Aug 132014
 

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.

BLOODSHOT DAWN

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…

https://www.facebook.com/BloodshotDawn Continue reading »

Aug 112014
 

 

(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.)

BelphegorConjuring 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. Continue reading »

Jul 092014
 

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.

DECAPITATED

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.

https://www.facebook.com/decapitated Continue reading »

Jun 122014
 

If you look on the right side of this page under the heading of “Categories” you’ll see a link to something called “Eye-Catchers”. It was an irregular series of posts I started a very long time ago and then sort of forgot about. The original idea was to pick music to write about based solely on the cover art, as a way of testing the hypothesis that cool album art tends to correlate with cool music. I still often check out new music in just that way — because the artwork catches my eye — but writing about what I’ve found in that way as a test of the “Eye-Catchers” hypothesis has fallen by the wayside. I’m going to try to do more of that.

I’ve already written (twice) about music from the forthcoming album (Solace) by Norway’s Vinterbris, and I first paid attention to it precisely because of the cover art, which was created by an artist I’ve praised frequently at NCS: Kim Holm. The last time I wrote about this partnership was after the release of a video showing Kim Holm’s creation of a drawing for the album with the song “Dysphoria” as musical accompaniment. I’m going to embed that video again at the end of this post in case you missed it. But the main reason for the post is to collect in one place all the other pieces that Holm created for Solace — because he created separate pieces for each song on the album (just as he did for Sólstafir’s Svartir Sandar — that art is collected here.)

Solace will be released on June 16 by Nordavind Records. You can order it now on CD either here or here, and that second link will take you to a Bandcamp page where digital downloads can also be pre-ordered. But of course one reason to spring for the CD (which is what I’ve done) is to get the booklet with the art you’re about to see (a CD pre-order gets you immediate download of two songs). Continue reading »

Apr 212014
 

Swimming through the effluent of the interhole this morning I came upon these life rafts that buoyed my spirits. May they make you buoyant as well.

AUROCH

Last November I reported the happy news that Vancouver’s Auroch had signed with Profound Lore, for the release of the band’s next album during 2014 (that same report was merely the prelude to a review of the band’s killer 2013 EP Seven Veils, which you should hear if you haven’t). And now we have the album’s name — Taiman Shud — and the cover art by Cold Poison, which you can see above and which is damned cool — cold, grim, and undoubtedly fitting for what I expect will be an immense and forbidding death metal release.

The official release date was also announced:  June 24, 2014. A vinyl edition will be coming in July via Dark Descent.

And in other Auroch news, it was announced that Tridoid Records will be releasing the band’s previous album From Forgotten Worlds on vinyl this coming August. Continue reading »

Mar 022014
 

Masha Scream, photo by Greg Shanta

Russia’s Arkona have completed a new album named Yav. It will be released on April 25. I’m very interested in hearing it, not only because I’ve enjoyed previous recordings but also because I’ve enjoyed the hell out of the two live Arkona performances I’ve seen so far in Seattle. The frontwoman Masha Scream is a force of nature on stage, in addition to the fact that  she has a great dual voice (both harsh and clean).

I’ve read that for the new album she wrote almost all of the music and almost all of the lyrics, which was the first time it dawned on me that her role in Arkona goes well beyond that of vocalist and magnetic stage presence. But this post actually isn’t about her, or anyone else in the band. It’s about Gyula Havancsák, the Hungarian artist who created the artwork for Yav.

In addition to creating the album cover, which you will see in a minute, he also created pieces for each of the album’s 9 songs. Beginning last week, Arkona began posting the song illustrations on their Facebook page, along with poetic translations of the Russian lyrics into English. So far, five of the illustrations have appeared, and they’re very cool. You can see them next, along with the album cover. To hear a teaser of the new music, go to this location. Continue reading »

Dec 042013
 

(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:

  1. No surprises. Decibel, Revolver, and Metal Sucks will publish lists that we probably could have predicted back in June.
  2. 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. Continue reading »

Nov 132013
 

Sales of music CDs in the US are in a state of “terminal decline”, and are projected to continue dropping by an average annual rate of 13% from now through 2017 and will probably never see “any kind of sales increase again”. Ironically, as some believe, they could be saved from complete extinction only by consumers who come to see them as a “nostalgia niche product”.

Maybe a day will come, far off in the future, when history will repeat itself and CDs will experience the resurgence that vinyl sales have been experiencing recently. But even with vinyl sales growing, the total physical market for music in the US is already dwarfed by digital sales, and the disparity is only going to get worse. The same trends are happening globally as well.

As physical sales of music have dropped, some observers have worried that album art would also become less and less significant, both as an art form and as a draw for consumers. I used to be one of those people. But I’ve changed my mind. I don’t base my optimism on any hard data, just my own observations, and so maybe I’m guilty of wishful thinking. But at least in the world of metal, it sure seems that fans still care about quality album art, and that striking album art draws fans into music they would otherwise never discover — even if they’re only buying digital downloads. Continue reading »

Nov 012013
 

I’ve been distracted today, more than usual, by my fucking day job (the nerve of them expecting me to work for my pay!), but I didn’t want to let this Friday crawl to a close without one more post. I’ve seen and heard a handful of new things today that are worth spreading around, but time being short, I’ll limit this to two excellent items, and perhaps include the rest tomorrow.

HOODED MENACE

The ultra-crushing, doom-dealing blood drinkers in Finland’s Hooded Menace appear to have been working on a follow-up to their gloriously heartless 2012 album Effigies of Evil. The new work will be released as a 12″ EP by Doomentia entitled Labyrinth of Carrion Breeze. The beautiful cover art (and by “beautiful” I mean loaded with fuckin skulls and ghouls) was unveiled on Halloween, and credit goes to Joshua Brettell (Ilsa’s drummer) and Adam Geyer for the creation (Brettell drew, Geyer did the gorgeous coloring). The front panel is above and the gatefold layout can be viewed after the jump (click for bigger views).

In addition to sharing the cover art, Hooded Menace has also made a part of a song called “Chasm of the Wraith” available for streaming. It’s low, slow . . . and actually beautiful, in a dreadful way. Continue reading »

Jun 262013
 

Yours truly has been keeping both bloodshot eyes peeled for info about the next album by Vasaeleth. Keeping my eyes open without blinking for hours on end makes them hurt quite a lot, and this may explain why I sometimes make whimpering noises. However, we must all endure pain for our pleasure, because this is the way of the world. Of course, much of the time we must endure pain to no good end at all. This also is the way of the world.

Aw fuck, where was I?  Oh yeah, waiting for Vasaeleth. Well, my painful vigilance was rewarded this afternoon with a boatload of information. First, Profound Lore confirmed the title of the new album (All Uproarious Darkness) and announced its release date (August 20). Second, PL unveiled the album’s cover art, which you can see above. It was painted by the viciously talented Antichrist Kramer. It’s quite eye-catching, don’t you think?

And finally, we have been given a new song to hear, one bearing the title “Paradise Reconsecrated”. I’m of two minds about the song. In one of my minds I’m being torn apart by wild, voracious beasts who are growling and shrieking and tearing and swallowing whole in a feast of ravenous abandon. In my other mind, I’m enveloped by a blackened death metal tornado, the air being sucked from my lungs while the guitars grind and moan and squeal, the bass thunders, and the drums rumble like an earthquake; and then I’m eaten alive by wild animals. It feels so good. Continue reading »