(In this post, guest writer This Is The News hands out some personal awards for the best metal album cover art of 2013. Please leave your thoughts — including your own favorite cover art of the year — in the Comments.)
It’s time again for year end lists, which boils down to two things for most of us:
- No surprises. Decibel, Revolver, and Metal Sucks will publish lists that we probably could have predicted back in June.
- We will want to argue with their choices anyway.
As much fun as that is, let’s take it a step further with a look at some of the best album cover art of 2013. Good artwork can be the incentive to hear an unknown artist, or a small consolation to a disappointing album. Even if you’re bummed out that the new Avantasia album isn’t actually about gnome wizards, at least you still have a fun bit of fantasy art to admire. So look, argue, give your own list of favorites. You know the drill.
Art by Paolo Girardi
Most readers will already be familiar with Girardi’s work, but that’s no reason to start taking him for granted. The art on Tempest was a standout even for him, and a perfect complement to the deep, foreboding doom of Lycus.
Deeds of Flesh, Portals to Canaan
Art by Raymond Swanland
This is the sort of art that will compel a kid to pick up their first sci-fi novel. A little further down the road, it might just get them interested in death metal, too. A well established figure in the realm of Magic: The Gathering, Swanland’s art has been finding its way onto more death metal records these days, including albums from Psycroptic, Suffocation, and an upcoming one from Cephalic Impurity.
The Black Dahlia Murder, Everblack
Art by Nick Keller
There is arguably more atmosphere and evil on the cover of this album than in the music it contains. Nick Keller knocked this one out of the park, giving Black Dahlia the best art they’ve ever had. Check out his Facebook page to see how varied, yet consistently awesome, his work is.
Eye of Solitude, Canto III
Art by Remedy Art Design
Fun fact: Artist Giannis Nakos of Remedy Art Design also sings for the brutal death metal band Mortal Torment (the Greek one, not the other one). Looks like he channeled a lot of that pure metal energy into the art for Eye of Solitude’s third full-length.
Rivers of Nihil, The Conscious Seed of Light
Art by Dan Seagrave
Dan Seagrave is more or less a legend at this point, but that doesn’t stop him from pushing himself. The bright, spacious landscape on The Conscious Seed of Light wouldn’t ordinarily scream “metal,” but it perfectly compliments the lyrical theme of the album. That, and it’s Dan Seagrave, so it’s automatically more metal than all the skulls and demons you can squeeze into a 12” x 12” portrait.
With how familiar some of these pictures become, being in ads and on merch, you would think that the artist’s names would be as well known as the bands’. Sadly, that’s normally not the case. If there is an artist dear to your heart who needs recognition for their work in the service of metal this year, be sure to give them a shout-out in the comments below.
Paolo Girardi can do no wrong! Love what he did for both Tyrants blood , Mephorash / Ashencult, Prosanctus Inferi and Inquisition
LOVE the cover to Prosanctus Inferi’s and Lycus’ new albums. Guy’s been busy this year.
Also, he did the Inquisition album art?
I’m about to go to work so I can’t pick all the album arts I would like to include right now. But Azure Emote, ASG, Pushmen, and Unhuman’s album art-among many others, are all easily at the top of my list!
Have you guys seen this cover – http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Tyrant_Goatgaldrakona/Horns_in_the_Dark/361413
it’s a great album backed by a great cover
This album art is great. It makes me think of some of the black and white stuff from one of those old D&D 2nd edition supplemental books, like ‘Complete Preist’ or whatever. I’ll have to check out their music.
I, for one, honor two of the titans this year for their use of decidedly non-metal monochromes: The furiously pink Deafheaven and the brilliant orange of Shining.
Not enough black.
Pink is the new black, and horn-rimmed glasses are the new corpse paint. (I know Kerry McCoy’s glasses probably aren’t technically horn-rimmed, but I don’t know what else to call them.)
Wait, am I doing it wrong if I’m wearing horn-rimmed glasses over my corpse paint? Maybe I should just pick one or the other…
Why go halfway? Use your corpse paint to create a faux-glasses design. (You could wear glasses over your corpse paint, but you’d spend a small fortune on lens cleaner.)
Anything by John Baizley – that man’s an art (and music) god. The first 2013 piece that comes to mind for me is his stupendous cover for Serpents Unleashed.
He did Beyond The Permafrost too, right? I like the art on that one a bit better, although I think Serpents Unleashed might be my favorite Skeletonwitch album.
BEASTWARS anyone? Fantastic artwork.
I’m really fond of the woodcut style artwork on Blood Ceremony’s The Eldritch Dark: http://pad.indiemerch.com/i/9/2/92d6be2c09.jpg While it can’t compete for the detail and complexity of your picks, (all of which are worthy of a year end list,) I think it’s a perfect complement to the band’s old-school pagan theme.
Blood Ceremony gets the award for “Most Improved”. It’s a pretty big step up from the band photo that was on Living With The Ancients.
I really liked the artwork for Woe’s Withdrawal – http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tLoKgW1D2pE/UXWCtlGmFVI/AAAAAAAAIGU/Yu3gz5G7nC4/s1600/Woe_Withdrawal.jpg – I like the kinda minimal placement of the logo and the title in the center, and the striking red colour placed over the black/white art. Stylish and foreboding. It’s no wonderful detailed oil painting or whatever like the ones above, but I think it’s really cool, composition-wise. The album’s not bad either!
Agree, I’m a huge fan of the more minimal designs. Woe’s along with SubRosa’s (http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/MoreConstant_Cover_750.jpg) and Wolvserpent’s (http://cdn.stereogum.com/files/2013/09/wolvserpent.jpg) were definitely personal favorites of mine.
That said, Ruins of Beverast’s ‘Blood Vaults’ (http://metalrecusants.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/The-Ruins-of-Beverast-Blood-Vaults.jpg) should also be mentioned; Axell Hermann is not even real.
All covers are awesome but my favorite is the one about Eye Of Solitude and thinking of covers I recommend you to see the new one about Behemoth for the upcoming album “The Satanist”.
so much awesome artwork, i would have a brain meltdown if i tried to pick my favorite
New behemoth satanist cover definitely but among all the above I’m leaning positively toward the Eye of Solitude cover. It’s powerful, ominous, enthralling in overall dare I say. I would call for Lycus as my second choice for sure.
“l’art est inutile. Rentrez chez vous”
Some really awesome covers there. I must admit, I’ve been guilty of grabbing a cd or amazon purchase based on a badass cover before.
gonna have to give that Eyes of Solitude some actual “private time” 🙂
Sulphur Aeon: https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/SulphurAeon_Cover_final.jpg
One of my favorite album covers… ever.