Black Metal Tattoos:

The very name “black metal” conjures up images of corpse paint, dark forests, and burning churches.

Behemoth “Evangelion” album cover by Damien Counihan.
A neo traditional burning church done by Alex Dörfler in Germany.

Black metal is a genre of heavy metal that started in the 1980’s with bands like Venom, Bathory, Celtic Frost, and Hellhammer. Coming out of England, Venom’s first two albums “Welcome to Hell” and “Black Metal” are often called the first black metal albums made, especially as Venom coined the term. Bands like the above mentioned formed the first wave of black metal, with the second wave coming out of the 90’s.

Celtic Frost album cover “Morbid Tales” by Mike Roberts at Port’s End, OR.
Gaahl portrait done by Uncle Allan in Berlin

The first wave of black metal was full of satanic words and imagery in their album art, music videos, and merchandise. Basically anti Christianity at its core. The second wave of black metal that came around in the 90’s was much more influenced by Norwegian black metal artist “Euronymous.”

Bathory Goat done by Georgia O at Southern Scars Outlaw Tattoo.
King Diamond portrait done by Ick Abrams.

Darkthrone became one of the most influential death metal bands coming out of the 90’s, despite their first album arguably being death metal. Their sound quickly developed and changed, and they were able to help put Norwegian black metal on the map.

Realistic burning church and skull done by Benjamin Trübner.
Black metal lady head done by Ice Abrams.

Norway is famous for black metal not only because of the music, but also because of what happened in Norway supposedly because of the music. In the 1990’s Norway became famous for the extreme music coming out of the country, and the mayhem its listeners carried out. This included the burning of traditional wooden Norwegian churches called staves. In June 1992 the first church was burned in the name of black metal, followed by three more churches being set ablaze that summer, and over 20 burnings over the course of 4 years by either black metal band members, or fans. Then in 1994, Varg Vikernes of the influential one man black metal band “Burzum” was found guilty of burning down Åsane Church and Stortveit Church in Bergen, Skold church in Vindafjord, and Holmenkollen chapel in Oslo. He was also found guilty of killing Aarseth, but claimed it was self defence.

Burning church by Renko Edge at Clan of Tusk Tattoo in Bruge.
Black metal shadow puppet done by Stephanie Cuevas Lost Harbor Tattoo Shop.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, atmospheric and ambient black metal started becoming more popular thanks to bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, Agalloch, Drudkh, Panopticom, and Alcest.

Darkthrone logo by Benjamin Toner at Hand of Hope Tattoo in Stockport.
Black metal lady and burning church done by Uncle Allan in Berlin.

Black metal has a very particular sound, and the different sub genres and waves of black metal have at least some of them in common. Much of black metal is known for its lower quality production, giving it a very DIY sound. Particularly the early stuff coming out of Norway. They tend to have heavily distorted guitars, lots of reverb, and low end bass (the sound not the instrument). Most black metal also has harsh guttural vocals, and fast pounding drums that are heavy on the double bass and snare.

American traditional burning church by Sebastian Berthe in Regensburg, Germany.
Arch Goat art done by Robert Z from Slovakia.

Some of the most popular black metal bands today (not necessarily still vatic bands) include Behemoth, Darkthrone, Burzum, Bathory, Immortal, Enslaved, and Cradle of Filth.

Portrait of Nergal from Behemoth done by Raul Khasanjanov.
Cute black metal portrait done at Tattoo Eternal Ink in Sweden.

Because black metal in general is either pagan or satanic in its themes, the imagery that comes with it often is too, including tattoos. Popular black metal tattoos include black metal band members, burning churches, skulls, goats, devils, and other pagan or satanic symbols.

Black metal corpse paint by Jose Daniel Valencia Giraldo at Black Lines Matter Columbia.
Burning church by Drew Gäben Hibler tattoo artist at Old Soul Tattoo. Gallatin, TN.

What’s your favourite black metal band?

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Artist of the Month: Alex Dahood

Alex is an artist working out of Santa la Muerte Tattoo in Madrid.

Realistic tiger eyes on the forearm.
Ariel from the Little Mermaid.

He has three styles that he works in, and he does them well. Realism, micro realism, and cartoon.

Micro realistic pooch head with a dash of colour.
The Mad Hatter and Alice, a Disney classic.

His realistic works are heavy on the black and grey, but he does use colour sparingly in these to make certain aspects pop, such as eyes and mouths in portraits of both people and animals.

Full realistic back piece of a snarling tiger. Black and grey with green eyes.

His cartoon pieces are like plucking a screenshot straight out of a movie or show, with great detail and colour throughout.

A classic Homer Simpson piece from Treehouse of Horror.

His micro realism pieces are great for those who want a small tattoo, and the amount of detail he’s able to pack into such a small space is unbelievable.

A portrait of Tupac done in black and grey.

If you’re passing through Madrid don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with Alex via his Instagram linked above.

Joaquin Phoenix’ portrayal of The Joker.

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Boost Your Immune System With Tattoos

Full back done by Joel Soon at Sanctum Tattoo.

Over the last few years there have been numerous studies looking at tattoos and their effect on the immune system.

And for all you fellow tattoo collectors I have good news. Tattoos do in fact have a positive impact on your immune system!

Are they going to keep COVID-19 away from you? Unfortunately, no, but people who have more than one tattoo generally have a stronger and healthier immune system than those who do not.

Full back done by Don Ritson at Rebel Waltz Tattoo.

In one test, a group of 29 people were tested before and after visiting a tattoo shop in Alabama. The researchers tested levels of cortisol, which is one of the body’s indicators of stress levels, as well as Immunoglobin A, which is in simple terms is an antibody that helps our bodies fight infections . This study showed that those going in with no tattoos yet showed a greater strain on their immune system with a dip in their Immunoglobin A levels, while those going in for their second, third, or even tenth or more tattoo, actually experienced a large boost in their Immunoglobin A levels immediately following the tattoo. The full test can be read here “Tattoos to Toughen Up.”

Big Hannya mask done by Hide Ichibay at Three Tides Tattoo.

Another test done in American Samoa by the same researcher took 25 saliva samples at the start and end of tattoo sessions on both tourists and locals getting tattooed. They also measured the tattoo recipients height, weight, and fat density to account for general health. Again, both cortisol and Immonoglobin A were extracted and tested, as well as an inflammatory marker C-reactive protein. A similar finding was concluded here, with Immonoglobin A staying remaining higher in the bloodstream even after tattoos had healed. As well, people with more and larger tattoos tested higher Immonoglobin A levels than those with less or no tattoos prior to the start of getting tattooed. This effect also appears to be dependent on getting multiple tattoos and not just having some time pass after getting tattooed once.

Full front torso done by Rich Hardy.

Of course having lots of tattoos won’t guarantee your health, but based on testing it can be beneficial for general immune health, and in particular skin injuries and health.

Both studies were done by Dr. Christopher Lynn.

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Peaky Blinders Tattoos:

Peaky Blinders is the incredibly popular British tv show following a gang called “The Peaky Blinders” in mainly Birmingham, immediately following the First World War.

Neo traditional Tommy portrait by Paula Canelejo
Tiny realistic portrait of Tommy by Dani Ginzburg

Every episode is written by Steven Knight, and is loosely based on both historical gangs in England, and a story the writers father used to tell him about his grandfather having him deliver notes to his uncles, the Sheldons, who became the shows “Shelbys.”

American traditional Tommy portrait and rose by Matthew Limbers
Shelby skull by Marcello Barros

The history of the “real” peaky blinders differs from place to place, with some sources saying they died out by the 1890s. While they weren’t the ruling gang in Birmingham by the end of World War I, it looks like they probably still existed, even though the bigger “Birmingham Boys” became the top dogs by 1910. Peaky Blinders also eventually became a term to describe all gangs coming out of the Birmingham area. In both the show and real life, the gang is made up of mainly young unemployed men, looking to gain power and money through robbery, violence, and controlling both legal and illegal gambling. In the show many of the men also fought in World War I.

Blackwork Tommy by Valentina
American traditional Arthur done by Edo Sent

The name Peaky Blinders comes from the clothes worn by both the real and fictional gangsters. Their signature style includes tailored jackets, overcoats, waistcoats, silk scarves, bell-bottom trousers, and “peaked” caps. In the show, the gang is famous for sewing razorblades into their caps as their signature weapon, but realistically these blades wouldn’t have been affordable at the time and weren’t used until around 1890, when the Peaky Blinders started to lose power.

American traditional Tommy and flower by Ju Lindien
Large realistic portrait of Tommy by Alexandr Ramm

Many people are drawn to the show for its style, and that translates into the tattoos we see being made. Most Peaky Blinders tattoos are done in a classic traditional style, keeping it bold and classy, just like the show. Other styles include neo traditional, black work, and realism. Most of the tattoos I found are of Tommy, but the other Shelby brothers also make fine pieces.

Neo traditional black and red Tommy and flowers done by Szofi
Black and grey John portrait done by Choc Inked

Who is your favourite character?

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Artist of the Month: Max Rathbone

Max Rathbone is the owner of Second City Tattoo Club in Birmingham UK.

Max has his own style, mixing Japanese and other Asian motifs with Neo-traditional colours and styling.

Bold as hell red and black neck peony.
Large piece from the back of the neck leading up onto the head featuring a beautiful peony and a wine corker.

If you’re looking for some sweet flower pieces, Max is your guy. He of course tattoos other designs and pieces, but he’s well known for his flowers, particularly peonies and cherry blossoms, pairing them with snakes, skulls, dragons, etc.

Full negative space sleeve, heavy on the black and featuring peonies and cherry blossoms.
Full back, front, and sleeves. Ouch!

The majority of Max’s work is colour, but he also does amazing black and grey and blackwork.

Black and grey throat piece of a stag beetle and cherry blossoms.
Full rib panel with a cat and fruit.

While he does do some smaller scale pieces, the majority of his work is quite large. Things like back pieces, sleeves, and torsos.

Full colourful chest piece of an angry snake and peony flowers.
Quartz skull, snake, and peony back piece.

When doing smaller scale work, Max doesn’t shy away from the “job stoppers”. Taking a look at his Instagram you’ll find neck pieces and hands galore!

Cherry blossoms on the hand.
Matching red and yellow/orange shoulder peonies.

If you’re in the area, definitely make sure to check his work out and book yourself some time. To do that, check out his Instagram and send him an email. https://www.instagram.com/maxrathbone_tattooer/?hl=en

Winnipeg Artist 13: Mathew Machado

Classic panther and snake going at it.
What’s a more classic elbow tattoo?

Mathew is a tattooer at Rebel Waltz Tattoos in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Mathew does crisp American traditional tattoos the way they were meant to be made. Bold as hell!

A small, classic eagle.
“Working class” skull piece.

If you take a look through Mathew’s work, either online or in person, you’ll see he really does the classics. His Instagram is full of eagles, pinups, sailors and pirates, skulls, snakes, and more.

An all black, classic Japanese/American dragon head.
Another classic old school piece. The Rock of Ages.

If you’re looking for a bit of a Japanese twist to an American style, Mathew is also your guy. He’s done both dragon heads and full bodied dragons, and Japanese flowers.

A more Japanese styled chrysanthemum flower.
Crisp lines on this rose and cross.

Mathew mentored under Don Ritson, the owner of Rebel Waltz, and you can certainly see Don’s influence in Mathews work. Both artists stick to a very traditional colour palette of mainly black, red, some green, and small amounts of yellow to make pieces pop.

Skull butterfly for a small filler piece.

Check out his work on Instagram @mathew.machado where you’ll find his email for making appointments. You can also watch Rebel Waltz’ Instagram to see when Mathew and the other artists there are doing walk-ins.

Beautiful pirate lady portrait, done as quite a large thigh piece.

Zombie Tattoos:

The “original” zombie has come a long way. From White Zombie in 1932 (often considered the first zombie movie) to shows like The Walking Dead and movies like Shaun of the Dead and World War Z, zombies have been around in popular culture for almost 100 years.

Zombieland’s Bill Murray done by Craig Mackay in the UK in a black and grey realistic style.
Realistic black and grey zombie head done by Pavel Polovnikov at Red Berry Tattoo Studio in Poland.

Some popular zombie movies to get your tattoo ideas started include Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Zombieland, Zombieland Double-Tap, Planet Terror, Dead Snow, Shaun of the Dead, I am Legend, and The Return of the Living Dead, to name a few.

American traditional frosty zombie done by Dan Gagné at Mortem Tattoo in Montreal.
Realistic colour Dawn of the Dead zombie done by Kristian Kimonides, in Melbourne Australia.

In tattoo form many people choose to get their zombies in a realistic style, with both black and grey or colour being popular.

Cute cartoon zombie done by Joshua Hoiberg.
Huge realistic colour Walking Dead sleeve done by Taryn Lee in Nottingham, UK.

American traditional or neo traditional is also a popular choice when getting the undead inked.

Classic Shaun of the Dead themed piece done by Matthew Limbers at Dearly Departed Tattoo in Milford, Michigan.
Hyper realistic tarman zombie from The Return of the Living Dead, done by Paul Acker at Séance Tattoo Parlour.

As with most spooky tattoos, some people go for “cute”, usually meaning a more new school or cartoon style, or neo traditional.

Fun cartoon zombified Bart Simpson done by Shawn Havron at Artisan Body Piercing and Tattoos in Norfolk VA.
A neo traditional zombie ready to party, done by Moira Ramone in Rotterdam, NL.

What’s your zombie apocalypse plan? Let us know down in the comments!