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.
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.