Metal imagery incorporates various elements from different sources – Mythological, traditional, regional, fictional, historical and many many others. This post is about one specific stylistic element: the deck of cards. The four card icons spades, clubs, hearts and diamonds can be found in different Metal genres as logos or album art. Pictured above are Motörhead’s Ace of Spades, Victims‘ iconic logo, Accept’s cover art for “Metal Heart” and Axel Rudi Pell’s cover art for “Diamonds unlocked”.
“Ace of Spades” is the fourth album by the British band Motörhead. Released on 8 November 1980, it peaked at #4 on the UK album charts and reached Gold status by March 1981 (source). The title song might be among the most popular songs in Metal’s history.
Victims was formed 1997 in Nyköping, Sweden. They combine straight up hardcore and punk rock. The icon pictured above became one of their trade icons and appears quite everywhere. On different album covers, shirts, prints, posters or their website. And when I saw Trap Them a while ago in Hamburg’s Hafenklang, I even noticed that their lead singer Ryan McKenney had the icon tattoed on both of his knees. Nice.
“Metal Heart” is a 1985 release by German heavy metal band Accept. Although the card icon isn’t as clear in this one as in the examples of Motörhead or Victims, the interpretation of the heart as an 80s styled robot/machine has a nice touch to it.
“Diamonds Unlocked” is the twelfth album by German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell. It is a cover album released in September/October 2007 (source). This might be the weakest of the above mentioned examples, but the cards icon is the centre of the artwork.
There are even more examples to find. Numerous different hearts (iconic and anatomical illustrations) for different bands playing different kinds of Metal. And Blacklisted’s cover art for their 2005 release “We’re unstoppable” even depicts another ace of spades with an integrated skull. It somehow seems to be the unborn son of Motörhead’s and Victims’ icons.