Aug 282012

One thing leads to another. In late July, I came across an awesome album cover by Denver-based artist Ken Sarafin (Sarafin Concepts) for a death metal project created by Sarafin called Bunch (and posted about that here). Though it isn’t available yet, the album will be titled Otero.

Then yesterday I saw the amazing artwork you see above, which appeared on the Bunch Facebook page. It’s an alternate cover for Otero (Bunch will eventually have three alternate covers for the album, with the third one coming from Mark Cooper of Mindrape Art — and one day I’ll devote a post to him, too). The artist is Sam Nelson, who’s also in Denver and calls his graphics business Stigma Art.

Well, having seen that killer Otero cover, I had to find more of Sam Nelson’s work, which I did — and holy hell, is he good. Some of his most striking recent works turn out to be covers for forthcoming albums by metal bands whose names were new to me. So of course I had to find some of their music, and it turns out to be worth sharing — and voilà, this post came together!

So, after the jump, feast your eyes on Sam Nelson’s cover art for Stoic Dissention and Kitezh, listen to some of their past music, and also check out a couple tracks from a music project between Nelson and Sarafin called Handsel (yeah, it’s really annoying that these dudes also have musical talent in addition to being fine artists), plus a few more examples of Sam Nelson’s creativity.

The first recent artwork I’d like to show you is this:

It’s the cover art for a forthcoming release by a Colorado band named Stoic Dissention (their FB page is here). If I’m correctly understanding some of their FB posts, the album is being mastered now and will be named Relinquished. I haven’t found streams of any of the new music, but I did find a Bandcamp page where Stoic Dissention are streaming their debut EP from 2011, Senium. I guess it’s an EP — there are only four songs — but it’s about 35 minutes long, which is album-length for many other bands.

The music is go-slow, down-tuned, groaning, tarry blackness. Ringing guitars spin arcs of light up through the murk and ghoulish vocals shriek acidically and roar cavernously. Periodically, the pace kicks up in a wash of tremolo’d guitar and blasting drums. It’s a cool combo of funereal, sludgy death/doom, black metal clawing, and shimmering guitar melody — definitely worth hearing:

Here’s the entirety of Senium:

[wp_bandcamp_player type=”album” id=”2322025969″ size=”grande3″ bg_color=”#000000″ link_color=”#4285BB”]

Oh, I should tell you that the cover art I embedded above for the new Stoic Dissention release is only part of the artwork, which will fold out into a poster-sized work. Check it out:

And now for the next piece of Sam Nelson artwork:

Fuckin’ cool, eh?  This creation is the cover art for a forthcoming album by a Denver band named Kitezh (their Facebook page is at this location). I think the planned name is Anti-Theist. I’m not clear on whether it will be a full-length or an EP or the timetable for a release, and I haven’t found any finished recordings of the music. So, again, I hunted around for something else and discovered a self-titled debut EP that Kitezh put up on Bandcamp last fall, which is a “name your price” download.

The music on the EP is instrumental, though it seems from the band’s FB page that the new music will include vocals. I really enjoyed the EP. Stylistically, I guess it falls somewhere in post-metal/progressive territory. It has plenty of heft in the low end, vibrant drumming, and engrossing guitar work that manages to be impressively acrobatic without losing the threads of melody that make the songs memorable. Check this out:

[wp_bandcamp_player type=”album” id=”1867481349″ size=”grande3″ bg_color=”#000000″ link_color=”#4285BB”]

I should mention that Sam Nelson did the artwork for the Kitezh EP, too. Here it is:

And that brings me to . . . Handsel, whose FB page is here.

As mentioned, Handsel is the musical collaboration of Ken Sarafin and Sam Nelson. Fittingly, each of them have created artwork for Handsel’s releases. The first one was titled BP, and Ken Sarafin created the cover for that one, which is the first image below. Sam Nelson did the artwork for the second, self-titled release, which follows it:

It appears that there is yet a third Handsel release by the name of Lorche. I’m not sure who created the artwork for it, but here it is:

The debut album, BP, is streaming and available for free download on Soundcloud, which you can access via this link. The second album is also on Soundcloud, and downloadable there; here is the link for that. I haven’t found a working download link for Lorche, but the whole thing is streaming on Handsel’s YouTube channel (along with the other two releases).

I haven’t made my way through all of these albums, but I have heard a few of the tracks from Lorche, and I’m liking them. The riffing is uber-distorted and includes some cool, epileptic lead guitar melody and eerie sci-fi keyboards to go along with the tank-like crushing of the low end. The corrosive vocals swing between gut-rumbling gurgles and vein-popping shrieks. Here are two of the songs I’ve heard:


To close out this feature, I’ll give you some more eye candy from Sam Nelson. The first one seems to be yet another new album cover for an undisclosed band, but I don’t think the rest are album covers (at least not until some enterprising band latches onto one of them in the future) — instead, they represent Sam Nelson having fun with what he does so well. You can find even more of his creations HERE.



  1. So I think I know who I want to get in contact with for art in the future. XD


  2. Amazing artwork!!! loved Stoic Dissention!!!. Kitezh liked the Ep but wished they where some vocals on it and handsel need to give it a few more listens

  3. I am proud to say that I knew Sam Nelson when! He is an amazing artist and it’s only a matter of time before the world knows his work.

    • No, no, no, you’re spelling it all wrong. What kind of metal band would name themselves after kitties? I mean kittehs. I mean kittehz. I mean kittezkh. Oh fuck it.

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