Aug 172015

Paolo Girardi & Manilla Road
Paolo and Manilla Road

(KevinP brings us another installment in his ongoing series of short interviews, talking this time with one of our favorite metal artists, Italy’s Paolo Girardi.)

K:  So how did you get your start being one of the “go to” guys for metal album covers?

P:  I already had done some local metal demo and CD covers here in my small town and villages around the ’90s and early 2000s.  But then my friends Blasphemophagher wanted something for their first album, then second, then third and the most recent one.  This gave me more popularity in metal.  After that I did Diocletian, Tyrants Blood, In League with Satan, etc.

Three years ago (almost four maybe), I reached the point when I could live by painting alone, working all over the world. No more need to work in country, as frescos restorer, carpenter, or other occasional work. I was so glad ’cause I’ve never quit painting, even when I had to work 11 hours per day.  After that, my daily wrestling training, then painting ’til after midnight.  I’ve always believed at every cost.  Obsession, passion, love, stubbornness, madness.  Now, I still work hard to do my best for my respectful clients, bands, and labels. Continue reading »

Aug 052015

Dalkhu-Descend Into Nothingness


Once upon a time I started an irregular feature called “Eye-Catchers” in which I periodically tested the hypothesis that cool album art correlates with cool music. As much as anything else, it was a vehicle for exploring the music of bands I wasn’t familiar with, based solely on the attractiveness of their album or EP covers. There’s still a category link to all those posts on the right side of this page, even though the project has been moribund for quite a while.

This post, though it shares that “Eye-Catchers” title, really isn’t a continuation of the earlier experiment, because I’m already a fan of all the bands whose news and/or new songs are collected below. But the artwork for these new albums is so good that it seemed to be a fitting title. So, here we go….


I originally discovered this two-man Slovenian band in the middle of last month — and that really was an example of the original “Eye-Catchers” experiment. Their second album, Descend… Into Nothingness, features cover art by our beloved Paolo Girardi, and that’s what induced me to explore the music. Having done that (and written about the first advance track from the album here), I immediately became a fan. And so when I learned that Dalkhu released another new song yesterday, I felt confident it was going to be another good one — and so it is. Continue reading »

Feb 092015


I’m so glad to be back home after three weeks in the bush, by which I mean Delaware. Finally, to sleep in my own bed, in which I woke up once an hour beginning about 2 a.m. and whined, because the time zone change is fuckin’ with me.  In other words, I slept like a baby. But it really is good to be home — although it appears I’m going to have to do this extended travel thing all over again in three weeks, which blows. But I’ll bitch about that more thoroughly when the time comes. For now, let’s discuss happier subjects….


This first item of news really cheered me right up — the marriage between one of my own most fervently anticipated releases of 2015 and one of my favorite artists. As you can see above (and click that image to enlarge it), maestro Paolo Girardi has created the painted cover art for the new album by Seattle’s Bell WitchFour Phantoms. It is beautiful, and I have no doubt that Four Phantoms will also be beautiful, in the way that the pale, cold skin of a bewitching corpse is beautiful. Continue reading »

Jan 292014

Due to the demands of my fucking day job, I haven’t had much time to go exploring for new music and news items over the last 24 hours, but on a very quick excursion through the interhole and my NCS in-box I did spy the following three items for your edification and enjoyment.


The last time I mentioned the name Warpstone on NCS was in April 2012, in the context of a feature on the painted art of that great Italian madman, Paolo Girardi. One of the pieces I used in that feature was Girardi’s cover for a then-forthcoming album by Warpstone entitled Daemonic Warpfire. At that time, I could find no music from the band available for streaming and I failed to follow up and check out the album when it was released.

This morning I noticed the painting by Paolo Girardi for Warpstone’s forthcoming second album, Into the Phantasmancer Celestial Castle, and it’s simply stunning. To see a larger view of the cover, click the image above. Fantastic.

Warpstone have also put three songs from the new album on Bandcamp for streaming, and I’m including the player for them below, as well as a YouTube clip for one of the new songs. They are genuinely impressive. 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 »

Oct 082013

Ævangelist album art by Andrzej Masianis

“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,” or so wrote William Congreve (not William Shakespeare) in his play The Mourning Bride (1697). This is in fact true of some music, but what charms your humble editor is music that’s savage rather than soothing. I have four recent examples of metal savagery for you, in the order in which I heard them this morning.


The new album by ÆvangelistOmen Ex Simulacra, will be released on November 29 by Debemur Morti. This is a later date than first reported. Based on the band’s previous output and the first two songs released for this album, it will be worth the wait. In July, we featured the first of those two advance tracks (“Abysscape”), and today Debemur Morti began streaming a second one — “Relinquished Destiny”.

This song takes no prisoners. It shoots the wounded in the head and then rips the corpses into small pieces before consuming them. It delivers an atmosphere of alien horror, and the corrosive distortion can’t disguise the experimental-sounding nature of the riffing and drum progressions, which make the song interesting as well as frightening. As icing on this maggot-ridden cake, death/doom descends at the finale. Continue reading »

Jun 062013

This is the second part of a two-part post about new music that swallowed me up last night. By blind chance, all four of the songs I heard sound like granite must feel, sitting on your chest or coming down in an avalanche on your head. Part 1 (here) dealt with Geryon and Hollow Leg. This one focuses on Lycus (Oakland) and Ortega (The Netherlands).


In addition to delivering crushing music, all four of the bands featured in this two-part post bring us striking cover art for their new releases. As you can see, the debut album by Lycus, Tempest, is adorned with the awesome painted art of the Italian madman Paolo Girardi (go past the jump to see more of the album art).  Tempest is scheduled for release by 20 Buck Spin on July 9 (digitally and on CD/LP).

I haven’t yet carved out time to listen to the album, and nothing from it is yet available for public streaming, but I did check out the first song from the band’s Demo MMXI. That demo was released two years ago by Graceless Recordings (run by Mike Meacham of LOSS) and on vinyl by The Flenser Records, and it’s a name-your-price download on Bandcamp. Continue reading »

Apr 082013

Continuing what has turned into a content-packed Monday, we’re packaging in this post features on the latest track premiere by Immolation, a new discovery from Greece (Damned Creed), and mysterious new artwork by Paolo Girardi.


No one with any sense really needs to be teased further about Immolation’s new album, because all sensible metalheads have already resolved to lay hands on it as soon as possible. But we’re getting teased again anyway.

Not long ago MetalSucks exclusively debuted yet another song from the forthcoming Kingdom of Conspiracy release — and it’s available for free download via the widget on their site. The song is a titanic bruiser powered by tremolo’d grinding, bullet-spitting drumfire, wraithlike soloing, and enough tempo shifts to keep you off balance while your head bangs merrily away. Continue reading »

Dec 122012

Over the last several months we’ve been posting artwork on the NCS Facebook page every day. There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to the selections, other than the fact that they are strange enough or hellish enough to please my bloodshot eyes. Some of them have been created as covers for metal albums, though most haven’t had that purpose.

The Italian artist Paolo Girardi is someone whose work I’ve included in those Facebook posts, in addition to featuring here at NCS. I watch his Facebook page like a hawk for new creations, because they never fail to make my mouth gape open like a gaffed fish. Today he unveiled the painting you see above. I’m posting this on our Facebook page today, but I decided this should be spread across the front of the NCS site, too.

It’s the cover for a forthcoming album, though Paolo is keeping the band and album names secret for now. I already want it, because with a cover like this, I have a powerful feeling the music will be . . . devastatingly blasphemous.

Be sure to click the image above to see an even larger version of the image. And Merry Fucking Christmas to one and all!