When you begin to think of legendary sneaker collaborators it’s highly-unlikely that any of the first names that spring to mind are heavy metal bands. Without a doubt it’s going to be the likes of Kanye West and Travis Scott, who are both icons in their own rights, so don’t get us twisted. Today however, we’ve been delving deep into the archives to shine the light on some of the greatest metal and rock inspired sneaker collaborations of all time, and there are some absolute bangers out there!
While heavy metal music isn’t as popular as it once was amongst the youth of today (no punk intended), it’s important to remember how much of a cultural impact the genre has had over the years, defining a whole new attitude and sense of style that’s still as relevant as ever today. So strap yourselves in, throw those devil horns in the air and get ready to discover the greatest metal sneakers of all time!
Brookyln Projects x Nike SB Dunk High "Reign In Blood" (Slayer)
Formed in 1981 by Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, American thrash metal band Slayer are arguably one of the most influential bands in the genre, with their 1986 hit Reign In Blood often regarded as one of the best heavy metal albums of all time. When NYC-based skate store Brooklyn Projects teamed up with Nike SB in 2011, team member Dom DeLuca used the iconic album as his inspiration for the sneakers. Decked out in similar blood red and brown hues as the album’s demonic artwork, the sneakers came packaged in custom-made blood bags, came with a matching T-shirt and were limited to just 666 pairs.
Metallica x Vans "Sad But True" Pack
When it comes to metal bands they don’t come much more revered than Metallica, after all the four horsemen have remained the kings of the genre since the launch of their legendary studio debut “Kill ‘Em All” back in 1983. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of their 1991 self-titled album, often referred to as “The Black Album”, the band released two pairs of Vans (a Slip-On and an Old-Skool) that display promotional artwork (designed by Pushead) for the single “Sad But True”.
Deftones x Nike Dunk High
Sacramento-based nu-metal heroes Deftones are arguably one of the most genre-bending bands on the scene, combining crushing guitar lines with melodic vocals that are often reminiscent of shoegaze bands. By 2003 the group already had a cult following, with Nike reaching out and asking them to collaborate on a pair of Dunk Highs. The duo kept things plain and simple with an effortlessly clean green and black colour-blocked look, while the Deftones logo was placed on the lateral heel in white. Only 40 pairs were ever made, meaning these are one of the rarest Dunks in existence.
Iron Maiden x Vans "The Number of the Beast" Pack
It’s hard to think of heavy metal without Iron Maiden popping into mind, as the British legends have been rocking since they were formed in East London way back in 1975, producing over 40 albums since. Back in 2012 the band joined forces with Californian footwear label Vans to launch a collection titled “The Number of the Beast”, named after the 1982 album and title track. Consisting of a Sk8-Hi and a Slip-On, the pack showcased the album’s artwork and came packaged in limited-edition boxes that any sneakerhead would be proud to have in the collection.
Metallica x Vans "Kill 'Em All" Pack
Cropping up once again, it seems Metallica are quite the regulars when it comes to collaborative capsules with Vans. Back in 2012 the band released a pack that once again consisted of the Sk8-Hi and the Slip-On, although this time around the artwork was taken straight from the cover of their debut record “Kill ‘Em All”. The record was one of just 3 Metallica albums to feature original bassist Cliff Burton before his untimely death in 1986, with many hardcore fans arguing that the band changed direction after Cliff’s passing.
Sub Pop Records x Nike SB Blazer Elite
Back in 2009, Nike’s dedicated skateboarding division joined forces with Seattle-based record label Sub Pop Records to launch a limited-edition version of the SB Blazer Elite. While Sub Pop aren’t strictly a metal label, they were the first to sign bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney in the late 1980s, championing the grunge scene that took the music industry by storm. Interestingly enough the label followed a strictly “anti-corporate” mindset in its early years, although in 1995 it sold 49% of its stake to Warner Bros, which is likely why this collaboration came to fruition.
Black Sabbath x Dr. Martens
When it comes to heavy metal it’s virtually a sin not to mention Black Sabbath, as Ozzy Osbourne’s first-ever band pretty much single-handedly created the genre. What’s even more impressive is how the group pumped out two epic albums within 1 year of each other. Both “Black Sabbath” and “Paranoid” debuted in 1970 and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the records, the band teamed up with Vandal High back in 2020 to launch the “1460 Sabbath” and the “1461 Sabbath”. The shoes both showcase artwork as well as limited-edition purple AirWair branding.
Nike SB Dunk High "Iron Maiden"
Heavy Metal pioneers Iron Maiden make the cut once again, although this time around we’re taking a look at an unreleased sample that first surfaced back in 2006. The Nike SB Dunk High “Iron Maiden” never saw a full release, with sample pairs gifted strictly to friends and family of the band and Nike employees. Showcasing a totally transparent Swoosh, the pair featured the band’s mascot “Eddie” on each side as well as embroidered logos on the heels. Famously worn by Travis Scott in February 2021, the pair are currently one of the most expensive Dunks to buy on the resell market.
Nike Vandal High Supreme EX "Heavy Metal"
While not a collaboration with a band or record label like most of the other features on this list, back in 2009 Nike decided to honour the entire genre by releasing a special-edition version of the undefined that was dubbed the “Heavy Metal”. Decked out in a full-white look, the pair’s quilted upper was accentuated with silver-tone metal eyelets and studs across the ankle strap, paying homage to the classic studded belt worn by many metal icons over the years. To complete the look, the Nike logo was embroidered onto the strap in an AC/DC-esque font.
Metallica x Vans "Logo" Pack
Just when you thought you wouldn’t see another Metallica collaboration in this list, the legends strike again as we look to their 2018 effort with longtime partners Vans. Instead of opting for classic album artwork, the band kept things clean and subtle by designing black sneakers and apparel with their iconic logo placed on top in white. Both the Sk8-Hi and Slip-On were released in plush leather iterations along with a full apparel collection.