Monday, December 8, 2008

Metal Spokesmen: An Overview (Part 2 of 3)

This is part 2 of a three part post about the value of spokesmen in the realm of metal.

Ron Popeil is perhaps the best known TV spokesman. He has talked millions of lonely housewives into buying less than amazing products like Mr Microphone, GLH (Great Looking Hair), Chop-O-Matic and the Showtime Rotisserie. Upon seeing his picture, you can surely tell that Ron Popeil and Iron Maiden's Eddie have at least one thing in common. Their looks. Aside from that, Eddie and Ron were both true pioneers in the world of spokesmen. What does that mean? Like the true pro that he is, Ron always showed us his products in the best light possible, even going to great lengths (cutting shoes in half with Ginsu knives) to do so. Similarly, spokesmen in the realm of metal have to do their job...regardless as to whether the album is a winner (Iron Maiden's Powerslave) or an absolute dud (Laaz Rockit's....well, any of their albums). Let's take a closer look at the spokesmen that made us buy the albums.

In this post, as in the last one, I will rate spokesmen according to my Metal Spokesman Metrics (MSM for short). Remember: the scores I will give are for the spokesperson, not the band or their output.

Not Man

Not Man certainly looks like an anti-semitic depiction of a jewish merchant, but Scott and Danny are maybe it's all in my head.

I have to confess that back in the day Anthrax was one of my absolute favorites, and as a result I'm slightly biased on this one. Even though I grew up in a rather cold city, I made my mom buy me bermuda shorts simply because of Anthrax. Ugh, how embarrassing.

Never known to shy away from humor or lightheartedness, Anthrax enlisted the Not Man as their spokesperson mid-way through their career. Forgive me for not knowing, but I'm still unsure as to where the hell the Not Man came from. Is it modeled after the rubber faces you could buy from the gumball machines? Was it drawn by the guy from MAD Magazine, or was that only for the one drawing on State Of Euphoria? Did Scott Ian draw it while looking into his crystal ball in order to let us know what he would look like as an aging jewish man? I don't know.

Coolness: 8
Evilness: 0
Backpatch worthiness: 8

Total MSM score: 16

Creepy Sphere

Perhaps one of the oddest spokesmen in metal is the Pestilence creepy-sphere. Much in the way that their music tried to stretch the meaning of metal, so too did their choice in spokesman/spokesphere. An unusual choice, Pestilence creepy sphere is a slightly evolved version of the those gazing balls that fat people put on their front lawns. Had Pestilence come around earlier with their magic sphere, perhaps Mordred would have been tempted to pursue granting spokesman status to the checkerboard pattern on their cover of Fool's Game. The same could be said for the checkerboard pattern in Broken Hope's Swamped In Gore. If you can have a sphere as a spokesman, why not a checkerboard pattern?

But back to Pestilence. Perhaps one of Dan Seagrave's most haunting artistic statements, the creepy sphere is the only truly inanimate spokesman I can think of. I can picture an infomercial for a Pestilence album, where the sphere sits there, silently for long stretches of time. Though that may sound odd, many people have reported that listening to Pestilence feels a lot like staring at a sphere that does nothing for hours. So at least, it would be an accurate depiction of the product. I have to confess that many years ago, I saw that Dan Seagrave was selling the original artwork for the cover that you see above. I was like $850, and for a split second I considered getting it. I know, I'm an idiot for having considered it, and an idiot for not having done it. Can you imagine me giving people a tour of my house, and proudly saying "oh this old's just an original Dan Seagrave...from the Pestilence album 'Testimony of the ancients'. Are you familar with his work?" I would be both the lamest and the coolest guy the same time!

Coolness: 6
Evilness: 1 (Though certainly not evil, a metal sphere thing sitting there in my room would be kinda' scary I guess...especially if it just appeared suddenly.)
Backpatch worthiness: 4

Total MSM score: 11

Surfin' Dude

He's surfing on a casket lid, while wearing a helmet and carrying a bomb? Uh...okay. Man, the 80s were a weird time.

The 80s were an odd time in the world of thrash and speed metal. How else can you explain a band using the word "Reich" in their name, then having their spokesperson have concentration camp-style tattoos on his arm, and STILL be considered "politically aware" and "socially-conscious"? Weird stuff. Perhaps if I could quickly board the Nocturnus time machine, and travel back to 1988 I would understand things better...because I'm having trouble remembering how any of this made any sense back then. Anyway, their surfin' dude was only used on a couple of covers and shirts, but he certainly embodied the band's brand. Though nicely tan and in shape, the guy had a built in gas mask...perhaps due to all the toxic waste in the ocean that every thrash band was obsessed with. Today, you really CAN surf Nicaragua. This site proves it.

Coolness: 8
Evilness: 4 (He's surfing for god's sake! What's he going to do next? Get fish tacos and ride his cruiser bike down the boardwalk?)
Backpatch worthiness: 7

Total MSM score: 19

The Voivod

Half-skull, and half-tank "The Voivod" (as the band's spokesman is known) has been an enigma to me ever since I saw an interview where members of the band tried to explain the concept in their faulty english.

I've heard like five interviews where members from Voivod try to explain how their band is a concept band, and how it has to do with technology or something...I still don't understand it. I think this skull dude is called "The Voivod" based on an interview I saw once, but I'm not even sure. Some say this thing is called "Korgull", but I don't know. Look, since I'm not a native speaker of the English language, and I have an accent myself, I can tell you this without risking being labeled a xenophobe...I don't understand a damn thing French Canadians say. They sound retarded. I know I probably do too...but god damn.

Coolness: 9
Evilness: 6 (Okay, so he's a skull and pretty evil looking...but he has wires and stuff hanging out. That means that if I were engaged in battle with him, I could just pee on him, and he would short out.)
Backpatch worthiness: 10

Total MSM score: 25

Mad Butcher

The first Destruction album I heard back in the day was that live one where they played "In The Mood" and the Pink Panther theme song. As a result, I never thought of them as being particularly evil or metal...I mean, nothing says "metal" like a good Glenn Miller tune. Having said that, the Mad Butcher was plenty evil. Though only used in a couple of occasions, the Mad Butcher was certainly identifiable as Destruction's spokesman. Like their fellow Germans Helloween, however, Destruction suffered as its brand became fragmented.

As stated before regarding Helloween's spokesman schizophrenia, Destruction's brand fragmentation most likely came about as a result of their German heritage. Being from a country still coming to terms with its own fragmented political past (pre and post war), created a dual personality that came to the surface in its most visible form via Destruction and Helloween's artwork. The cracked skull that Destruction used in multiple covers was, oddly enough, NOT used in their less than amazing album (and Ice-T's favorite) Cracked Brain. I should point out, that brains don't usually crack, skulls do. Though I guess a brain could crack, as a figure of speach...but that's not the point, now is it? Due to this confussion, I will judge the butcher only.

Coolness: 6
Evilness: 6
Backpatch worthiness: 5

Total MSM score: 17

Helicopter-head lawnmower operator

In Lawnmower Deth's artowrk, Dan Seagrave showed us his true versatility as an artist. Known to most as the guy that painted the lobster claws in Sepultura's Arise cover, Dan wanted to stretch his wings and draw terrible artwork with a different theme. It was with this mindset that Dan's mind gave birth to whatever the hell this green sphere with a helicopter head is. Reminiscent of Tankard's green alien (which itself looked like a Gremlin), this spokesman was created to accurately depict the fun-loving and insanely annoying quality of the band. At first, these green monsters were the operators of lawnmowers, but at some point they became versatile enough to stand on their own. Not opposed to working with other lawn equipment, they were also depcited working with chainsaws.

I remember listening to Lawnmower Deth back in the day, and thinking they were amazingly funny. Today, I would rather chomp on multiple cyanide capsules at once.

Coolness: 2
Evilness: 0
Backpatch worthiness: 2

Total MSM score: 4

Part 3 will be posted on Friday and will feature Megadeth, Manowar, Sodom and more. Stay tuned!


  1. Peeing on live wires is evil.

  2. Thanx for including the ball and the butcher!
    However, speaking of Pestilence, I always preferred 2nd album ants...they could have been an amazing spokeperson on the following albums!
    Unfortunately, they were let go along with Martin v.Drunen...

  3. Wouldnt peeing on live wires blow your cock off? or at least cook it from the inside out causing that splitting that happens to sausages on a barbecue. In which case i think Korgull would win that round, i mean shorting out would probably just require a jump start, but im pretty sure a blown off cock is pretty much a permanent handicap.

    Any chance the egg monster from suffocation is gonna make the next cut.

  4. PS. Dan Seagrave NEVER designed ANYTHING for Sepultura.
    That's Michael Whelan, the guy who drawed the "Cause of death" cover, too.

  5. Dude, don't diss the Deth! Lawnmower Deth are everything metal should be - a bunch of guys having fun for the sheer hell of it. OK, so their songs aren't as funny as they once were, and they're a novelty band. But they're always around to have a beer with the fans before and after a gig and they don't take themselves seriously.

    Think about it - which do you prefer? That or a bunch of Norwegian wankers who burn churches and stab each other because they believe in some fucked-up religion?

    Personally, I'm gutted as I wasn't in the UK recently when LD did a comeback opening slot for some emo band. I'd have bought a ticket and gone to London just to see them again.

  6. re: NOT! man, i'm pretty sure that it was indeed drawn by Sergio Aragones of Mad fame. he drew the stuff in the margins as well as various cartoons in the magazines, and you may remember his comic book Groo The Wanderer.

    yes, i am not only an expert on bad heavy metal records, i am also an expert on Mad Magazine. i also know a lot about Joe Rogan and Adam Carolla if you have any questions about them... how did my life end up like this?

  7. Dan Seagrave did "Arise", didn't he? If not, someone sure ripped off his style. Just look at those lobster claws!

    Re: Peeing on wires
    I think you may be right. I was hoping that the voltage would be low enough that I would short it out without doing damage to my man-junk. I've known people who urinated on electric fences (I also saw it on the CKY vide) and lived. Guess the voltage was low...there was pain but that was it. I guess we'll never know.

    Dissing Lawnmower Deth? Well, I was being honest. I loved them then, as I loved Obituary. I can still listen to Obituary, but would never put on Lawnmower Deth, that's all.

  8. I still like inflicting LD's cover of Kids In America on random people. It's the only one of their mp3s I carry round, in all honesty.

    But if they released something new I'd pre-order it!

  9. Good point, though i imagine a skull tank probably has some pretty complex and powerful electronics. I imagine second only to the nocturnus time machine,
    regardless of voltage i would keep my junk well away from razor sharp skull tanks at least for fear of tetanus.

  10. CW. you may be right actually. The voivod skull's complex electronics probably feature some kind of self-defense mechanisms that allow it to alternate between high and low voltage. it probably also has an anti-pee defense shield. damn canadians.

  11. "Michael Whelan (born June 29, 1950) is a multiple-award-winning American artist of imaginative realism, formerly working for over 30 years as an illustrator specializing in science fiction and fantasy, before devoting all his work to his fine art career.

    Whelan's work can also be seen on the cover of the Jackson's "Victory" album, Sepultura's Beneath the Remains, Arise, Chaos A.D. and Roots albums, Soulfly's Dark Ages, and Obituary's landmark album Cause of Death, and every album by Elric-influenced metal band Cirith Ungol."

  12. See the complete "Cause of death" design here:

    This was supposed to be used by Sepultura for the album "Arise", but Roadrunner gave this artwork to Obituary...

  13. well i'm here to say that this Michael Whelan character is a fraud and an impostor! his work is highly derivative of the man we've all come to know and love....Dan Seagrave...the one and only. where did he get the idea to draw those blueberry muffins and lobster claws in the arise cover? DAN SEAGRAVE! i feel cheated, like when i got a bottle of fake CK cologne, which turned out to be a "designer impostors" version, back in 1993

  14. Once the russians sent a man in the space...they said he was Gagarin...He really was SEAGRAVE!

  15. Hey, can we get a review of Dissection's mascot Reaper guy? I think you may have forgotten a classic spokesman for homicidal black death metal.

  16. You can't pee on something that hovers in mid-air. Plus, no sooner would you pull out your junk than Voivod would castrate you with those snippers and make squid rings out of your foreskin.

    Since all the other spokesmen have been bled dry, I'd like to chip in with Ugly Kid joe. Not exactly metal, but still a valid spokesman, flipping off whenever he gets the chance. I was sad to see him turn into a real-life Bavarian boy on the "Menace" cover and be dropped out completely on "Motel". With no one at the helm, no wonder the band fell apart.

  17. Mention of UKJ brings back memories of another random bird-flipping character - Tigertailz' cute little tiger character.

    I liked this little bugger so much I used him as my signoff image on the old SUN terminals at university.

  18. chris, now you've got me all freaked out about the voivod skull thing. i take back whatever i said. canadians scare me i should probably back off.

  19. The Not Man is one of these finger toys.

  20. why hasn't the RIOT sealmanthing been brought up yet?

  21. You gotta include that weird furry... thing from the early Riot albums.

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