Ever pre-order something way in advance and then totally forget you had done so, only for it to arrive unexpectedly on your doorstep deluging you in happiness when you trudge home from work? 

Defenders Of The Faith: The Heavy Metal Photography of Peter Beste, really wasn’t one of those.  I’ve been on tenterhooks for ages, rushing home every day expectantly since it shipped from Sacred Bones Records, quite literally champing at the bit.  Neigh.

Defenders Of The Faith, bearing a back cover endorsement by everybody’s favourite Canadian, Jon Mikl Thor and a foreword by Biff Byford, is a celebration of the tribe via the medium of the heavy metal vest. 

Lovingly photographed by Peter Beste this book is an absolute treasure trove and although nobody involved would say anything so remotely pretentious, I think it makes a strong case for the HM vest as folk art.  I get fascinated by the point at which all these logos and images, something essentially corporate and commercial in nature, fuse into something far more primitive and tribal, something very much other

The vests are incredible, my favourites are the ones which have been painted or designed by the owner, and as much as I love a vest promiscuously splattered with lots of band patches, I have a real weakness for the single artist one – there are great KISS and Saxon ones in evidence. 

It isn’t just vests of course, Beste documents all the glorious and daft excesses of everything in the fan scene affectionately and with a lot of wit.  My fave shot here is one truly brilliant photograph of a fierce-looking audience at a German festival waiting for a band with, I suspect, a very spiky logo to do their thing, while a little girl dressed entirely in pink, wearing big ear defenders draws rainbows with felt tips sat on a step behind. 

If you have any interest in heavy metal, cultural studies and/or great social photography, or just excellent photography then I would say that Defenders Of The Faith, which I have owned for approximately 4 whole hours at the time of writing, is just the book for you.  It completes me and I’m the sort of wimp who only had 4 patches on his denim jacket.  True story. 

Buy it, you won’t regret it.

958 Down (still). 

We’ve got no time for chicks, we’re practicing our licks

PS: Go to the Sacred Bones website, there are proper galleries of non-shite photies there. 

12 thoughts on “Faith = Defended

    1. I only bought it because I have a coffee table with one leg an inch and a half shorter than the others. Plus, it might be handy for clubbing intruders unconscious with, in an emergency.

  1. I never committed to metal enough to have a painted denim. I did however have many a patch and a Newcastle Brown Ale bar towel across the butt of my jeans. Oh the ways of youth.

  2. You can still see vests like those whenever you go to a metal gig. It’s great. Mine was never that well adorned with patches, just a large Dio patch and an Anthrax one. They take up the entire back of the vest. Still, I’d love to see all these photos.

    1. It is an incredible book this, really excellent photography and some of the jackets are such works of art too. Any pics of your jackets? I always rocked more metal patches on my jeans than my jacket – LA Guns, ‘DC, Motorhead and a Heineken bar towel on my last pair, sadly no pics though.

      If you could do that hot waterbottle thing Mike, you might move up the rankings.

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