Five pieces of wonderful album art I can no longer enjoy because I went blind staring at the Eclipse

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Dictated, not read.

Late last week, rascally Toilet contributor and known mustached bear of might Leif Bearikson challenged me to a competition to determine the strongest between us. The mammal/Toilet contributor who could stare at the sun the longest on the day of the Eclipse would forever earn the title “Mightiest Champion ov Hell.” Friends, today I happily declare myself Mightiest Champion ov Hell, having bested Bearikson by a whopping 57 seconds in the Eclipse stare. No great feat ever came without cost, however.

Tragically, having stared at the sun for 4’22”, I can no longer actually see anything. True, I have accomplished a great deed, but at the cost of my eyesight. Oh well. At least metal requires hearing rather than vision, and thanks to the power of Science, I can still contribute to this porcelain portal via dictaphone.

Because blog waits for no sightless man, I present to you, from memory, my five favorite pieces of album art from 2017 that I can no longer appreciate because I have lost my vision.

5. Orm – Orm
(Artist: Paolo Girardi)

Prior to losing my sight in a pitched battle to determine who is truly greater, men or mustached bears, I would spend hours staring at Girardi’s lush work painted specifically for Orm‘s bombastic, gorgeous black metal siege. Hours drinking in the vibrant colors, the strong use of perspective, the way Girardi’s painted lines draw the viewer’s eye to the devastation of the fortress on the bluff. If my tear ducts hadn’t vaporized during my quest for glory, I’d shed a tear recalling the way Girardi’s vibrant palette translates the rich tone and earthy bass-work of Orm’s resplendent riffs. I’d also probably be able to gaze upon the sinuous form of the serpent in the foreground, a visual metaphor for the serpentine melodies that weave their way in and out of this album’s long, epic tracks, but I cannot, for I lost my sight in a Herculean test.

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4. Jordablod – Upon My Cremation Pyre
(Artist: Martin Andersson)

Newcomers Jordablod released one of my favorite releases this year, a psychedelic extreme metal riffsplosion that captured in many ways the spirit and intent of last year’s Predatory Light but wrapped those intoxicating melodies in a much tighter, defter package. It’s a shame, then, that I can no longer gaze upon Andersson’s haunting cover art. The drama masks, a classic image for the dichotomy of comedy and tragedy, act as a cohesive metaphor for the shifting moods and humors of Jordablod’s mercurial riff assault. It’s unfortunate that my eyes now are as empty as that of the lower mask after staring at the sun in pursuit of legendry; it’s as if I too bore witness to Jordablod’s grandeur and went blind for my ambition, but in this case it was the sun.

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3. Lvx Hæresis – Descensŭs Spīrĭtŭs
(Artist: Lemmy Gonthier)

In a departure from the vibrant covers I recall in the previous two entries, Lemmy Gonthier’s painting for Lvx Hæresis‘s Descensŭs Spīrĭtŭs perfectly embodies the stark humanity and desire for transcendence that you can hear in the Swiss band’s torturous black metal notes. The grayscale palette epitomizes the light and dark duality of the record, revealing what the band seeks to illuminate, namely the heretical light and the sublime nature of forbidden truths. At least, that’s what I believe it depicts. In truth, I couldn’t tell you if this cover has any color at all, for I am totally blind after besting Leif Bearikson and proving man’s dominance over nature and space and time. Like the tortured figure on the cover, I too know the agony of triumph.

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2. Horrified – Allure of the Fallen
(Artist: Adam Burke, aka Nightjar)

Prior to losing my vision, I’d sadly spent less time gazing upon Adam Burke’s frankly beautiful painting for Horrified‘s splendorous new record Allure of the Fallen than the other pieces here. However, it’s plain upon pressing play that the rich impressionism captured by Burke perfectly portrays the glorious light of riffs shining down upon death metal’s cold, dank mustiness. Every brush stroke conveys one of the many, many rich riffs layered in the expansive orchestration of the album, and the piercing light is emblematic both of the shimmering melodies and of the actual sunlight that sizzled my retinas and stole my ability to gaze upon the face of my firstborn child. At least I’ll be able to conjure any image I like for my future child’s facial features; there’s an upside to everything, and as the heroic music of Horrified reminds us, even beauty can erupt forth from ugliness (and blindness).

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1. Arrow – Lady Nite
(Artist: Ekaterina Bolshevina)

Now, I haven’t actually seen this cover since I’m blind, but Randall Thor assures me that Arrow‘s Lady Nite is true poser-slaying power metal with equally true cover art. He alleges that the cover features a stark expressionist painting of the Tunguska event, complete with a rich coloration and hazy features that convey the pointlessness of technology and the hopelessness of progress. It sounds like a downer to me, but Randall has never led me astray with poor art before, and now that I’m in a vulnerable state after gaining eternal infamy by allowing my eyes to fly too close to the sun like Icarus on his doomed voyage, I have to believe him. He also assures me that the art isn’t at all a comic book depiction of a female warrior, complete with exaggerated sexy posture, or a bad photoshop. I sure wish I could see what Bolshevina has painted. It sounds magical.

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Okay, friends. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what your favorite album art is this year. I won’t be able to read your comments, so please call my office phone and leave me a voicemail. I promise I’ll get to all of them.

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