Friday, May 9, 2008

Great moments in art history: Sadus

Most people feel that art can be hard to understand. That's because most art is in fact hard to understand. Consider the Yale art student who, as has been widely reported, did a nine-month art project where she:

"... artificially inseminated herself 'as often as possible' while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages"

While the thought of such an undertaking would surely cheer up Chris Barnes and other Cannibal Corpse members (past and present), most of us are left scratching our heads, asking "is that art?" If you find yourself asking such a question, I present to you the cover for the Sadus album "Illusions", a piece of art so direct that it singlehandedly changes every viewers take on art. Unlike complicated artistic statements that require substantial reading to understand the intended meaning....this cover is exactly what you think it is. This artistic masterpiece is:

A long-haired viking skull (who is a devout christian, and enjoys fashion accessories such as crowns) is ingesting numerous skulls that come in peacock feather-like droplets, stemming from a tunnel. The tunnel is guarded by a rivitted keyhole that holds saturn, the sun, small asteroids and a UFO, which is itself rooted to a human brain that is held by the skull's hair. Could it be any simpler?

Though I have just spoken highly of the very direct nature of this piece, let me also point out that all great art makes references (however subtle) to other pieces of art, as well as film, music and culture in general. For example

The simplicity, Asian overtones (more on that later), black background, use of a single accent color, as well as the one strong vertical element (the purple type in the Sadus record, and the dress in the other) makes an obvious reference to Steely Dan's "Aja" cover. Not too unusual, when you think of it. While Sadus was not known for having any Jazz or Fusion influences, Steve Digiorgio played in Death as well, along with Paul and Sean from Cynic. Cynic loved their Fusion and Jazz. See, it all makes sense.

The skull's crown reference's Wonder Woman's own golden fashion accessory. What seems at first like an unusual artistic reference, is in fact understandable. The dudes in Sadus were horny, metal losers. Loneliness makes men do stupid things, like putting Wonder Woman's crown on an otherwise evil skull.

Another unusual reference is the cosmic sea that is held within the riveted keyhole, an obvious homage to the work of the astronomer and astrochemist Carl Sagan, and his book/TV series Cosmos. Again, this may seem like an odd choice at first, but consider the following. Steve Digiorgio played bass in Sadus, but he also played in Death. Death had a song called "Cosmic Sea"*. You must also remember that during the sessions for that Death album, Steve played with Paul and Sean from Cynic. Cynic had a song named "Celestial Voyage" in their album Focus. Do I have to spell this stuff out for you guys? Sheesh.

*Thanks to a kind reader for reminding me about this song. How I forgot it, I will never know. I'm very ashamed.

Like most other metalheads, the guys from Sadus grew up in very humble surroundings, and art was not a priority. More often than not, the art that hung on their homes growing up, was the picture that came with the frame. Nothing else can explain the use of a cornucopia in this cover.

What metalhead out there has seen a peacock and NOT wanted to include part their beautiful plumage on a record cover?

Like all American metal bands, Sadus ripped off German metal bands. Look at the reflections on the Sadus logo, they suggest that the logo was actually made of a reflective, perhaps metallic material. Sodom's logo was actually made out of polished steel. Sadus' was merely airbrushed to look that way. What we have here is another American band copying a German band, and not doing it well. Note the similarly retarded shapes of the letters.

The typography on this otherwise metal cover gives the album a slight, but refreshing Asian feel. Much like a cheesy Asian bandana on the forehead of an Italian kid from Long Island.

PS: On a closing note, I should mention that my brother and I often heard from a very reliable source that members of Sadus mailed weed to each other many times just to see if "it would work". Man, bored white trash dudes come up with some stupid things to do when they're sitting around watching Wonder Woman reruns.


  1. Don't forget, Death actually had a song called "Cosmic Sea". Or perhaps that was your intentionally subtle choice of words...

    Amazing post, as usual.

    P.S. "A Vision of Misery" fucking rules. Pretty much everything else is boring.

  2. yes yes! i forgot about cosmic sea. i'll go add that right now.

  3. the humor is back!

    i like how the skull stream and the hair, although seemingly flowing in opposite directions, actually blend seamlessly. it's like an escher painting.

    also kind of looks like when people try to combine their crappy tattoos into a new one.

    nice C64 lettering too. rotate the logo by 180° and it sort of looks the same. which got me thinking: there just might be more to this than meets the eye after all. the UFO could be the human mind, striving to reach the stars, but it is rooted (literally) to the human brain and all its fallacies. and unless the keyhole (of the "doors of perception", of course) is unlocked, it is doomed to forever slush in the quagmire of skull-droplets and hair.

    it's obviously a pro-drug statement.

  4. You guys are fucking crazy...FUNNY!

  5. It has a "prison tattoo gone bad" vibe.

  6. Hey is that a ufo in the "cosmic sea" or is it a mushroom growing out of the brain, it would fit with the whole mailing weed to each other theme and may explain the overall composition!

  7. I drew that cover drawing in class in 1986 recovering from a hard trip the night before. It started as a cookie with a face that a hungry Pushead Viking wanted to eat, which suddenly looked like a UFO in space, and I was like oh wait it's NOT a cookie... it's a keyhole see!? (Noone seemed to) I always wondered what happened to that social studies folder I drew it on! I'm gonna sue to make them mail me some weed.

  8. the guys in sadus are from antioch,ca. a way east suburb of the sf/oakland bay area that is full of meth heads. i think that the combo of them smokin tons of weed,being related to people who LOVED shit like CCR and Ted Nugent just added to the "oh hell yeah..that cover rules bro,well use it. thanks for drawing it for us on your pee chee folder in math class,duuuuude.."

  9. Hmm...Cynic also had a lyric in their song "I'm But a Wave to..." that went "So I call on Sri, cosmic sea" (etc.). The connections are mind-boggling!

  10. Just so you now, you can now adorn yourselves in this classic badness.

    Displeased, the record label whose name suggests neither brutality nor customer satisfaction, is releasing it this September.

    Of course, in a step of true metal marketing genius, the shirts are available in L and XL only.,123

    I guess only fat old metal dudes want to have the brain-barfing smiley face cornucopia adjacent crowned viking skull adorning their moribund torsos. My only question is, Do they come pre-stained with Cheeto dust?

  11. in an interview that the sadus guys gave after the release of "swallowed in black" they stated that they were looking forward to go on tour in europe, especially in the netherlands, due to the prospect of being able to "smoke weed until our heads explode". these guys sure loved their greens.

  12. In the beginning pearl hunting was the only means known for harvesting pearls. A little before the start of the 20th century divers manually pulled oysters from ocean floors and river bottoms and checked each one of them individually for pearls.

  13. The lamest doodle ever. Rob Moore grew up and left that shit group, good for him. The rest of Sadus are forever thirteen.