A study in despair, domineered by the promise of agony …

A simple task for the followers of Wormness this week … take a squinty-eyed look at your collection. We all know that the visual aesthetic of metal has a part to play in our enjoyment of the music; thus, what albums display your most favorite music-related artwork, and why does said artwork continue to resonate with you? To aid in your decision-making, take a moment to peruse this weeks’s WG offerings to the ungods: Rytkonen reviews the ‘chopped-up mess’ of Abbey ov Thelema, the Stockholmish-sounds of Ending Quest, and the flute-love of the (at least for now, still) Ukranian band Zgard, while Cliftonium hails yet another Shatraug emission (Mortualia) and the I-can’t-belive-it’s-not-boring (seriously, it really isn’t) thrash of Shards of Humanity. Post comments! Post playlists! Pursue happiness (You will fail)!

Marty Rytkonen Playlist
Over Kill – S/T 4 song MLP (Many thanks Aaron for this gem!)
Nuclear Assault – Game Over/The Plague
Nuclear Assault – Survive
Nuclear Assault – Handle With Care
Holy Terror – Mind Wars
Taake – All (Such a killer and consistent band! One of my Norwegian faves)
Panopticon – Roads to the North (On repeat! So dense and compositionally amazing!)
Ending Quest – The Summoning
Dark Angel – Leave Scars
Ahamkara – The Embers of the Stars

Jim Clifton Playlist
Opthalamalia – A Long Journey(demo)
Order From Chaos – Rehearsal 10.02.1992
Bad Brains – Quickness
King Diamond – Them
Dark Angel – Leave Scars
Corpsessed – Abysmal Thresholds
Weakling – Dead As Dreams
Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind
Ifing – Against the Weald LP
Binah – A Triad of Plagues 7”

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~ by martyworm on June 11, 2014.

7 Responses to “A study in despair, domineered by the promise of agony …”

  1. Absolutely killer work, Gentlemen.
    I really appreciate all that you guys do to keep us up to speed on new stuff. The embedded youtube links are great for listening/exploring while reading.
    Thanks, Marty, for bringing the new Zgard to my attention. I have enjoyed all of his previous releases, and was not aware he had a new one on the way. Ordered! Jim, your review of Mortualia slays! I could not agree more. I have already pre-ordered my copy from Moribund (it is always an honor to support Odin and Maia, who have been delivering the goods for so many years).

    Like many/most of you, the visual aesthetic/artwork plays a HUGE role for me. From monochrome images of deepest wilderness to vivid dreamscapes of ultimate phantasmagoria … if the music is the other dimension, then the artwork truly is the ‘gate’. Album artwork is the armour of forgotten gods, the veil of ancient spirits, and the key to realms of endless imagination. I would not refer to this as a ‘simple’ task, guys. Ha! I could spend a year listing different album artwork and commenting enthusiastically. Too many to choose from. Where to even begin?
    Not having the time to delve into my stacks, I suppose I will simply mention a few that come to mind without a major physical unearthing of the collection or excessive prodding of compartmentalized long-term memory.

    Trist – Hin-Fort
    … the ultimate journey of man … to imagine/aspire, to leap/strive, to transform/transcend
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Trist/Hin-fort/152975

    Mortiis – Keiser av en Dimensjon Ukjent
    … like a nostalgia cannon … full of majestic wonder and arcane power.
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Mortiis/Keiser_av_en_dimension_ukjent/293

    Smaga – My Land
    … a perfect amalgamation of old-world Baltic mythos and solemn ‘metallic’ grandeur.
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/%D0%A1%D0%BC%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%B0/%D0%9C%D0%BE%D0%B8_%D0%B7%D0%B5%D0%BC%D0%BB%D0%B8/184599

    Cirith Ungol – Frost and Fire
    … Elric = Epic …
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Cirith_Ungol/Frost_and_Fire/1765

    A very recent one that really caught my attention was Hoth’s Oathbreaker. Thematically iconic, and stylized enough to allow extrapolation of the existing mythology.
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Hoth/Oathbreaker/405188

    Summoning – um, all their covers, no comment necessary

    Perunwit – W Kregu Debow
    … epitomizes the early Polish scene to me …
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Perunwit/W_kr%C4%99gu_d%C4%99b%C3%B3w/274206

    I will not even get into all the otherworldly (no ‘gore’ nonsense) death metal artwork!
    I will try to post more as they come to mind.

    Playlist for this evening:

    Affliction Gate – Shattered Ante Mortem Illusions
    gather strength at 1:40, unleash at 1:50, and drop the riff-hammer at 2:10.

    Zess – Et In Arcadia Ego

  2. Absolutely killer work, Gentlemen.
    I really appreciate all that you guys do to keep us up to speed on new stuff. The embedded youtube links are great for listening/exploring while reading.
    Thanks, Marty, for bringing the new Zgard to my attention. I have enjoyed all of his previous releases, and was not aware he had a new one on the way. Ordered! Jim, your review of Mortualia slays! I could not agree more. I have already pre-ordered my copy from Moribund (it is always an honor to support Odin and Maia, who have been delivering the goods for so many years).

    Like many/most of you, the visual aesthetic/artwork plays a HUGE role for me. From monochrome images of deepest wilderness to vivid dreamscapes of ultimate phantasmagoria … if the music is the other dimension, then the artwork truly is the ‘gate’. Album artwork is the armour of forgotten gods, the veil of ancient spirits, and the key to realms of endless imagination. I would not refer to this as a ‘simple’ task, guys. Ha! I could spend a year listing different album artwork and commenting enthusiastically. Too many to choose from. Where to even begin?
    Not having the time to delve into my stacks, I suppose I will simply mention a few that come to mind without a major physical unearthing of the collection or excessive prodding of compartmentalized long-term memory.

    Trist – Hin-Fort
    … the ultimate journey of man … to imagine/aspire, to leap/strive, to transform/transcend
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Trist/Hin-fort/152975

    Mortiis – Keiser av en Dimensjon Ukjent
    … like a nostalgia cannon … full of majestic wonder and arcane power.
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Mortiis/Keiser_av_en_dimension_ukjent/293

    Smaga – My Land
    … a perfect amalgamation of old-world Baltic mythos and solemn ‘metallic’ grandeur.
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/%D0%A1%D0%BC%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%B0/%D0%9C%D0%BE%D0%B8_%D0%B7%D0%B5%D0%BC%D0%BB%D0%B8/184599

    Cirith Ungol – Frost and Fire
    … Elric = Epic …
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Cirith_Ungol/Frost_and_Fire/1765

    A very recent one that really caught my attention was Hoth’s Oathbreaker. Thematically iconic, and stylized enough to allow extrapolation of the existing mythology.
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Hoth/Oathbreaker/405188

    Summoning – um, all their covers, no comment necessary

    Perunwit – W Kregu Debow
    … epitomizes the early Polish scene to me …
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Perunwit/W_kr%C4%99gu_d%C4%99b%C3%B3w/274206

    I will not even get into all the otherworldly (no ‘gore’ nonsense) death metal artwork! ie Caducity – Whirler of Fate
    I will try to post more as they come to mind.

    Playlist for this evening:

    Affliction Gate – Shattered Ante Mortem Illusions
    gather strength at 1:40, unleash at 1:50, and drop the riff-hammer at 2:10.

    Zess – Et In Arcadia Ego

  3. I am not sure why my first entry was double-posted. It was undoubtedly a glitch on my tech side. Apologies for the redundancy/mistake.

    I woke with a couple more visions/covers in my mind:

    Gangrena – Infected Ideologies
    I have always been strongly drawn to this artwork. It is a different take on death metal’s often ‘corporeal’ slant. Synapses firing within the ‘brain’ of the cosmos.
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Gangrena/Infected_Ideologies/46763

    Infected Virulence – Music of Melkor
    I was enthralled with this cover when it came out. It always reminded me of a death metal concept as realized by Hayao Miyazaki during his Nausicaa era. It immediately transports me to a place of shelter and strength amidst a world of barren and harsh desolation.
    http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Infected_Virulence/Music_of_Melkor/125859

    Alternate cover for Alda’s Tahoma.
    A very fitting image, and a fantastic realization of the overarching concept “the spirit of the land” in album artwork. Great album, too.
    http://metalbandcamp.com/2012/04/alda-tahoma.html

  4. Oh geez, I love and admire so many works of cover art it’s hard to even fathom. As an illustrator myself, one of the things that drew me to metal was all the incredible covers. Everything from the sheer ridiculousness of a Cannibal Corpse cover to the stark Darkthrone covers and everything in-between. Even bands I don’t like often times have killer artwork. I tend to enjoy the over embellished power metal album covers and the intricate paintings of a lot of death metal albums but all also enjoy the scenery photos that grace a lot of black metal.

    From a design standpoint I’ve always liked the aesthetics of the Type O Negative albums as they all followed the same general design and look like the are all part of a series.

    Yeah, my love of this topic is too vast to nail down to specifics.

    Darkest Era – Severance
    Emperor – In the Nightside Eclipse 20th Anniversary Edition
    Falconer – Black Moon Rising
    Vilkacis – The Fever of War
    Tombs – Savage Gold
    Seidr – Ginnungagap
    Anathema – Distant Satellites
    Anagnorisis – Beyond All Light
    Falconer – Black Moon Rising
    Speticflesh – Titan
    Incantation – Dirges of Elysium
    Arcturus – The Sham Mirrors
    Bastard Sapling – Dragged From Our Restless Trance
    Enthroned – Sovereigns
    Blind Guardian – Imaginations from the Other Side
    Obsequiae – Suspended in the Brume of Eos
    Eyehategod – Eyehategod
    Dawn – Naer Solen Gar Nider For Evogher
    Kvalvaag – Noema
    Skogen – I Döden
    Gravehill – Death Curse

  5. I’ve long been obsessed with album cover artwork…from the time I was a very young boy and my dad ( a major vinyl collector at one time) played Alan Parson’s “I Robot” and Police “Synchronicity” which at the time shocked me with their enigmatic vaguely sinister cover art and set the tone for me seeking out music and images that gave me the same feeling. One cover that springs to mind is Morbid Angel’s Blessed Are the Sick, not only was that album a gateway into esoteric death metal, but the cover served as my introduction to Symbolist artwork. Some others are Sortilege – Metamorphose, TOOH – Pod Vladou Bice, Entombed – Clandestine, Recursion’s – Transcendence in Impermenance, the artwork of Lugubrum, recent Paolo Girardi paintings and pretty much anything that is insanely detailed and looks like it could’ve been the work of a mental patient.

    Can – Inner Space
    Can – Future Days
    Anata – The Conductor’s Departure
    Darkthrone – Soulside Journey
    Occultation – Live WFMU
    Zemial – For the Glory of Ur
    Necrambulant – Infernal Infectious Necro-Ambulatory Pandemic
    Seventh Angel – The Torment
    Old Wainds – Nordraum
    Crux – Rev Smrti
    Mayhem – Esoteric Warfare
    Pentwater – Pentwater

  6. Mayhem – Esoteric Warfare (Great Record!)
    Black Rock – S/T Demo
    HeavyDeath -Demo II, III, IV
    Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall (over and over again)
    Triptykon – Melana Chasmata
    Runemagick – Envenom
    Unaussprechilchen kulten – Baphomet Pan Shub-Niggurath
    Goat Tyrant – Gate of the Necro
    The Exploited The Massacre
    Mortuary Drape – All the Witches Dance
    Yass-Waddah – Cities of the Red Night
    Satanic Ripper – Southern Black Spells
    Arkaik Excruciation – Among the Vortex of Chaos Demo
    Evoked Terror – Summoning Spectral Visions Demo
    Extermination Temple – Demo
    Live Burial – Demo
    Sacrificio – S/T Demo
    Temple Below – Temple Demo
    Triumvir Foul- Demo
    TeitanBlood – Death

    Do you recall the days when one couldn’t judge the music by the cover? Well, these days, that isn’t as true as it was before, BUT, one still must be careful. hehe.

    Perhaps to date, my favorite artist is Dennis Forkas. I love the dark obscure wonders of his paintings. I can stare at them for long periods and matrix so much within them. The more of Paolo Giradi’s work I see, the more I realize he is a one trick pony. His overall execution is quite amazing, but once you look at the details, it looks amateurish. He is overrated and overused. The new wave of artists coming to the fore in the last 10 years is amazing, and some of the very best: extreme talent, beautiful, dark, and lush detail. I mean, it seems like a renaissance of true art within the auspices of the Dark Metal realm has finally come. I love it.
    Costin Chioreanu is also amazing and prolific. The puts out an incredible amount of work, and its all great. Some stronger than others, but still, simply original.

    Having said all that, bands flock around these artists, and their appeal quickly fades, largely because bands that have no business using such great art get their hand son it via labels.

    I have never been a fan of cheesy covers, i.e. Bolt Thrower Warmaster, or Realm of Chaos, most of Dan Seagraves stuff (although I love Left Hand Path!) Dont’ care for most of it. It stupid. I prefer the rough rudimentary covers of demos to see how creative bands were to put something together on their own. That is a lot more interesting. Back in the day, labels like Metal Blade, Century Media and Earache had terrible taste and execution.

    Early works that caught my imagination and eye were Bathory’s Return, Morbid Angels ‘Blessed’, Dark Throne ‘A Blaze’.

  7. Playlist
    Anathema- Distant Satellites. 1st impression: another amazing chapter in their post-metal career.
    Zuul- To the Frontlines. NWOBHM worship done right. Thanks to Planet Metal.
    Destroyer 666- Unchain the Wolves. Have had this for awhile but FINALLY getting it to stick.

    Artwork
    The following LP covers are framed on my wall:
    Forbidden- Twisted into Form. Simple but cool graphic, very haunting.
    Sabbat- History of a Time to Come. Great detail w/o being overly complex. Foretells the direction Walkyier would move into.
    Judas Pries- Painkiller. Arguably my favorite ‘Priest album, and who doesn’t like winged mechanical demons riding a hellbike over a funereal landscape?
    Cirith Ungol- Frost and Fire. Great color scheme, iconic image.
    Praying Mantis- Time Tells No Lies. The only framed cover from an album I’m not nuts about. I may not dig the music, but ya gotta love the giant bug.
    Heir Apparent- Graceful Inheritance. Another cool graphic that’s deceptively hard to suss out.
    Helloween- Keeper of the Seven Keys pt II. It’x pretty, and Kai+Kiske era Helloween is still my most favoritest metal evah.
    While Heaven Wept- Vast Oceans Lachrymose. Lots of cool detail hidden in it, and the art lets you interpret certain sections in different ways. And the album is a monster.
    Jag Panzer- Ample Destruction. I own about 9 copies of this album, and who doesn’t like apocalyptic horsemen riding hellsteeds over a barren landscape? One of the genuine benchmarks of American Metal in both sound and appearance.
    Cirith Ungol- King of the Dead. If you have to ask, you’ve never seen the amazing art.
    And my favorite….
    Mercyful Fate- Don’t Break the Oath. Perfect image. Perfect colors. Is The Master issuing a warning, or passing final judgement? Also have an original banner w/ the artwork hanging over the turntable. Why hang up both the album and the banner? ‘Cause the art is that damn cool, that’s why.

    Honorable Mention (Waiting to Be Hung):
    Desolation Angels- s/t LP. Cause who doesn’t like a reaper riding a winged hellsteed over a funereal landscape? Also one of the finest NWOBHM albums ever released IMO.

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