Needless to say, as a musician and graphic designer, I’m a pretty huge fan of album cover art. Particularly in the metal genre. Actually, I’m pretty sure it was the cover art that initially drew me to heavy music. I distinctly remember looking at the cover for Iron Maiden‘s “Somewhere in Time” as a little kid, with a robotic Eddie holding a laser gun, looking bad-ass, in some weird, futuristic urban landscape, and thinking to myself that this was a band I just had to listen to. Even Cannibal Corpse‘s extremely over-the-top, gore-laden covers are good for a morbid laugh.
I remain optimistic that even with the digital format takeover, cover art won’t ever truly become a lost form. Music artists are always going to need some sort of visual representation of their work, but it is a shame that the experience of holding a glossy record cover and flipping over the art and lyrics – one I personally find intrinsic to the appreciation of music – is becoming increasingly lost to the convenience of the digital format.
But anyway, great cover art is still being produced these days, and one of my somewhat recent favorites is the cover for Amon Amarth‘s 2008 record “Twilight of the Thunder God” by illustrator Tom Thiel. It’s just plain bad-ass. It gets you excited to listen to the record, and it truly breathes life to the band’s aesthetics and themes, deeply rooted in Norse mythology. It just recreated that whimsical sense of wonder that I experienced looking at record covers as a kid, and deciding what I wanted to listen to solely based on the cover art.
The artwork is just so vivid and intense, and makes for one cover I could definitely just look at for an extended period of time . It’s hard not to admire the painstaking detail that went into creating this scene of Thor battling Jörmungandr, the sea serpent, Mjölnir in hand.
Not to mention this is just an awesome record, if you’re into heavy music at all.