Anti-Sacred Fashion: The Use of Profane Performative Costumes in the Black Metal Music and Performances of Nergal and Behemoth

Lee Barron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article examines the ways in which fashion and costume represent and communicate distinctive anti-authority sentiments and ideological positions and is based on a case study of the Polish Black Metal artist Adam Darski, otherwise known as Nergal. The article critically explores the ways in which costumes worn by Nergal are confrontational in terms of their subversion of religious garments, adornments, and symbols as part of an artistic and political strategy designed to communicate profane stances and critiques in the context of the Catholic church in Poland. The article investigates the communicative nature of costume and fashion, focusing on popular music, and the genre of heavy metal, and relates this analysis to the sociology of Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss in terms of their conceptions of the sacred and the profane and ritual practice. As such, Nergal (in the music of Behemoth and Me and That Man), via extreme metal music, fuses occultist philosophy with the aesthetic of Black Metal to design and communicate a distinctive oppositional position, in which the use of profane fashion and costume is a central and crucial factor.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFashion, Style and Popular Culture
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Dec 2023

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