If you have the new issue of Revolver featuring Ghost's Cardinal Copia across multiple collectible covers, then you've seen the gorgeous and grotesque illustration by visual artist Marald van Haasteren on the last page of the magazine. The piece also appears as a limited-edition cover, available exclusively with our special Ghost box set, which features all four subscriber/newsstand versions of the magazine, plus the webstore-only fifth.
Van Haasteren has worked with Baroness, High on Fire, Kylesa and many more of heavy music's finest bands, and he also had a featured exhibit at Roadburn festival in 2017. For Revolver's Ghost issue, he created a stunning color-pencil-and-acrylics illustration inspired not only by the Swedish occult-metal outfit, but also by the Black Death plague, a major theme of the group's new album Prequelle. Below, Van Haasteren explains the meaning behind this amazing, incredibly detailed piece and shares work-in-progress sketches from the process.
"The art is based on the major theme of the new record, namely the plague. I immediately thought of a book I read, A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman, which graphically tells of Europe during the 14th century: war, schisms, plague, crusades. It makes our time seem pale in comparison.
"Since one of the hats of Tobias [Forge, Ghost's mastermind, who plays Cardinal Copia] has the shape of a bat wing, I wanted to transform it into a demon bat, representing the fears of man.
"To emphasize the medieval theme I placed a wall of tormented people. Two demons are shown in full, terrorizing the crowds and showing the final judgment — people believed they were going to witness the end of time — all of them are guilty and thrown to hell.
"To show a glimmer of hope, I placed a marigold flower, which was believed to be a medicine against the plague in the lower left corner. And to balance the shape, I transformed a bat's tongue into the cross emblem of Ghost, placing Tobias in a sort of judgemental position; a Baphomet pointing at a white & black moon.
"The rat on his shoulder is, of course, a nod to the song 'Rats.'"