Question Of The Week: Who Art In Heaven (NSFW)
There’s little question that, of all musics, metal boasts the wildest enthusiasm for art and imagery. There’s all kinds: Serious art (Baroness), hilarious art (Municipal Waste), and weirdness (Tool). Iconic imagery (Iron Maiden, Slayer), staggering detail (Sepultura, Testament), and hesher silliness (Obituary, Cannibal Corpse). Nudity, guts, death, barf, monsters … It’s all awesome! Above all, it serves a purpose: Each unforgettable album cover, t-shirt, and backdrop is an accompaniment for a band’s message, an extra link and context, and an identifier that lingers long after final notes have faded.
So let’s tip our caps to the men and women who deliver sound to our eyes via awesome, disgusting, and horrific art in today’s MS Question Of The Week!
Fearless. Controversial. Half-baked. We give it to you straight every Friday afternoon. Straight across our chests, onto the walls of our bedrooms, and behind the drum risers! Here’s this week’s question:
Inspired by heavy metal’s half-century of dominance in album, stage, and merch art, we asked our staff the following question:
Your bestie, owner of a fancy art gallery, has asked u for help on a month-long installation titled “The Visual Arts Of Metal.” Which metal visual artist is your first recommendation?
Read the MS Staff’s awesome answers then reply awesomely below!
There are so many great contemporary artists: Florian Bertmer, Halsey “Halseycaust” Swain, Bryan Proteau a.k.a “Clovenhoov,” and many, many others. But my gut says to go with Robert “Grindesign” Bobas, and if, like me, you follow his Facebook and Instagram, you’ll see why. Regardless, you’ve likely seen his work on albums and shirts — his list of clientele is varied and vast. And though we metalheads may see similar themes in a lot of artwork, it’s his style and composition that set him apart. Detailed, but not overly so, his illustrations have a “fine art” quality. Check him out. Now!
Jesus Christ, I don’t know anything about visual art nor what this question wants from me. Am I supposed to be all “omg, Baizley and Romano you guys”? Or do I just throw out that the only gallery of metal art I would give a remote damn about would be old school grindcore? I’m out.
I really love old Scorpions album covers by Storm Thorgerson like Animal Magnetism and Lovedrive. Each seems like a simple portrait, or tableau, of everyday human interaction but with underlying sexually submissive tones. There’s something slightly uncomfortable and off-putting about them, like the photography of Diane Arbus. Plus, the controversy of their Virgin Killer cover would totally attract crowds.
Derek Riggs. The rich, vivid awesomeness of his, like, 400 Iron Maiden covers would outweigh my worry that art people would bluntly dismiss their lack of statement. “These are pretty pictures,” they’d sniff, “Art is more. Art is communication.” Then, when I’d barf cocaine and cereal down the front of their tweed vests, they’d applaud my masterpiece! Magnificent!
Karlynn Holland, because she’s already been doing it for years! Her “Dreams Were Made For Mortals” group show series started in 2011, carried on through 2012 and, hopefully, will pick up again this year. In each case, Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn has hosted the event, and every installment featured art talent from the five boroughs and beyond. Holland herself is an artist and illustrator who’s created logos and art for Krallice, Dysrhythmia, Nachtmystium, Astomatous, Solecism, and many more, and her show spotlights artists involved in metal in one way or another — musicians, live photographers, or simply fans. On top of that, the event is DJ’ed by various members of the NYC metal scene (musicians, writers, label people, artists, various awesome headbangers) and the bar itself is run by a bunch of metal dudes. Even if art shows aren’t really your thing, this one will be.
Pushead and Dan Seagrave are obvious choices, so I would want to spotlight to a lesser-known yet equally badass artist: Antichrist Kramer. This is partially because my Chicago homie Carm hooked me up with a signed print of his art from Inquisition’s Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult reissue, but mostly because Kramer produces some haunting stuff. Laugh at his name all you want, but you can’t deny the nightmarish quality of his work. His objects float as if they’re not bound to this mortal world, drifting off in an ever-expanding purgatory. There are lots of skulls and occult symbols and piercing eyes that can be found in a lot of metal artwork, but Kramer’s touch forgoes clarity for a less refined menace Francis Bacon would appreciate. Imagine being caught in the web on the cover of Vasaeleth’s Crypt Born & Tethered To Ruin.
This exhibit should first and foremost show the many faces of visual art in metal. Imagine a room filled with the elaborate spreads of doom/sludge bands like Mastodon next to the in-your-face neo-aggression of The Black Dahlia Murder’s designs. The literal gore collages found in the work of many early death metal bands deserve a spot as well. And though music videos are becoming less relevant, those are a necessary part of the metal art experience too.
Sweet! That’s a lot of tasty heavy metal visuals!! Everybody eat some mushrooms now, answer the QOTW below, then stare at this page til its images come alive muahhahaha. Happy wknd xoxoxo !