The Merch Table: Knotfest's monthly guide for must-have band gear

By Bradley Zorgdrager

Though it’s the main way bands make money on the road, merch is rarely given the attention it deserves, aside from maybe a cursory mention for a noteworthy item included in a pre-order launch. With artists and their teams taking time to carefully curate designs and items, it’s time that we set up a Merch Table on Knotfest to show off the wares and wears we admire.

From a well-designed shirt to more creative merchandising that pushes the boundaries of what bands can market, we’ll highlight our favorite forays in metal, hardcore and alternative music here. Hide your wallet—or rather, don’t, these artists deserve your support!

Trevor Scott Strnad Memorial T-Shirt

Somewhat unbelievably, we’ve gone three months since The Black Dahlia Murder vocalist Trevor Strnad left this earthly plane on May 11, 2022. One of metal’s most knowledgeable encyclopedia’s, Strnad deserves to live forever amongst your sickest shirts. (Don’t be surprised if your drawer is magically re-arranged with Carcass, Autopsy and Repulsion on top.)

With a nod to his band’s logo, a frame as creepy as his lyrics and a picture showing off his storied warm smile, the shirt pays tribute to a fallen legend and one of the finest poets and vocalists in death metal—nay, metal as a whole. Proceeds from the sale will help cover expenses incurred by Trevor’s death and benefit Common Ground Resource & Crisis Center.

We miss you, Trevor. RIP.

Carcosa “Restless” Merch Drop

Canuck deathcore dudes Carcosa went from an over-the-top shitpost video to their most somber and serious material yet. “Restless” highlights the Canadian government’s abysmal treatment of Indigenous People, especially in the deadly residential schools. The orange merch collection—including a tie dye shirt, tote bag and stickers—pays homage to a survivor of the school named Phyllis Webstad who had her orange shirt taken away from her on her first day.

Profits from the collection will be donated to the Indian Residential School Society (follow the band on socials to see the total when everything is shipped out). Though it’s sold out, people can donate to IRSS here, while other merch can be snagged here.

Despised Icon Phoenix Suns Basketball Jersey

This basketball jersey proclaims “ICON” atop a purple and orange homage to the Phoenix Suns’ iconic jerseys, a morning star replacing a basketball. That the Montreal band is confident enough to relegate their full name to a sewn tag near the bottom solidifies they’ve reached icon status themselves; despised they ain’t! Hell, if “MVP” came out in recent years, it would have been a viral hit with its blazing opening and brutally slow breakdown. Despite their distance from the team, the two share some similar histories, with the Suns taking home Division titles from 2005-2007—when Despised Icon were originally shooting skyward. The team’s 2021+2022 victories suggest these deathcore progenitors upcoming album will put them back where they belong: the top.

While you’re at it, hurry and snag the last of Pincore’s Despised Icon pin collection with this sick silver Day of Mourning accessory.

Imperial Triumphant Three Masks Pin Set

Imperial Triumphant eschewed black metal’s monochrome palette in favor of gold’s luxurious shine. (They’ve also steadily moved more toward death metal, mainly maintaining the former’s suffocating atmosphere.). As such, it makes sense they’d eschew metal’s preoccupation with all things dark and evil via these cute pins of each members’ mask.

You can dress your battle vest up with a shiny material you could never afford if it were REAL, much like the facade of the NYC band’s home. How luxurious!

Carnifex Dead In My Arms 15-Year Anniversary Morgue Longsleeve

“WHAT THE FUCK?!” That’s the exclamation of deathcore fans realizing Carnifex’s landmark debut LP Dead In My Arms turned 15. In the years since, they’ve helped shape the burgeoning genre and played a major influence in the current wave of blackened deathcore as one of its progenitors. Unfortunately, 15 years is a long time and the original art for the album is probably rotting in someone’s Photobucket account from when they uploaded it to Myspace.

Fear not, this new art—commissioned for this and the album’s anniversary tour—gives the 2007 LP a solid foot, errrrr, face lift. The toe tag printed on the wrist is all too appropriate; after all, what are wrists if not the ankles of the arms?

Vatican Monster T-Shirt

Despite their futuristic metallic hardcore sound, Savannah, GA’s Vatican proved they’re human with their insatiable appetite for Monster’s pineapple-flavored Ultra Gold beverage, which filled the members’ feeds (and mouths) for months. Latest LP Ultra shares the can’s shiny color scheme and contains a song that shares its name with the product, while a V is easily assembled by two branches of the Monster logo.

In other words, the shirt is perfect—maybe even TOO perfect, as if pulled together by an algorithm… Wait, they COULD be robots filling the cans with fuel Or maybe they ARE robots filling the cans with fuel before dumping them in their mouths. Damn robots are always a step ahead, we’re doomed. At least we have the soundtrack!

Amon Amarth Drinking Horn

With so many bands making beers (hell, we have a beer box club), someone had to get creative with the receptacle. Steins have been done by Mastodon and Slayer, but only Amon Amarth could come up with a solution fit for (vi)king. Enter the drinking horn, a nod to the hollowed out bovine bones used by their forefathers (and lyrical basis) back in the day. Fill your horn, throw up your horns and bang your head—carefully, as to now spill your beverage of choice; there’s no better way to celebrate The Great Heathen Army!