Final Six: The Six Best and Worst Album Covers of 2012

Chris Krovatin is the author of three young adult novels, Heavy Metal & You, Venomous, and Gravediggers: Mountain of Bones. He is currently working on multiple new writing projects, as well as new material with his local New York metal band Flaming Tusk. He is a contributing writer for Revolver and generally comes off as a good-natured pain in everyone’s collective ass. This column represents his opinions–and probably only his opinions.

It is rare that great albums have great covers. On the odd instance they do, something beautiful occurs, a perfect coupling of music and imagery that cements that record into your mind. But plenty of incredible records have lame faces forward. For every British Steel, there is an Ace of Spades. For every South of Heaven, there is a Bonded By Blood. Sometimes, the lack of an awesome cover makes the album even better–a mind-blowing collection of songs with a solidly “Meh” cover makes the music even cooler, as it stands on its own without the help of flashy graphics. Most importantly, a bad album with a bad cover is the worst thing in the world and should be treated as such. Maybe the “Black Album” doesn’t look as good as Master of Puppets, but we all know Lulu can go fuck itself.

This year in metal was no different than any other. Some bands blew our minds with the evocative imagery, and some really shat the bed in full-force. Of course, underground bands with more investment in actual art took the lead, creating awesome weird cover art that speaks to creative souls, while mainstream artists on major labels pumped out cliché and over-produced pieces of hackneyed crap (though in the case of Tankard, you can’t even blame the big record companies–they just chose poorly). So if you consider yourself an artistic soul or a philistine, enjoy my Six Best and Worst Metal Album Covers of 2012. Damn your eyes.

The Six Best Metal Album Covers of 2012:

1. Sigh, In Somniphobia I wish I could even begin to describe what the fuck is going on here. The way I’m seeing it, the elderly aristocrat is pregnant with her eighth dead baby, and everyone at the Italian outdoor market is overjoyed about it. Incredible, but fuck, man.

Sigh, In Somniphobia

2. Black Breath, Sentenced To Life This is like a cooler version of those old Exciter album covers—a single hand, leather-clad, coming out of the darkness and smashing the fourth wall with a sledgehammer. The image is both awesome on its own and a perfect representation of the album’s general atmosphere. Brutal.

Black Breath, Sentenced To Life

3. Lord Mantis, Pervertor Here’s what I’m getting: Christ is in Hell, and a number of corpse-faced ambulatory cocks are using their barbed tongues to explore his newly created vagina. Is…is that what’s going on here? Because if that’s it, I’m really not sure whether I should be overjoyed or very, very worried.

Lord Mantis, Pervertor

4. Six Feet Under, Undead Not only was Undead a solid and entertaining death-metal album, but it had an absolutely incredible cover, with a whirling mind of evil meat perfectly illustrating the inner workings of the zombie. Finally, these guys figured it out.

SFU, Undead

5. The Howling Wind, Of Babalon Drawn by the inimitable Tony Roberts, this creeping and sinister cover exudes a sense of organic black magic that many fans dream of. It’s one of the few recent album covers that features a naked woman which doesn’t immediately seem corny to me.

The Howling Wind, Of Babalon

6. Kreator, Phantom Antichrist Wes Benscoter, king among death-metal album artists, has done it again with this twisted, over-the-top illustration of…well, the Phantom Antichrist, I guess? Once again, it’s probably a good sign that I have no exact idea what’s happening here, I just want in.

Kreator, Phantom Antichrist

Honorable mentions: The Northless/Light Bearer split for its creepy electric doom priests, and the Horseback/Locrian split for its giant woodland vagina castle.

Northless/Light Bearer Horseback/Locrian

 

The Six Worst Metal Album Covers of 2012:

1. Tankard, A Girl Called Cerveza BLECCH. Nevermind that Tankard’s thrash paeans to beer have gone a little flat over time—this cover is beyond hideous. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve all drank enough to flirt with a broad like this, but ugh. Why would you even. GYAH.

Tankard, A Girl Called Cerveza

2. Geoff Tate, Kings and Thieves I promise, as much as I find Geoff Tate a ridiculous cornball, I won’t make fun of his album cover if it’s—oh, wait, it’s a confused mess reminiscent of 2008 with its fleur de lis and ravens. Is the one raven stuck? How does this relate to the album? Man, you’re batting a thousand, Geoff.

Geoff Tate, Thieves and Kings

3. In This Moment, Blood Remember what I said about naked chicks in the last list? Case in point. Between teasing us with naked women that are then weird mannequins and showcasing Maria Brink (are there other members to this band?), In This Moment lost the plot with this album cover. Cool title—wish you’d done something here with it. So the record’s about what? Boobs or crows?

In This Moment, Blood

 

4. Ministry, Relapse Whelp, sometimes the mighty fall far. The gods of metallic industrial have graced us with the image of a fat, foaming-at-the-mouth ODing metal dude in a…church? Or something? Ugh. This

Ministry, Relapse

5. Adrenaline Mob, Omerta BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAH! Guys, let’s not do this. Everything going on here has been done better by bands like Volbeat and Chrome Division. The rings on the skeletons finger only make me think of some jackass rapper, any jackass rapper. And the devil/angel girl card? Grow the fuck up.

Adrenaline Mob, Omerta

6. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Spellbound What. An. Asshole.

Yngwie Malmsteen, Spellbound

 

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  • Mark

    I disagree on the In This Moment cover. I think it’s pretty good.

  • Paul

    The only one I disagree with is the Malmsteen cover. Regardless of opinion on the guy’s personality or talent… at least he knows what message he wants to send with the album art! Though it wouldn’t be out of place for a power metal cover…

  • Eric

    What I see in the Kreator cover is 4 dead horses(the 4 horsemen) of the appocolypse and the 6 arch angels hanging by nooses. That album cover is brutally deep and dark.

  • DarkCanvas

    Krovatin’s articles are usually very good but I would recommend a much better article about the same subject at PureGrainAudio . com

  • mfs

    Geoff Tate, Kings and Thieves is great you are a noob

  • Rick

    Isn’t the Ministry cover art just a picture of Al Jorgensen?