Top 5 Pieces of Album Art of 2012
The Top Five Pieces of Album Art
5. Hans Arnold - Storm Corrosion
One thing is undeniable about this piece by Swiss/Swedish horror artist Hans Arnold: it sets the mood for this album incredibly well. Though this work was originally done in 1969 and later adapted by Storm Corrosion for their self-titled debut, there's no questioning that it was a good selection. Storm Corrosion is an uncomfortably awkward and disquieting album, and nothing says that better than the collective wailing of undeniably humanoid yet distinctly monstrous figures. Everything about this painting seems to teeter just past the edge of ready comprehension, and that feeling of shiver-inducing half-familiarity never seems to leave. It's difficult to look at this painting for a long period of time, but that's part of what makes it so effective.
4. Denis Forkas Kostromitin - Half Blood
It's quite easy to look at this piece a dozen times over and still not completely understand what is going on, but truth be told, that's part of the point. This surreal image done by Russian painter Denis Forkas Kostromitin seems to be incredibly sinister, yet it's hard to pinpoint exactly why that is. There's nothing inherently fearful about the individual elements, but when they're combined together in such unusual and grotesque ways, it's hard not to feel some small sense of revulsion--as well as curiosity. It fits the mood of Horseback's eyebrow-raising compositions quite well, to say the least.
3. Thomas Hack - The Eye of Time
This painting by Thomas Hack may not seem like much, but it only captures a fraction of the work he did for The Eye of Time. In addition to the cover art, he provided an enormous amount of paintings to the accompanying booklet for this album, and unlike many other albums, it's a valuable part of the overall experience. The music alone is fantastic enough, to be sure, but it's the total package that makes this album so memorable, and Hack's artwork is what seals the deal. The bleak images emphasize and clarify the intention behind the music perfectly, and it's hard not to appreciate the full message here.
2. Eliran Kantor - In Somniphobia
German artist Eliran Kantor is no stranger to heavy metal album art, but this particular work for Sigh's In Somniphobia is particularly impressive. At first blush it appears to be a relatively normal piece of cover art, if somewhat odd, but then the details begin to jump out at you. The grayed babies lined up unceremoniously in the (presumably pregnant) woman's cart, the children holding and contemplating human skulls, the style of dress seemingly anachronistic with the modern streetlamps and road signs... This piece is full of subtly hidden disgust, and it's overall incredibly effective. Though it's also a bit distracting--you probably wouldn't even notice the fact that the band's name is even in the image at all.
1. John Dyer Baizley - Yellow & Green
The artwork of American guitarist/vocalist John Dyer Baizley is well recognized, and his style is now a staple of his band Baroness's covers. The fact that his overall style doesn't change much between albums doesn't dull the beauty of his artwork in the slightest. There's a lot to be found in the purpose and intention behind the posing of his figures and the various props they interact with, even if the details do take a bit of time to tease out. Though he does cover art for many different metal artists, it's clear that he saves the best for himself--and we should be lucky to get a taste of it.