Final Six: The Six Best/Worst Album Covers of 2011
Chris “Weird Biker” Krovatin is the author of two young adult novels, Heavy Metal & You and Venomous. 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 freelance writer for Revolver and generally comes off as a good-natured pain in everyone’s collective ass.
December is the harvest time for metal journalism. That’s when all of us misanthropic black-clad fucks put together our end-of-year lists, going over our entire musical diet for the last 12 months in an attempt to compile a decent final 10. And while it’d be easy to do a best/worst list, I want to take the high ground and not point out a Worst Album list. That’s just petty. (My 10 best of 2011, if you're wondering, are: All Pigs Must Die, the Black Dahlia Murder, Tombs, Origin, Toxic Holocaust, Ash Pool, Revolting, Vreid, Hate Eternal, and the Atlas Moth.)
Artwork, however, is different. If your album is bad, fine. You know who you are, probably. When it comes to the music, let’s let it die—everyone’s made a Cold Lake in their lives, so let’s be the bigger man about it.* But there’s no excuse for shitty artwork. In fact, if your album sucks, the least you can do is put something really fucking amazing on the cover (for instance, I’ve always been 50-50 on Lair of the Minotaur, but their covers are damn cool). And unlike your music, which we all know sucks, your stupid choice of artwork is fair game for public condemnation. So here are my picks for this year’s Six Best and Worst Album Covers.
The Six Best Album Covers of 2011
1) Book of Black Earth, The Cold Testament Yes. With this cover, Seattle’s death-metal masters found a perfect image to describe their enthralling brand of fuzzy blackened death metal. If this doesn’t become a back patch soon, someone has to die.
2) All Pigs Must Die, God Is War You know what’s great? When your favorite album of the year has hands-down one of the coolest covers of all time. My No. 1 record of 2011, ladies and gentlemen, and it bears this breath-taking cover, courtesy of artist Florian Bertmer. It’s good to be the king.
3) Autopsy, Macabre Eternal This is one of those covers that’s comical to describe: Two zombies carry a giant stone skull towards an almost-completed statue of the Grim Reaper. Best part? That’s pretty much what the album sounds like.
4) Mhorgl, Heresiarch Until recently, I hadn’t heard of Australia’s Mhorgl, but not only is their brand of black thrash totally badass, the cover of their new record is a Miltonian flurry of demons, devils, wraiths, and fallen angels. When you stare into this abyss, it screams, “Charge!”
5) Chthonic, Takasago Army There’s something about a soldier carving a symbol into his forehead with a huge knife that touches me deep inside. The question is, what character is he carving? This album’s about Taiwanese soldiers, who spoke Mandarin Chinese, fighting for the Japanese! Then again, it might just be an inverted cross.
6) Mastodon, The Hunter Here, the Georgian metal titans left the world of over-the-top van-side illustration and had themselves a Communist Party. I mean, come on, how cool is this 3-D multi-jawed beast-creature? And look at the new logo—insane!
The Six Worst Album Covers of 2011
1) Cradle of Filth, Evermore Darkly Do you guys remember the Cradle of Filth I remember? The band that would put bathtubs full of blood and nude women on their albums, who put out the ‘Jesus is a cunt’ shirt? Remember that? So why does this album have a chick on a park bench for its cover?
2) Wayne Static, Pighammer You know what, I love this album title. It has so much potential to inspire a good cover—oh. Oh, you…you just want a picture of you, with scars, in a kimono. Oh, that’s, that’s cool…no, really, it shows a lot of…erm. Well.
3) Decapitated, Carnival Is Forever Yikes. I don’t know where they were trying to go with this cover, but Decapitated really fell short here. It seems like it’s really trying to say something, but…I dunno. It’s like a parody of a nu-metal album cover. Not a fan.
4) Sebastian Bach, Kicking and Screaming You really have to wonder about these hair-metal dudes sometimes. Like, was it the drugs? Was it the weird biker/homegrown sexuality being bred in the '80s? What happened, once upon a time, that made them possibly think shit like this looks cool?
5) Limp Bizkit, Gold Cobra I like it when album art says something. For instance, when an album features a morbid sigil by Wes Benscoter, it says, "Good times ahead." When it’s covered with Vince Locke’s unholy zombiescapes, it says, "This is a Cannibal Corpse record." And, in the instance of Gold Cobra, it says, "Urinate here."
6) Lou Reed & Metallica, Lulu To be fair, I’ve never heard this album, only the criticism of it, so for all I know the music rules. But man, how much did they pay the beret-wearing Sarah Lawrence sophomore who made this piece of shit? (Answer: Too much.)
*Actually, I have to be a dick about the new Morbid Angel. Sorry guys, big fan of your stuff, but you really shat the bed with the lights on with this new record.