Metal Album Monday: 05/23/11

There are so many brilliant artists out there designing album artwork. It’s an arena I would love to get into and as I hone my digital artist skills I look to what I love for inspiration and encouragement.

Monstrocity: Spiritual Apocalypse
Artwork done by: Conquest Music

Since this last Saturday was supposed to be the apocalypse and the world was supposed to be consumed by zombies by now, I thought beginning with Monstrocity’s Spiritual Apocalypse would be a great start. But where do you begin with such an image? The colors? The blend of darks and lights really enhances the piece, drawing you in to the brilliance flamed at the head of the seated man, perhaps at the Sahasrara Charkra, or the sun at the center of the universe, maybe indicating simply the mind on fire, though the zen meditative posture of the man, an archetypal image representing the spiritual and the enlightened, may suggest that perhaps he is at piece and that the head is burning with the collective connection of the divine. The yellow surrounding the archetypal zen man is either is aura, or the burning off of spirituality.  The texture of the piece perhaps suggests the latter. Great texture by the way. Seems like the artist really looked at the details to make sure that the texture blended well and that the shadows were correct. Really though, it’s the solar system that really makes this piece for me. A zen man is a basic archetype, the flaming head is pretty cool, but placing those elements within the context of a perspective of the solar system is what I am really digging on.

Monstrocity: Spiritual Apocalypse
Monstrocity: Spiritual Apocalypse album artwork

 

Echoes of Eternity: As Shadows Burn
Artist: unsure

An alternative and less zen experience of the merging of fire and humanity. In the Monstrocity artwork, the fire seemed to be content and connecting, in this album cover, it is destructive. The image seems to be superimposed on a leaf texture that seems to want to balance out the flames. I’m not quite sure if I think it is successful, but I understand why it was placed there. The quietness of the leaf doesn’t seem to actually balance the sparks from the flame, but then, that says something in and of itself, so there could be some artistic intent in that realm. additionally, the seemingly stone face is flanked by two natural elements.  Something I found interesting about this piece too, is that the right side of the face seems to suggest that the eye had been crying and it was the salt from the tears that had burned off the epidermis flesh. The colors are great, typical, but seem to work.

Echoes of Eternity: As Shadows Burn
Echoes of Eternity: As Shadows Burn album cover

Moonspell: Night Eternal
Artwork by Seth Siro Anton

Another archetype: the divine Mary. Hands held as if holding a baby, sitting on a suggested throne, cloaked in the purity of white robes and dress. The deviation of the typical image of Mary begins with the obvious absence of a baby, a head dress of skulls and dead flowers. and a chest plate that has a spine and organs imprinted on it. What is she thinking? Does she look sad? Empty? Or matter of fact that she offered her son to the world and yet it is Satan’s realm? The details on the actual album art are much more in depth and intriguing, here it appears much more subtle and grey, though the overall tone is bleak. Love this artwork.

Moonspell: Night Eternal
Moonspell: Night Eternal album cover

 

Obituary: Cause of Death
Artwork done by Michael Whelan

Whelan is an amazing artist of imaginative realism and an influence in album cover art. He has done work for Selpultura, Soulfly, Cirith Ungol and this amazing piece of work for Obituary. “The cover art of this album was used in an H.P. Lovecraft collection, Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre, and part of it was used in The Tomb and The Doom That Came to Sarnath paperbacks.” (wikipedia). The intensity of this piece leaves me breathless. The glaring use of reds combined with the subtle white of the web and skulls provides a great dynamic. The use of the eye with the moon lit in the background is fierce and haunting. The tree based in skulls, consumed by wailing distorted faces reflects the terror of the web-encased hanging soul. Bloody Brilliant.

Obituary: Cause of Death
Obituary: Cause of Death album artwork

 

Would love you hear your  thoughts on the artwork!

Metal Album Monday 05/16/11

I just love album artwork. Entering into the digital age, it has both enhanced and hurt the album. Enhanced because now artists can turn to technology and turn great pieces out in a more timely manner than waiting for their oil piece to dry and hurt because anybody with Adobe now is producing album covers. Not too mention that few people buy albums any more. But at any rate: here are today’s choices:

Samael album cover
Samael album cover
God Forbid album cover
God Forbid album cover
Dimmu Borgir album cover
Dimmu Borgir album cover
Sepultura album cover
Sepultura album cover

 

 

Metal album artwork Monday

It’s Monday and time to share a few albums that to me have amazing artwork. And the following paragraphs are simply my own personal interpretations of the pieces, an apperceptive soliloquy if you will. They have no bearing on the band or the artist, just me as a fan and appreciator of beautiful things and good music.

 

Morbid Angel: Illud Divinum Insanus
Artwork by Gustavo Sazes

The title suggests insanity. The reds and yellows of the image suggest something primal and necessary for survival. In yogic terms, they refer to the first two chakras that represent basic survival and creativity/sexuality. One may assume that it’s the need for a self-identity, a self-awareness of a sane individual. Most of us struggle at one point in time about who we are, what defines us…and faith/belief/religion/spirituality is included in that. But perhaps this imagery is even larger than the self, and may be of a divine insane. The iconic imagery of the pentagram on the (3) hands and the waxing Pagan moon at the center suggest something more religious. The face is masked and perhaps it’s a mask of ignorance, or denial. Or even confusion. Tyler Durden of Fight Club and Achilles of Troy suggest that the gods are jealous of humans. That each moment for us is special, because it could be our last. Because we can do things they can’t…fuck, for example. Maybe this mirrors humanities confusion on the face of the divine. We don’t know what the divine actually looks like, and so it is masked. But the downward turn of the head suggests a reverence perhaps, or perhaps a wonder at human hands and the possibilities. The artist does a fantastic job bringing together all of these ideas and with precision fuses the elements together to present us with an interesting piece that can be looked out for hours.

Morbid Angel's album cover
Morbid Angel's album cover

Dissection: Maha Kali
Artwork by “unsure”

I can’t seem to find who originated this artwork and for this I apologize. If you happen to know, please comment and I will give appropriate credit. This album has only two songs and is associated with Kali, the Hindu goddess associated with eternal energy. Kali means “the black one” and is she who destroys, hence the skulls. She was the killer of demons, a fierce feminine force, bathed in blood red. This is a quality representation of her and is a reminder of the balance of energies…that females can also be strong and dominating. The artist does a great job capturing the energy and force behind Kali, and doesn’t seem afraid to exploit her demonic side. And for Dissection to embody her on this album: sic.

Dissection album cover
Dissection album cover

Enthroned: Pentagrammation
Artwork done by Nornagest & Neraath (of Enthroned)

A seemingly ghostly existence in a humble prayer pose. An anonymous individual on their knees. Blind Faith? A dying religious belief? The fading colors and feathery bleeds of the individual are tombstone in quality. I get the feeling of a quiet reserve praying to an unknown. Circles encompass the background, big and small, maybe they’re just images, maybe they denote the circuitous nature of existence. Birth. Life. Death. Birth. Life. Death. The kneeling figure is clearly highlighted and the focus of it, at the middle of the pentagram.  To the Sumerian’s, the pentagram may have meant pitfall and to the Babylonian’s may have had astrological meanings. Pythagoreans saw the pentagram as a mathematical perfect and Chinese Wu Xing saw it as representing the five elements. In the context of Enthroned, perhaps it means them all, and that they all encompass humanity. The idea and image is haunting. The artistic execution of the piece is great. The merging of the human image with the background is seamless and the color blends well. I appreciate the implied vignette as well. It compliments the circles and reinforces the focus on the praying, veiled, human.

Enthroned album cover
Enthroned album cover

Dimmu Borgir: Abrahadabra
Artwork by Joachim Luetke

“I will create as I speak” ~ Aleister Crowley. This is an intriguing merge of Crowley and H.P. Lovecraft. Bleak and post-industrial, the hollowed eyes and mouth suggest the unseeing and the unheard. Perhaps we are gods robots, set blindly on this earth to function without direction and without support. Being watched with indifference until our world explodes. The industrial nature eradicates the organic and replaces it with the mechanical, maybe we are becoming our own Frankensteins. Blue is the throat Chakra in yogic philosophy. The chakra of expression. The stillness and futile nature of the mouth makes me believe that we are unheard, silenced, perhaps from a religious or political standpoint. The artist does a great job of blending a variety of elements together, and the details of this piece make it a great success.

Dimmu Borgir album cover
Dimmu Borgir album cover

These are just a few that I love. Check back next Monday for the next Metal-album artwork Monday!