moniker. They even managed to cram in a second skull with bat wings in the upper corner. Why? M Shadows, that’s why!
This shirt is so bad, Avenged Sevenfold put their name on it twice. Three times if you count the “A7X” on this creature’s ascot. Yeah I know it’s a bandana, but for all intents and purposes, that’s an ascot.
Pantera – Skull Surprise
There is no shortage of skull-related Pantera shirts out there. There’s so many, you’d think that Pantera would be Spanish for “shitty skull merch.”
Look at those two human skulls. They look so surprised. Between the gaping mouths and wide eyes (seriously, why do skulls have eyes?) you’d think they just won the lottery. It’s as if they just found out they’re going to be on a Pantera shirt. “Really? Pantera? No way! EEEEE I’m so excited!”
Just for good measure, the shirt manages to also include a non-human skull. Pantera is an equal-opportunity skull user. While we’re at it, let’s throw in a razor while we’re at it. Still, I’d take all of that over the Confederate flag guitar and giant Texas in the background. Fuck Texas and fuck the Confederacy. The South isn’t rising again. The South can barely get out of their Laz-E-Boys to reach for the KFC-greased remote to turn up the volume for Duck Dynasty.
Misfits – Only Skull
I would be remiss not to mention the Misfits in a column about shirts with skulls on them. After all, their symbol “The Crimson Ghost” is just a big skull face. It’s big, simple, and easily recognizable. Say what you will about the symbol being put on just about everything, but it’s a confirmation that people know what it is. The Misfits are now a brand and I don’t fault them for cashing in.
I do fault them for messing with the Crimson Ghost in ridiculous ways, though. Would you want a t-shirt with Jerry Only’s melting face on it? No way. Did Jerry open up the Ark of the Covenant? Is he playing the role of Clay Face in the next Batman movie? Did he bite into a Hot Pocket, sending molten hot cheese and sauce onto one side of his face?
I know they were trying to combine the famous skull with the Misfits famous devil lock, but it just looks so silly. It probably doesn’t help that it’s gigantic. Why mess with a good, simple thing that everyone knows and likes? Because there’s always money to be made on the off-chance that your fans have really, really bad taste. Much like these other bands on this list.