Informal Poll: Who Had the Best Heavy Metal Album Art of 2016?

  • Axl Rosenberg

Reader Mike G. e-mailed us and suggest we do a post about this year’s finest achievements in heavy metal album cover art. As you can probably guess from my headline and that sentence you just read, I am taking Mike’s suggestion. Thanks, Mike!

So takes this year’s crown? My initial selection would have been the simple, hilarious, and totally fucking metal cover for Alkerdeel’s Lede until someone pointed out that it’s plagiarized from an older album called Scorpion Wind by Death in June & Boyd Rice. Bummer.

Informal Poll: Who Had the Best Heavy Metal Album Art of 2016?Informal Poll: Who Had the Best Heavy Metal Album Art of 2016?

Still, even a quick perusal of this year’s releases demonstrates that there were no shortage of great album covers. I have too many favorites to list here, so I’ll just focus on the three that made the biggest impression on me.

3. Brutally Deceased – Satanic Corpse (Doomentia Records) by Paolo Girardibrutally-deceased

One MetalSucks commenter called this album cover “beautifully abhorrent,” which is about as apt a summation for Girardi’s work as you’re gonna get. The painter, who has also done covers for bands like Black Breath and Inquisition, utilizes a muted color palette and not much contrast between different objects in the image; as a result, it may take the eye a moment to register just how gruesome the piece is. It’s like a cross between Vince Locke and Francis Bacon.

2. Subrosa – For This We Fought the Battle of Ages (Profound Lore Records) by Glyn Smyth from Stag & Serpentsubrosa ftwftboa

Simple and elegant, like a stripped-down Mucha. It’s not overtly metal, which makes it subversive, which, in turn, makes it incredibly metal. Bravo.

1. Ghoul – Dungeon Bastards (Tankcrimes) by Mark W. Richards from Heavy Hand IllustrationInformal Poll: Who Had the Best Heavy Metal Album Art of 2016?

I got excited about this bad boy the moment I saw it. It’s old school without being retro; the strings of whatever that goop is suggest puppet strings, and the fact that those strings are coming from the band as they loom large over other evil and scary entities seems likely to be an homage to Iron Maiden’s The Number of the Beast, but it doesn’t call unnecessary attention to that homage; the use of color is great; and there’s a ton of little details you might not even notice if you don’t take a minute to look carefully. Richards’ work gives me the same vibe as old E.C. and  Mars Attacks! comics from when I was a kid. I love it.

What were YOUR favorite album covers of 2016? Let’s get an informal show of hands going in the comments section. I’m curious to see what the community is into these days, when, depending on your point of view, metal art is either more important or less important than it has ever been before.

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