Sunday Sesh: Album Art of the Year

Lists, the time-honored blessing and curse of the music fan. Every single year, genre enthusiasts fret and fritter to compile, compare, and contrast binding records of the best albums released. Few genre fans do so with as much vitriol and entitlement as metalheads. It is a burden in which we all share. Yet, there is one component of the genre we often neglect in our rush to carve our tastes into stone; in our haste to recognize the most meritorious works of art released each calendar cycle, we forget the art adorning those albums. Now that 2016 has reached the point of no return, let us set aside our music lists for one moment and lock horns over the most pleasing album covers released yet on this orbit.

There have been a number of album covers I’ve quite enjoyed this year. Le Dernier Crépuscule featured a chilling landscape that invoked bygone curses from days that should not have been forgotten. Triangle contemplated the design of man with its plaintive symmetry and bold use of form. Darkness Transcends by Setentia employed a biomechanical light with a sickening hue to invite us into parts beyond where humans must not go. All great examples, and yet each of these pales in comparison to what I consider the most striking piece yet released in 2016. Though it has not technically been released yet, the illustration adorning Predatory Light’s self-titled album surpasses all others.

PL_web_comp_FINAL

Although the Santa Fe spellcasters are no strangers to excellent art (as can be seen in the featured image from 2014’s MMXIV), the band has transcended all with this latest piece. It is a work that perfectly captures the spirit and tone of the music it presents. Stark. Bleak. Metaphyscial. It accompanies a hermetic work of music that seeks divination and enlightenment, and by presenting this image first, the band welcomes us into their harrowing vision, baptizing us that our eyes might be open. The chiaroscuro, bold lines, and prominent form of the figure all reveal (or perhaps betray) the human condition and the means of overcoming it. This piece is both repulsive and beautiful, like the music of Predatory Light. This cover is, in a word, perfect.

I can’t wait for you to hear the album yourselves, but while you wait, sate your thirst on the band’s previous split with Vorde. It is raw, unhinged, and yet not without refinement. It is the perfect appetizer for what is to come.

Now that I’ve blathered on about my favorite art of the year, it’s your turn. Have any album covers spoken to you? Does your favorite album of 2016 also feature your favorite art of 2016? Sound off in the comments below.

 

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Published on: July 24, 2016

Filled Under: Open Swim

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  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Not “art” per say, but one of my favorite album covers so far this year is Hideous Obscure by Occult Burial. The centralized skull and candles us surrounded by the smoke covered band members with outstretched hands grasping invisible orbs, all with a blue overtone really sets the mood for the album. You know exactly what you’re getting.

    This may be a case of so bad it’s good, but I absolutely like this album cover.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      As far as actual artwork, Nucleus – Sentient and Sewercide – Immortalized in Suffering are both killer. Dunsmuir’s album cover evokes the Heavy Metal and Weird Tales magazine imagery the story pulls from, so I really like that one as well.

      • Eliza

        I really like the cover the Nucleus album as well. Dan Seagrave is an amazing artist.

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          That is a fact!

    • RJA

      I love this cover too – tells you exactly what you’re getting!

    • Stanley

      This record finally showed up last week.

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        How are you liking it?

    • I do love this one. Reminds me of Sextrash’s “Sexual Carnage”. NSFW
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      http://img.cdandlp.com/2014/04/imgL/116586604.jpg

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        Well how ’bout that.

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        This one reminds me of Witchfinder General.

  • Eliza

    I had this as my wallpaper for a while. I love the color scheme and the detail that went into it.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      I enjoy the sky’s mixture of colors, it doesn’t seem natural but it works very well for the tone.

      • Eliza

        I noticed that too. I like it, because it creates a uncomfortable atmosphere and makes it sand out.

    • Spirit Adrift

      THIS!

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    That predatory Light cover is pretty wicked! Another cover that I think represents it’s album well is Altarage’s Nihl. The scene that the observer is walking in on is eerie and of unknown origin, much like the band’s style. The vastness in the image also correlates with the band’s cavernous sound, while the color palette (or lack there of) sets the bleak mood.

    • Eliza

      I’m saving this one, it’s stunning.

    • TrundleTheGreat

      Any art done by Nick Keller is awesome.

      • Eliza

        I checked out some of his art, it’s a visual feast.

    • RJA

      I was really put off by the font on that one – to be annoyingly nitpicky. I still need to really listen to that record.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      This might be my favorite. What a nightmare.

    • tertius_decimus

      Nice cover art.

    • It’s very H.R. Giger

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        For certain

    • Stockhausen

      Ooh, I forgot about that one.

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        That’s why I’m here buddy, that’s why I’m here.

        • Stockhausen

          I also forgot about that album. Hail the Boss.

  • ME GORAK!!!™

    VIC RATTLEHEAD – ROBOT SAMARAI!!!!!!!
    http://dystopia.megadeth.com/images/dystopia.jpg

    • ME GORAK!!!™
    • tertius_decimus
      • Eliza

        It would’ve been ok if not for the huge ants.

        • tertius_decimus

          [DT nerd mode on]It’s allusion to our lives! Alvin Toffler in 70’s wrote alot how the speed of life has changed throghout years and continues to gain momentum! And then there’s that famous Koyaanisqatsi movie by Godfrey Reggio that chimes perfectly with the title of an album! How can’t you see?[DT nerd mode off/]

          This cover art is the epitome of tastelessness. The music is okay. The last DT’s truly enjoyable album before they lost the grip on reality.

          • Eliza

            I only like a few DT albums, and those are from the earlier part of their career. Later on their music got boring, in my opinion. But at least the covers of their albums weren’t as hilaribad as this one.

          • tertius_decimus

            IMO, the band, actually, is able to write memorable music, however given the amount of tours and side projects by every member in the band (no matter current or past), they have no time to overlook what was done, what went wrong and when. It’s a train without brakes that is descending from the steep slope at insane speed.

          • Eliza

            To me, the final nail in the coffin was when Portnoy left the band. They lost all of their energy because of that.

          • tertius_decimus

            Don’t wanna to go with the flow on the topic if Pornoy’s departure was worthless or not. As mere listeners who aren’t even fans of their music, we can only speculate on what kind of chemistry was inside the band. It seems like somehow Mike’s ass-hole-ish nature was outweighing band’s unstoppable train of thought.

          • Eliza

            That’s what must’ve happened. It’s not like I care that much, to be honest.

          • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

            No, he helped make their………….

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoDCvhS-9ME

          • Eliza

            I actually like the cover of this album.

          • tertius_decimus

            …and few more albums. Among mid-00 albums this is my less favorite. However it’s their heaviest one.

          • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

            Good movie (Koyaanisqatsi)! Been a long long time since I’ve seen it, though.

          • tertius_decimus

            Yep, agree. And the soundtrack by Philip Glass is unfuckwithable.

    • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

      They got so lazy they decided to stick Yoshimitsu (Tekken) in the middle of The Astounding.

      http://gyazo.com/7037f05c657f37318430e452b81dbdb4.png

  • Rob M
  • Abradolf Lincler
    • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

      That Ihsahn artwork still reminds me of someone on a ski trip. Great album, though! Just needs artwork that doesn’t look like someone on vacation in Aspen.

    • Stockhausen

      That Nadra cover is very Geryon-esque.

    • Eliza

      I like the first four.

    • Abradolf Lincler

      that Ifrinn cover is tite

      • RJA

        Indeed and awesome cover – makes me think of silver surfer!

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      Did I tell you that I saw Blackfoot? The turnout was depressingly small but they were so good. Only 30 people showed up and by the time Blackfoot was done there was about 20 people.

  • RJA

    After Randall mentioned rate your music I went there and started the insane journey of cataloging my entire collection – I just finished metal vinyl – check it out if you like or respond if you are on there.
    https://rateyourmusic.com/~RJAckelson

    • Abradolf Lincler

      3.5 stars for Baptism’s As the Darkness enters? now thats a paddlin’

      • RJA

        ha! a LOT of stuff is rated 3.5 stars for now as I added all of those over the last few days!

        • Abradolf Lincler

          this is a crazy collection. more than twice the size of my fledgling vinyl collection. very impressive

          • RJA

            Well, I have 20-25 years of collecting. I would like to say that’s most of the entire collection (including cd’s and not metal vinyl) but it’s probably about 30%!

          • Abradolf Lincler

            that said, nearly 100% crossover between us from what i can tell

          • Abradolf Lincler

            PS – the two remastered Agalloch discs sound great. cant decide whether i like the original mixes better or not. no extreme changes. bass tone now incredible

          • RJA

            I saw your comment about the corner dings – I haven’t had a ton of problem with that over the years but it is always a bit of a buzzkill when you’ve spent the kind of money vinyl like that commands.

          • RJA

            I appreciate that. Obviously I posted it here because my wife wasn’t as properly impressed as she should have been.

    • Followed!

  • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

    Haven’t really thought much of an AOTY so far, but this is one of the contenders. Dreamy, warm, forests ‘n shit………….. black metal?! Yes, it exists apparently, and sorta reminds me of Aquaria’s instrumental stuff on certain parts. And I love the album art as well (kinda reminds me of Everfrost’s newest CD cover, but without the delightful weebiness).

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=video&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj157SIrozOAhUJ2T4KHXgCDLwQtwIIHDAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DYCyXH2l59Wg&usg=AFQjCNFZOo1Sr_Xugkza7B6igdjtQpHt6Q&sig2=5ztvQASTJZYvn2wi8llV0Q&bvm=bv.127984354,d.dmo

    The Everfrost album cover I mentioned:

    https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1478436200_10.jpg

  • tigeraid
  • tigeraid
    • Abradolf Lincler

      hes got some nice bewbs

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Breastviking

        • Abradolf Lincler

          Jomsboobking

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Bosomquest

          • Abradolf Lincler

            . . . now I want to play Everquest, Cybro. good job.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      That album cover is so disappointing. I enjoy Amon Amarth and this album is good, but their last few album covers have been sucking.

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        Their album art hasn’t ever been brilliant though.

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          Brilliant? No. But never this bad.
          Once Sent and Versus are pretty cool. Everything else is average at best. The past 3 albums have had really good ideas, just poor execution in my opinion.

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Idk, seems pretty much same as ever to me. Twilight, Versus, Once Sent and Avenger are the better half when it comes to execution. But honestly, they’re all pretty much the same, nothing to write home about. And none of them is much worse or better. Only that Deceiver’s is a notch below the rest.

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            Fair enough, my dude. Deceiver is just not good, haha

      • tigeraid

        booo.

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          Sword Songs has a better cover

          • tigeraid

            well obv.

    • Max

      I first read that as “Ten million vikings.”

  • RJA

    this one was pretty alright too – can’t go wrong with bekskinski

    • Eliza

      I adore Beksinski’s art, but I prefer it when albums have original album art.

  • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo
    • Eliza

      The zombie looks surprised. Or maybe a little scared.

      • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

        And slow in the head. Looks like a hilariously bad, undead Johnny Winter.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      It looks like a Disney character

      • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

        Lol, I just showed it to my roomies’ 3 year old and 6 year old. Comments ranged from “he looks stupid” and “he needs to take a poop”.

  • Stanley

    I’m not quite sure if it’s two people being eaten/expelled or if it’s one person with a very long body.

    • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

      It’s a portal. In from the other mouth, out from the other.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      …Bluesatan

    • Eliza

      This made me chuckle a little bit.

    • This album rules!!!

      • Stanley

        Did you get the free patch?

    • Dubbbz

      My money is on human centipede.

  • Stanley

    The Predatory Light/Vorde split is the most beautiful piece of wax.

    • CT-12

      Got to see Predatory Light with Bolzer last year, they were really, really good; stoked to hear whatever new shit they come out with.

    • RJA

      Tis pretty sweet – I believe I have the black vinyl of this unfortunately.

    • more beer

      That is one excellent stout pictured.

  • tertius_decimus
  • CT-12

    Lotta good covers from Unspeakable Axe in here

    • CT-12

      Almost forgot these beauties!

      • Just listened to that Graves at Sea yesterday. Good shit!

        • CT-12

          Pretty damn long album, definitely one of those albums you have to chew on quite a bit to fully “get it”. Still in fair rotation for me.

    • DUDE! I forgot about that A.M.S.G. artwork. That’s shit is incredible.

    • Abradolf Lincler

      ooh yeah that Uada cover

  • Howard Dean

    Favorite artwork thus far: The cover to Fecal Addiction’s disgusting EP, Engorged With Human Waste (solid slab of third world slam/goregrind, too):

    https://deathgrind.club/_ph/3/710141037.jpg

    • Insert Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom quote here ___________________

      • Count_Breznak

        “I can’t eat rice with my fingers like this.”

  • The best unsigned band (now signed) in Wyoming, Reproacher has some art I like for their new album.
    https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a4210926180_10.jpg

  • Abradolf Lincler

    Anyone playing Neverwinter for PS4?

  • Stockhausen

    I’ve really liked Howls of Ebb, Zhrine, and Uada.

    • Stockhausen

      And Wode also had a Lovecraftian feel in the art, which is what really appealed to me in the Zhrine cover.

      • Dubbbz

        That Wode cover was a Beksinski piece.

  • more beer

    I saw Extremely Rotten last night. With Lenzig from Cephalic Carnage doing guest vocals for them. It was a really good set. They are playing with him at Chicago Domination Fest next week. You Chicago people should go check them out.You won’t be disappointed.

    • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

      Are they a new band? I definitely never heard of them back when I was there.

      • more beer

        They aren’t a Chicago band. I believe they are are from Florida but relocated here. But either way they are very good.

      • more beer

        I saw so many bands this weekend. I’m listening to this. But they are really good rock n roll band.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jm8jsTXGAU

        • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

          Supersuckers got back together?!?!? YEEEES!

          • more beer

            They’ve been together. They are touring a country record they did. No fucks given from me. They are my go to band for friends who don’t like metal. They are unfuckwithable.

          • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

            They kick ass! IIRC, one of the guys was in Didjits.

        • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

          I mostly remember this video from way back when. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCh0bLxqtHQ

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I can’t think of a good album cover from the bands I like that have released albums this year so I’m going into the vaults of my music knowledge to bring you my favorite album cover from the early 70’s. It’s relatively subtle but the subtlety adds to how good it is.

  • JWEG

    Just a few favourites from only my Bandcamp collection of 2016. All really excellent albums, too (you’ll recognize a few from my Half-AOTY list last month).

    https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a3530019647_16.jpg

    https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1566250018_16.jpg

    https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a3919623326_16.jpg

    https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a2095442626_16.jpg

    https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1474238513_16.jpg

    https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1036682778_16.jpg

    https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a0501970514_16.jpg

    And a borderline-but-probably-ineligible one, Vinyl was 2016. Album technically 2015 though:
    https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1471087007_16.jpg

    • JWEG

      Here’s a borderline-but-probably-ineligible one, Vinyl was 2016.
      The digital album was technically out by late 2015 though:

      https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1471087007_16.jpg

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        Still looks rad!

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      I really like that Orion cover

  • Dave Vincent’s Perm

    I’m guessing the reissued cover of Eparistera Daimones doesn’t count, but I’m gonna say it anyway.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Giger always counts

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    Apparently Anvil released an album this year so I guess for best album cover of the year I’ll pick that. I love that all their album covers have anvils on them.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Normally I would agree, but this one is bad and not in a good way

  • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

    Lush released a new one this year. Definite contender for AOTY.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNHD2_iqD70

  • Leif Bearikson

    I’m a sucker for Seagrave