H&M has been selling hip-hop, punk and metal for a while now: Enter any of their stores and you’ll find Metallica crop-tops, Biggie Smalls crewnecks and pre-distressed Ramones tanks. But their latest foray into music is the weirdest one yet.
First uncovered by sites like MetalSucks, it seems the popular Swedish retailer has created entire backstories for a range of imaginary bands with names like Mortus, Lany, and Mystic Triangle. Those “bands” are the subject of their new range of t-shirts and jackets.
But taking the cult appropriation made famous by brands like Flying Coffin and Actual Pain one step further, H&M has created mythologies for these bands, including tales of tape trading, references to their influence on bands like Meshuggah and Nightwish and even fake album covers. They enlisted the help of a pretend publicist with a cool Swedish name, who’s been sending press releases to metal sites, and even made YouTube pages and fake, 1990s website facsimiles.
To metalheads, it seems condescending, even insulting, but what’s worse: Playing off of the genre’s conventions, or selling straight up Slayer tees to teens? At least this way headbangers can lord their superiority complex over shit-talking high schoolers who brag about how “hippie metal gurus” Mystic Triangle were their gateway to Earth, or now Grey’s first album totally owns anything by Within Temptation.
There’s speculation now that this is actually an elaborate troll job by a metalhead fed up with the constant co-opting of the genre. MetalInjection points out that at least one of these imaginary bands has NSBM and Neo-Nazi ties, which seems like a step too far to sell $14 t-shirts, and the publicity behind these bands has distanced itself from the clothing brand.
Whatever the case, H&M, or the agency behind them, or the trolls behind this, deserve some credit for how authentic some of these materials look. The clothes are, of course, hokey, but some of the album art they’ve made is flat out convincing. Can you tell which of these is real and which is fake?
What about this press shot: Which do you think comes from the brains of a digital agency, and which do you think was shot in the ravishing forestial grimoires of northern Norway?
Hell, they’ve even made some fake music.