Clutch from Maryland, USA, released their latest album Earth Rocker in Spring 2013 selling 22,000 copies in the first week of release and debuting at position No. 15 on The Billboard 200 chart (source). The cover artwork is as amazing as the music is. It was created by Nick Lakiotes, a longtime Clutch art director, who has worked on previous efforts, including “Robot Hive/Exodus” and “Strange Cousins From The West”.
Most Metal cover artworks are based on recurrent sujets, elements or themes. Among the most common elements are those referring to death, torture, gore, religion, mysticism or politics. And when it comes to overall visual concepts the symmetry in its diverse forms is one of the most popular one. Maliciously one could say that the artists lack of innovations and creativity. But on the other hand why change a winning team? In that matter Metal is a quite reactionary genre. Admittedly there are always new streams, expressions and creations but in its deep core Metal always tries to conserve its traditional values.
One very interesting and very common symmetric concept for Metal covers are faces looking directly at the viewer. “Faces” and “looking” should be understrood rather freely, as we aren’t talking about regular faces or heads. More likely demon’s heads, skulls, melted faces, rotten faces, (gas) masks, animals or robots/cyborgs. And they don’t all have eyes in a traditional meaning. Some have none, others have objects coming out of them, are glowing in the dark or, well, are rotten. But the remarkable resemblance is that they all are making direct eye contact with the viewer.
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.
Talking about Metal imagery demands also some talking about the image of the Metalhead itself. And by „head“, we mean the „head“. Because ever since BLACK SABBATH the most common hairstyle in Metal is a symmetric one – the centre parting.
As almost everything in Metal goes back to the Birmingham foursome, we shouldn’t hesitate giving SABBATH the credit for the centre parting as well. Of course, this hair style has existed long before Metal, but it was them who brought it into the scene. For good!