Billy Talent is a Canadian rock band from Mississauga, Ontario, formed in 1993. They have released 5 studio albums (6 including their first album Watoosh! when still named Pezz in 1999) and one greatest hits album called Hits. Their latest record Afraid of Heights was released on July 29, 2016.
The artwork and illustration was created by Igor Hofbauer from Zagreb, Croatia, while the layout and packaging design was created by Antje Schröder. Igor has worked for several newspapers and books as an illustrator and has designed more than 100 posters for the club Močvara in Zagreb. He also designed more than 20 CD covers.
On his website Igor says about his inspiration:
I was influenced mostly by music and films. Comics did not influence me for a long time, except the Friedman brother’s work which I adored. My biggest music influence was the band This Heat. I always wanted to draw what they sound like.
The artwork for Billy Talent’s album Afraid of Heights is very simple but at the same time full of elements with room for interpretation. The overall style and color palette reminds of soviet propaganda posters from the Cold War – very bold, very loud, very simplistic. The duality of the artwork shows the dichotomy of today’s society. A man in a suit (representing the power of corporations) selling drugs, threatening with guns, using gasoline as leverage. The man and his environment are shown as a demon creating hell on opposite sides.
The overall subject of this artwork reminds me of Napalm Death’s Scum cover design (here’s a Symmetal article about that cover). The style is completely different, the visual references (demons, corporations, oil/gasoline, weapons) are exactly the same, just like the centered composition with the winged demon. Musically the two records and bands aren’t really close, but there are certain overlaps in what they want to say and stand for. Although Billy Talent’s songs on Afraid of Heights vary from social issues (Big Red Gun), their experience in the music business (Leave them all behind) to a Ramones tribute (Louder than the DJ).
So I wondered what a Billy Death – Afraid of Scum album cover would look like. Well, actually quite interesting as you can see below. And I’d really like to listen to Billy Talent covering Scum or Napalm Death playing Big Red Gun.
Anyway, here’s the cover artwork by Igor Hofbauer as well as the back cover. Beautifully crafted with the power to become an iconic artwork.