This Sunday I decided to take another perspective to our favourite music. The artwork of the records. Its importance in order to give the desired flavour, the feeling to the album. The artwork is an integral part of the whole musical experience, and it also really helps to get into the band, to love the band.
We have witnessed so good albums having not so good artwork, or vice versa – great artwork and music does nothing for us. Combinations include dull artwork and dull music, and fantastic music/fantastic cover art.
So I said to myself “OK, let’s list some my favourite artworks, those which made significant impact on me back in the start of my metal journey”. I have really some favourite artworks which played huge role for me, had memorable impact, blasted me literally. They shaped my love for some of the bands. In order to dig back in the memories, I also put some timeframe limitation – up to 1993. Otherwise the list can go very long, especially with all the releases in the past couple of years, and some of the present excellent artworks. Don’t be surprised, most of the albums are Death metal classics with explicit covers. But I guess when you are 13, and you see such pictures for the first time, they last forever…The shock factor was (and still is) a big part of our beloved music. It was mandatory to show muscles in the death metal territory when the genre was developing 30 years go. Same went later with Black metal of course.
So to make the long story short, here are ten of my all time favourite cover arts with small comment on the respective album. My goal is not to discuss any artist’s techniques, styles or approaches (I am not in the position to!).
CANNIBAL CORPSE – Butchered At Birth (1991)
When I saw it, I was literally shocked. I was 13, and I have never seen such thing before! Two zombies with maniacal interest of abnormity, finishing freshly butchered corpse of a pregnant woman, taking away the unborn baby from the utero, and ready to hang him on a meathook; they are all surrounded by corpses of many butchered babies, hanging on meathooks…
Amazing cover art (and logo) by Vincent Locke!
Then I listened to the music. I have never heard such death/grind before. And those vocals! Still, “Butchered at Birth” is among the best ever albums in the genre for me.
PUNGENT STENCH – Been Caught Buttering (1991)
Another great death metal album from 1991. The artwork speaks by itself, adding that tiny humour flavour which PS has always had. “The heads” will always be notable and very impactful cover art. As well as this album which I love so much.
Cover art/photography by Joel Peter Witkin, who is well known with his works in the area of death and deformity.
CANNIBAL CORPSE – Tomb of the Mutilated (1992)
On the next year after “Butchered”, I witnessed “Tomb of the Mutilated” – another classic album by Cannibal Corpse, including their biggest hit. Yes of course, it is Hammerrrrrrr Smasheeed Faaaace! The cover art is another gem, isn’t it?!
Another stunning work by Vincent Locke. The logo has been retouched by Chris Barnes himself!
OBITUARY – Slowly We Rot (1989)
I heard this album in the autumn of 1990 for the first time. The heaviness, the riffs and the vocals were astonishing and devastating. A year later I saw the cover, made by Rob Mayworth. It fitted perfectly with the whole experience. Rotting Death Metal Classic!
DEATH – Leprosy (1988)
Classic album with classic cover by Ed Repka. Yes, we can say this from the distance of time now. However seeing this on vinyl in 1991 was a rare event, especially in my country. Leprosy’s cover still looks fantastic after 31 years and it’s a leading example. So does the music here.
CARCASS – Reek of Putrefaction (1988)
The coverart must be part of the anathomy/pathology books in the medical universities.
The artwork was made by Gruesome Graphics Inc.
AUTOPSY – Severed Survival (1989)
This one here is the censored cover art of the album, made by Kev Walker. With this cover, “Severed Survival” has been released by Peaceville in 1990, almost an year after the first edition. Everything in this album is like in a neverending nightmare, a scary pathological movie where the zombies are ruling the world and want every single piece of YOU!
EVILDEAD – Annihiliation of Civilization (1989)
The thrash in the end of the 80s – politically fuelled, carrying the apocalyptic messages of the biowar. I love this artwork. This debut album is relentless thrash record, however released in an inappropriate moment – when the thrash was fading away.
Cover art and logo by Ed Repka.
PUNGENT STENCH – For God Your Soul…For Me Your Flesh (1990)
Another classic by Pungent Stench. Even the name of this album is so good, and it fitted lovely on the back of my notebooks at school…Oh, just let me rot, ffs!
Cover art/photography made by Joel Peter Witkin,
RESURRECTION – Embalmed Existence (1993)
We all know that everything which Dan Seagrave did is gold. He is the one responsible for one of the most emblematic covers of the most important death metal albums ever. From all of them I decided to pick up this coverart. It is probably less familiar to the audience, as Resurrection (Roadkill later) never get as big as the other bands for which the big artist created. Still this artwork does amazing for me. It is so utopian, so unknown, so fantastic, so terrifying. Oh, yes, do check the album as well. The band along with Scott Burns did hell of a job!
“Bonus tracks” could include Burzum’s “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss”, Judas Priest’s Painkiller, or Megadeth’s Rust in Peace, but you are all too familiar with them. Wait, I can list another hundred…Till next time!
**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.