"Not many art directors were lining up to ask me to illustrate the next Aerosmith or Sting album," artist Larry Carroll told Revolver in 2010, recalling his meeting with Rick Rubin that led to his creation of the one of the most iconic album covers in heavy-metal history. "I think they were afraid of what they would get. I was always told my work was too dark for most folks. So Slayer was a good fit for me."
Carroll passed away yesterday, May 21st, at the age of 65. A world-renowned fine artist, his most well-known work in the music world is a trio of Slayer album covers: 1986's Reign in Blood, 1988's South of Heaven and Seasons of the Abyss in 1990. His unique vision, often compared to that of 15th century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, brought a high-art sensibility to the then-mostly-looked-down-upon art of thrash metal.
Which doesn't mean that Carroll didn't enjoy a good dick joke. As he revealed to Revolver in 2010, there's one — or rather, two — hidden right in his Reign in Blood art. "You see the guy with the bishop's hat? Right by his hand is his dick. No one ever caught that. Now look at the guy next to him — he's got one sticking out, too."
Carroll's relationship with Slayer didn't end with their classic trilogy, though, as the artist came back on board to help the thrash OGs out with their 2006 release, The Christ Illusion. Featuring a crudely disfigured image of Jesus himself wading through a hellish river of blood and severed body parts, the cover painting bluntly called back to the group's classic era.
Carroll's passing was confirmed by his artistic representatives, Galerie Karsten Greve. Read more on his minimalist installation pieces in the fine art realm on their official site. In addition to that work and his Slayer covers, Carroll also created cutting-edge visuals for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, The Nation, Spin, Ray Gun and other publications.