Where Did the Wall of Death Come From?
The "wall of death" is one of the most legendary types of mosh pit there is, but where did it come from?
After all, it's thrilling to witness the stunning display a group of concertgoers can make when they part themselves like the sea, before coming back together again in barbaric abandon.
Have you ever participated in a wall of death mosh pit? It's undoubtedly an experience like no other. But whether you're a frequent mosher or not, you might have wondered where the wall of death originated.
What is a "Wall of Death" in Metal?
The wall of death is a form of moshing where the audience splits itself down the middle before the two sides run toward each other, slamming into each other when they meet. The two sides of people create a chasm of space between them as the walls form.
Sounds dangerous, right? It certainly can be, but most walls of death are all in good fun, without any moshers getting seriously injured. However, because of the vicious-looking nature of walls of death, some music festivals and individual artists try not to allow them.
Moshing itself, of course, is the name given to simply dancing energetically and/or violently at a concert. Moshing is also known as "slam dancing" or just "slamming." But alas, there are many different variations to the mosh.
10 Epic Walls of Death
Before we even get to the wall of death, do you know what some of the other forms of moshing are? The "circle pit" is probably one of the most frequent. And hardcore concertgoers often do "hardcore dance" moves at gigs. Just watch out for "crowd killers!"
Anyway, you may now be asking yourself, Where the heck did the wall of death come from? Who first launched a wall of death at their show? You might be surprised to find out that it didn't start in the metal scene.
Where Did the Wall of Death Originate?
There's some debate about who actually invented the wall of death, but the consensus is that it was the New York hardcore band Sick of It All. Originally called the "Braveheart," the wall of death subsequently became a tradition adopted by metal bands such as Lamb of God and Exodus.
In fact, some might assume Lamb of God originated the wall of death because of their strong attachment to it. But Lamb of God lead vocalist Randy Blythe has credited punk icons for it in the past. And Sick of It All claimed to have popularized but not invented it.
In 2019, Sick of It All lead vocalist Lou Koller said, "We didn't invent it, but we're the ones who brought it back. When we were kids going to shows — metal or hardcore — we used to do it where when there was a break in the song or the action, four or five guys would just grab arms. And if you were standing across the pit and you saw that, you and your friends would lock arms, too. And charge at each other when the song came in."
Wall of Death at Hellfest 2014
Koller explained, "Nobody was doing that for years. So in '96, '97, we were playing a festival in England with The Offspring, Silverchair and a bunch of other bands. And we had to stand out. So my idea was, 'I'm gonna bring back the wall of death.' And I started it there."
He added, "The next year, we played another festival where it was us and all those metal bands. We're talking Slipknot, Sepultura, Mudvayne, all of them, and they watched us. When we did the wall of death, they all went, 'Holy shit, that's what we gotta do.' The next day, people were doing it at other shows."
What Are the Most Famous Walls of Death?
Unsurprisingly, the most famous walls of death usually happen at big metal festivals attended by many thousands of concertgoers. Some past walls of death that went huge include the mosh pits at Hellfest 2014 in France (pictured above as Dagoba performed) and Wacken Open Air 2010 in Germany (as Exodus was playing).
But metal bands far and wide create walls of death all the time. That's also true in subgenres such as metalcore, where lively acts such as Knocked Loose and Asking Alexandria often get walls of death going in their audiences.
Have you ever been in a wall of death? What did you think of the experience? It's certainly an exciting, if not violent, way to enjoy a metal show. Just be careful out there.
Watch more wall of death and moshing videos below.