We probably devote more attention to album art than the average metal blog, and the Swedish artist Pär Olofsson has been one of our favorites for years. His cover for Obsolescence, the new album by Abysmal Dawn, is a striking example of his work — and the album is damned striking, too.
So it’s a genuine treat for us to bring you this feature, narrated by Pär Olofsson and Abysmal Dawn vocalist/guitarist Charles Elliott, about how the album art evolved, with step by step images of the artwork, as it eventually took shape in the exchange of ideas between the two.
If you haven’t yet listened to Obsolescence, which is out now on Relapse Records, do yourself a favor and dive into that (you can here it and buy it on Bandcamp). It’s superb. You can find out more about the band and the artist via these links — and at the end of this post, check out their new video for the song “Inanimate”:
Here are a few items that caught my eye over the last 24 hours, partly because of the artwork, but in some cases also because of the accompanying news.
I’m going to put Hate in front of Behemoth for a change.
Thanks to a tip from Andy Synn I saw the announcement from earlier today by Poland’s Hate that they will be releasing a new album named Crusade: Zero on January 15, 2015, via Napalm Records. As usual, the album was recorded and mixed at Hertz Studio with the Wieslawski Brothers.
This morning I spotted three new album covers that grabbed my attention, not only because the cover art in each case is very cool, but also because the bands are, too. In the first two instances, we don’t have music yet, though we do in the third case.
We’ve written many times about this fine Icelandic band, most recently in Gemma Alexander’s review of their 90-minute set at this year’s Eistnaflug festival, and so I was especially excited to see the artwork you’re now looking at, because it’s a harbinger of a new Skálmöld album.
The new album, MEÐ VÆTTUM, will be released by Napalm Records later this year. The cover art was created by Ásgeir Jón Ásgeirsson, whose website is here and who also made the cover art for the band’s last album, Börn Loka. I don’t have any of the new music to share with you at this point, but I’m sure we’ll be featuring it as soon as the songs begin to appear. Here’s the staggered release schedule for the album:
I find myself once again with a long list of new items I think are worth sharing but not enough time to write about all of it. I’m beginning to think this is a perpetual state of existence: TOO MUCH METAL. But rather than be stymied by this predicament, I’ll just have to pick a random assortment of new things — something is better than nothing, right? The first three items in this collection first caught my eye because of the visual art — in each case you can see larger versions of them by clicking the images.
ELIRAN KANTOR AND SATAN
There may be a metal artist whose work I’ve featured on this site more than Eliran Kantor, but I doubt it. And yesterday I spotted his latest work, the cover of a forthcoming live album by the long-running British heavy metal band Satan. The new album is named Trail of Fire: Live In North America, and it will be released by Listenable Records. Kantor created the cover for the band’s previous album Life Sentence, and he explained the concept behind this new one as follows:
“As fire sets the tone of the last album cover, I wanted to focus this one on what you usually get afterwards – ashes left behind. Hence the burnt coal frame. The band came up with the title ‘Trail of Fire’ probably referring to being on the road, and it’s symbolized by the judge’s wig morphing into a trail of burning wooden logs, and the trail of fire actually leads to a trial by fire. I wanted the story told on the band’s covers to move forward too - ‘Court in the Act’ was a trial scene, ‘Life Sentence’ showed the incarceration stage, and now we’re witnessing the execution.”
Here are a couple of news items and new pieces of album art that caught my eye. I don’t have much to add to the information sent to us in press releases — other than to say I am tremendously interested in both of these albums (which happen to come from the same label), and you should be, too! (Click the artwork to view larger images.)
BLUT AUS NORD
Today Debemur Morti revealed the cover art (above) for the new album by Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta III – Saturnian Poetry. It was created by Kristian “Necrolord” Wåhlin (EMPEROR, BATHORY, DARK FUNERAL, DISSECTION, and many more), and it’s wonderful. The layout was conceived by Dehn Sora (known for his work for NEUROSIS and ULVER, among others).
The label further announced that the album has been scheduled for an October 10th release and will be available on Digipack CD, Gatefold 12″ LP, and a digital download version. Here’s the track list:
Not long ago we posted Part 2 of Ty Lowery’s list of personal favorite album covers for 2014 to date. And then about 5 minutes later, I saw THIS ^^^^!!!
It’s the cover art for Citadel, the new album by Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris. The artist goes by the name Xen, (aka Xenoyr) who is the band’s lead vocalist and lyricist, and whose Facebook page is here:
And wow, isn’t that a fantastic cover?
We have very high hopes for the music on this album, too. It’s set for release through Season of Mist on November 7 (November 11 in the U.S.).
And since Ne Obliviscaris is on my mind, I think I’ll just put this music stream of their debut album right here:
(Guest writer Ty Lowery has assembled a personal list of favorite metal album covers for 2014 to date, divided into two parts. Part 1 appeared here. Once again, Ty asked his wife Heather (who he says isn’t very big on metal music as a whole) and his friend Adam (who is) to look at the album art and provide guesses about the music. Once again, please feel free to add your own favorites in the Comments.)
Alright, so the first round went pretty well for my two assistants. Where we left off, they were neck-and-neck in our little guessing game. So, time to finish this thing up and see if the trend continues. Lets get right to it, shall we?
Schammasch – Contradiction
There’s just something about the color red with me, for some reason. I really like how while the majority of this artwork is solid red, yet there’s enough variation that you can divine the angel, the demon, the symbols, and the serpents. With that knowledge, Heather was able to correctly suggest that this album was steeped in religious undertones, probably in the vein of black metal, as did Adam. He suggested that it might have something to do with atheism, but changed his mind after seeing the symbols along the bottom.
I’ve been remiss in posting round-ups of news and new music lately, and I’ve collected quite a large batch of items worth spreading around. As a consequence, I’ve divided the collection into multiple parts that I’m going to dribble out over the course of the day, because what else am I going to do with all this drool? One thing the four items in this Part 1 have in common: Killer cover art. You’ll see.
This UK band’s self-titled 2012 album was one of my favorite releases of that year, and I included the song “Godless” in my list of 2012′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. Needless to say, I’ve been eager for the band’s follow-up. They funded its production through a Kickstarter campaign in four days, and yesterday the band revealed a lot more info about it, to wit:
Its name is Demons and it will be released in the UK on October 26. It was was mixed and mastered by Danish engineer Jacob Hansen (Aborted, Amaranthe, Volbeat, Destruction, Epica, Pestilence). It features guest appearances by Sven De Caluwé (Aborted, System Divide), Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry), Teemu Mäntysaari (Wintersun), Andy James (ex-Sacred Mother Tongue), and Chris Amott (Armageddon, ex-Arch Enemy). And as you can see, it features a gob-smacking album cover by the talented Pär Olofsson (click that sucker to make it bigger). I’ll be waiting, eagerly and drooling, for the first advance track…
(Guest writer Ty Lowery has assembled a personal list of favorite metal album covers for 2014 to date, divided into two parts. Please feel free to add your own favorites in the Comments.)
Sometime last year, I had planned to showcase some of my favorite album covers. However, as you might imagine, that didn’t happen. So, a bit over halfway through 2014 already, I’ve decided to give it a go again so I don’t have to worry with trying to find everything last minute and become overwhelmed at year-end. I’ve been looking back at some of my favorite album covers, as well as looking at random covers here and there, and I must say, I’ve found a lot more than I expected- so many that I think it’s be best to break this up into a couple of posts.
I’ve actually happened upon some really cool bands this way, too, which isn’t out of the ordinary but worth noting nonetheless. Had it not been for their album art, I might never have found some of the following bands, one of which I simply can’t get enough of. However, to be clear, I’ve done this exercise for the sole purpose of rounding up the nicest looking album art, according to my own tastes. There are a couple of bands in here whose music I can’t stand, and a couple more I’d never heard of before. So to avoid any confusion, I am not necessarily recommending all of the albums featured below. They all just chose wisely for their album art.
Since I began working on this article, I noticed something peculiar: A good number of the album covers correlated in one sense or another with the music on the album. To make sure that I wasn’t just imagining this, I asked my wife (who’s not very big on metal music as a whole) and a friend of mine (who is) to look at the album art and give me their impressions. Some of them were spot-on, others not so much. Here’s what we came up with for the first nine. (Another note, these are in no particular order. They are just listed as I came upon them.)
Belphegor – Conjuring the Dead
This might be one of the best “photo realistic” album covers I’ve seen so far this year. It’s got the dark, gritty feel washing over it in shoals. The symbolism on the cover speaks of blasphemy, a great deal of death, and more than a smidge of Satanic interplay. When my wife Heather saw it, she immediately guessed that it was death metal, which is a good part of the album, so I’ll give it to her. My friend Adam said the same thing: “This had better be death metal.” Heather also hit the nail on the head about the dark/demonic themes that run throughout many of the songs. That’s a point for the correlation theory, although an easy one.
For your entertainment and edification I bring you a small group of news items and new music that I enjoyed over the last 24 hours. All of them involve especially enticing pieces of album art that you may view as larger images by clicking on them.
Thanks to a tip from my friend Vonlughlio, I just saw the news that the sixth album by Poland’s Decapitated will be released by Nuclear Blast and Mystic Production (Poland) on September 26, 2014. It was recorded, as usual, at Hertz Studio in Białystok, Poland, by the Wiesławski brothers. The album cover was created by Polish artist Lukasz Jaszak, who also made the cover of the band’s last album, Carnival Is Forever.
This announcement was accompanied by a statement from Vogg (Waclaw Kieltyka) that the new music is “totally crushing and huge” and that Blood Mantra is “the most heavy and mature album” the band have ever recorded.
Such statements must always be taken with a grain of salt, but even if the album is only “about the same level of crushing and huge” as what Decapitated have delivered in the past, sign me the fuck up.