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The 10 Best Styles Of Metal Battle Vest, By Photographer Peter Beste

Renowned heavy metal photographer Peter Beste describes which battle vests will always rule.

If anyone deserves to be designated a historian of battle vests — the patch-covered denim jackets that metalheads use as the ultimate ongoing arts and crafts project — it would be Peter Beste. The American photographer rose to widespread acclaim with True Norwegian Black Metal, a collection of photographs chronicling the second wave of black metal in Scandinavia. During that time, and while attending metal shows, Peter witnessed the stylistic versatility of corpse paint, spikes, and of course, battle vests.

Peter Beste Defenders Cover

In his new book Defenders Of The Faith, Peter chronicles these pieces of heavy metal armor in all their forms. And while the uninitiated may think of battle vests as pretty one-note — you got your Slayer backpatch, you got your Motörhead pin, boom, you’re good — Beste’s book shows the just how varied and unique each battle vest can be, whether it’s hand-painted leather or hunks of denim stitched together with dental floss.

We asked Peter to tell us about his favorite favorite styles of battle vests throughout the book. Here are the vest traditions he sees as the most immortal:

The German super-detailed vest

Peter Beste Defenders 11 German Detail Vest

This was the most detailed and intricate vest I photographed. Amazing precision work. I see new details each time I look at this one. One cool little detail that comes to mind is that he stitched the word Cliff’ onto the gravestone on his Master of Puppets patch. Like some of the other styles I will mention, the Germans are the masters of this style.”

The black magic marker vest

Peter Beste Defenders 2 Fenriz

Black magic marker on denim. Old school greatness by Fenriz of Darkthrone. I didn’t ask him about it, but I guess he did it free-hand.”

The band tribute vest

Peter Beste Defenders 3 Saxon Vest

One of my favorite back patches ever on this lovely old school Saxon tribute vest. It was truly an honor for Biff [Bylord, founding Saxon vocalist] to write the intro for Defenders Of The Faith.”

The genre-tribute vest

Peter Beste Defenders 4 Nwobhm

This is a NWOBHM genre-specific vest. Rarely have I seen a genre represented so well on one vest. From the sewn-on Union Jack flag and the excellent patch choices to the great use of color, this is a true beauty!”

The dog vest

Peter Beste Defenders 5 Dog Vest

Worn by dog Sherlock and made by Australian company Pet Haus. Great place to put your Running Wild, Bark At The Moon and Unleashed patches. I’ve also seen a vest made for a cat. It was simply the leg from black jeans with arm/feet holes cut out with some black metal patches on it.”

The German heavy metal club vest

Peter Beste Defenders 6 German Fan Club Vest

These are quite rare since the patches are hard to come by and usually require membership in the club before receiving. Most of these old MCs were a handful of friends who lived in a similar area (often in Germany) and would make a a handful of patches for their crew. I’ve only seen club patches for sale once or twice. It’s very rare because they’re both personal and limited number-wise.”

The ugly death metal vests

Peter Beste Defenders 7 Ugly Hand Stitched Vests

Crudely stitched gore and death metal patches. Often times, these vests emit the strangest odors.”

The hand-painted tribute vest

Peter Beste Defenders 8 Celtic Frost Vest

I’ve seen some amazing combination of painted and patched vests that were beautiful. It takes a certain kind of fanaticism to collect this many patches of the same band. There’s only one band that I own every patch they’ve ever made, and that is Eternal Champion. I will probably make an all-EC vest one of these days.”

The budget vest

Peter Beste Defenders 9 Hand Drawn Vests

When your parents won’t give you money to buy patches so you make your own with multi-colored highlighters. I drew logos all over my jeans, backpacks and body. This was during my 80s glam rock phase when I was nine or ten years old. I can still draw that Poison logo perfectly. Much respect!”

The trench coat vest

Peter Beste Defenders 10 Trench Coat Vest

Far too over the top for your average metal fan. Be prepared to become a meme with one of these!”

Peter Beste’s Defenders Of The Faith is out now on Sacred Bones Books, and is available for purchase.

Posted on October 7th 2019, 7:00p.m.
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