Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Great moments in art history: More splendid record covers

M.A.C.E- The Evil In Good
This band were an early thrash band from my home town of Everett, Washington, often playing with other local legends like The Accused, Dumt, Date Rape, Last Gasp, and Forced Entry. This cover is an excellent example of basically everything that makes a great metal cover, or at least that's what I thought in 5th grade when this came out: exquisitely detailed renderings of people getting tortured and killed. It's OK that the proportions are all wrong and that the heads look like deflated balloons, what's important is that the guy who drew this slaved away with his 00 Rapidograph for ages, stippling like a madman.

The best tool for drawing metal covers (well, maybe 2nd only to the airbrush)

Black Sabbath - Sabotage
If I saw this cover now I would think it was a poster for some new Jack Black movie, or maybe a Saturday Night Live sketch. I understand that fashion ages quickly and poorly, but come on now... did anyone really think that red tights (with no shoes) and a leather jacket would stand the test of time? Much like the early Judas Priest videos where they wore silk, paisley robes and long, straight blond hair that would make Carly Simon jealous, it is hard to imagine what they were thinking.

Mordred - Fool's Game & Limbrionic Art - Epitome of Illusions
These records have nothing to do with each other, but I am going to lump them together under the "trippy surrealistic checkerboard" umbrella. I am not sure why, but in the 80s this was very popular, particularly among thrash bands who wanted to show that they weren't "just a thrash band" and wanted to "stretch the limits of the genre," and showed it with their "mindblowing" album covers. Perhaps it was because computers had only recently become capable of doing raytracing, with the de rigeur demonstration of the technique being a shiny sphere sitting on a checkerboard.



I think it is easy to imagine the GIF above on the cover of a thrash album. Just picture the Voivod logo above the robot's head.

Cannibal Corpse - Hammer Smashed Face
This is one of my very favorite death metal songs of all time, maybe even the best. However, I am a bit confused by the cover. This corpse is clearly already somewhat decomposed. Apparently the subject of the song attacked a rotting corpse with a hammer. This is certainly a deranged act, but in comparison to killing a person with a claw hammer like the song suggests, it really isn't that impressive. I mean, they're already dead, what's the big deal?

Aftermath - Don't Cheer Me Up
Who hasn't felt like this? You're sitting on the steps by yourself in a radioactive wasteland, bummed because your boss is a fucking jerk or whatever. And your friend, who is dying at your feet is all "Dude I know he sucks, but it could be worse. Just try to be positive." And then you're all "Fuck you man, leave me alone!! Don't try to make me feel better, I hate his fucking guts, he treats me like a fucking kid!" And your friend is like "Dude I know. Fuckin' bosses man, they're all the same." But you don't care, because you want to be mad! It feels good to be pissed off! Aftermath are pissed off!! They don't want to be cheered up! They don't need your fucking sympathy!!!

23 comments:

  1. immaculately aging gentleman on a hillJuly 22, 2008 at 8:24 AM

    Dude, first you hammer smash the face, then you come back two weeks later to take a picture. That's how it works.

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  2. the hammer on the cannibal corpse cover is tiny! the head like is like ten times the size.

    regarding checkerboards, was it a way for mordred to further show just how okay they were with multi-cultural blending of musical styles? they were so open minded!

    is the aftermath cover rendered in color pencil? very un-metal...but revolutionary at the same time. check out the "fallout shelter" sign...some shelter that building turned out to be. in the meantime, the church in the back is just chillin', unscathed. maybe the religious right was correct afterall.

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  3. first you put three bullets in the dude's head. but since they don't bleed, maybe they're golf-ball dents. that moon in the background looks kind of "starry night"-ish.

    and what the fuck is going on on the aftermath cover? is that dude breathing through his colon?

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  4. I didn't know Beck was in the original Judas Priest...
    Interesting.

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  5. Dammit.. I apologize for being "that guy", but you mislabeled Sabotage as Paranoid, and misspelled Limbonic Art. Not trying to be a douche, just thought you might want to fix that.

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  6. I remember back in 1989, the guys in Mordred didn't use a first version of "Fool's game" cover art because it wasn't "aggressive" enough...but I can't find this refused cover on the web. Maybe I should scan it from this old metal magazine, the sloppy "Metal Shock" from Italy.

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  7. @ Anonymous immaculately aging gentleman : Excellent, sir.

    I love the Mordred record even if it hasn't uh... aged very well.

    Aftermath were fucking awesome technothrash. The record that came after this, "Eyes of Tomorrow" really slays even if it's a bit of a copy of middle-period Coroner. Hey, even Coroner deserve ONE copycat band.

    This article was fun to read, so good work, Limbrionic Darkness aside :)

    p.s. I used to ink with rapidographs for ages until I went to art school and I found out there's actually specific markers made for comics and illustration with which I scribble endlessly with to this day. They're really not good tools for freeform work, heh. They're ment for industrial design and generally drawing-straight-even-sized-lines-with-ruler. I wonder where the thing with teenagers and rapidographs starts, where it can be traced to because they're also pretty expensive and definitely high maintainance (the way to clean them is also the way to fuck them up 50% of the time if you're not careful!)

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    1. Aftermath formed in 1985 and wrote a majority of the tracks on their debut in 1988. Unfortunately, it wasn't released until 1994. So the Coroner copycat comparison is unfair. Having said that Coroner is a great band.

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  8. The band Aftermath that released "Eyes of Tomorrow" (which is a fine record, though its artwork is also weak) is not the same Aftermath mentioned here. "Eyes of Tomorrow" was their only full-length. And oddly enough I was just listening to some of their demo tracks on MySpace like two hours ago...

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    1. Have you seen the Afternath Eyes of Tonirrow reissue. Some cover art revisions. Expanded booklet and remastered with 4 bonus tracks

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  9. Two thumbs up for the return of humor. One big-toe down for implying that Black Sabbath were ever thinking about anything.

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  10. Still, the single greatest moment in Metal cover history by far is Panteras "Projects in the Jungle".

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  11. The prime inspiration for Mordred and Limbonic Art covers is THIS
    http://www.spirit-of-metal.com/les%20goupes/J/Jaguar/Power%20Games/Power%20Games.jpg

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  12. Frank beat me to it...how about this one. And...it's Canadian.

    http://cover6.cduniverse.com/MuzeAudioArt/Large/17/543417.jpg

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  13. @Andrew: thanks, I stand corrected. The music is similar, damn it!

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  14. 'hammer smashed face' is such a bad ass song that it's #1 on my itunes if i organize by play count. whopping 83 times! #2 is too embarrassing to say, but it's only been played a mere 59.

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  15. i'd say #2 is "the end complete." by #3 it gets tougher... maybe "human waste"?

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  16. I'm amused that you continue misspelling Limbonic Art's name. That somehow makes it even more awesome.

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  17. i didn't correct it, sorry- i'm in switzerland and paying for access by the minute

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  18. But enough about that... has anyone seen the album's pricing schedule?
    "Secondly, the three proposed “packages” are frickin’ outrageously expensive. $24.99 for a digital download of Death Magnetic, a digital download of two entire shows from upcoming 2008 gigs (big deal!), a chance to hear why Robert Trujillo thinks Lights…Camera…Revolution! sucks bull testes, 250 photos, riff ringtones (not full songs, of course), and access to Fan Club crap. For $24.99, Metallica isn’t giving you a physical CD of Death Magnetic. Cue Press Your Luck “Whammy” music. For the next step up, $32.99, the former thrash ‘n’ bashers give you a physical CD. And then there’s the ultra rip-off package, which only the lamest of knobs will buy (and regret). For $124.99, or topping off that Hummer H2 you got recently with no money down, you get all the junk (yes, the CD is included) from the $32.99 package and a five-LP 180 gram vinyl version of Death Magnetic and box. Oh, and a lithograph, too."

    Gotta give it to those guys, they've really stayed true to their tape-trading roots.

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  19. oops, wrong string.

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  20. Obviously he was somewhat alive since the blood is still red and not dried out.

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  21. Could you guys do a piece on far out power and prog metal album covers? Like why they always have chess pieces blasting into space from a checkerboard earth. Or a colored penciling of a rocketship flying over a herd of grazing dinosaurs, or maybe just a splashes of a bunch of colors and a newfangled logo they only use once?

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