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 »

May 312013

Deep down at the filthy core of all good brutal slamming death metal are riffs — atonal, palm-muted monstrosities that produce a visceral, physical effect, the kind that get your guts churning. Effective vomit vocals are important, too. You want them cavern-deep and gruesome; you may or may not want them to sound like a mess of puffed-up bullfrogs competing for sex on a wet night. A healthy serving of percussive obliteration, you want plenty of that, too.

You get all of that in Empires of Great Enslavement, the new EP by Sweden’s Vomitous. But you get more, too. To begin, you have the brilliant cover art by one of our favorite metal artists, New Zealand’s Nick Keller. We featured the cover in one of our daily artwork posts at the NCS Facebook page back in March and have been looking forward to the music it would house ever since.

Empires encompasses six tracks, one of which is a short, atmospheric introduction and two of which appeared on a 2012 demo. The band tend to launch the songs with a barrage of sonic obliteration, all rapid-fire riffing and thundering drums. But the music is rhythmically dynamic, sometimes slowing into massive, skull-caving slam segments, the most convulsive of which occurs in “On the Column of Insignificance”, and sometimes exploding in a flurry of jabbing, pneumatic riffage (as in “Infectious Urethral Re-Leakage”).

The songs are also occasionally spiced with squealing pinch harmonics (“Atrocities of Unspeakable Magnitude”), grisly tremolo leads (“Scorched Earth Apocalypse”), or even the kind of groaning, fret-sliding chords that remind me of what Gojira has popularized (“Scorched Earth”, again). And kudos for the distorted vocal sample at the end of the title track, an excerpt from Lovecraft’s eloquently frightening poem “Nemesis”. Continue reading »

Apr 092013

We’re way past the end of our typical posting day, but this news can’t wait: The Black Dahlia Murder and Metal Blade have revealed the album cover and release date for the band’s new album Everblack and have given all of us the first new song from the album for streaming: “Into the Everblack”.

The album will be released on June 11 and has now become available for pre-order here. The cover art, which is just fuckin’ delicious, is by none other than New Zealand’s Nick Keller. If you hang around this site with any regularity, you’ll know who he is because we’ve repeatedly raved about his work for NZ’s Beastwars, among other accomplishments.

Other luminaries were involved in the album’s creation — mixing by Jason Suecof (with Ryan Williams) and mastering by Alan Douches — and the album will include for the first time a song (“In Hell Is Where She Waits For Me”) that’s actually about the famous, unsolved 1947 “Black Dahlia murder” of Elizabeth Short from which the band took its name.

And that brings me to the just-released new song . . . Continue reading »

Aug 172012

I saw this stunning painting long before I knew what it was or that it had any connection to metal. Only yesterday did I find the connection. The artist is a New Zealander named Nick Keller, and the painting is the gatefold interior artwork for an EP named Hammer of Intransigence by a New Zealand band named Heresiarch. To see any even higher-res version, click on the image.

The cover art for the EP, also painted by Nick Keller, is also amazing (and you can again click on it to see a larger version):

Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about Hammer of Intransigence — though I’ll be coming back to Nick Keller shortly. Continue reading »