Moonspell is a Portuguese Black/Gothic Metal band formed in 1992. They have released nine albums to this day with the recently released Alpha Noir/Omega White being the latest one. Moonspell’s original logo highlights the band’s Black Metal heritage with an integrated pentagram and a thorn like illustration. Very interesting in the old logo is the use of double Metal Descenders in both “L”s and the “M”. But it still isn’t a raw and brutal Black Metal logo by being rather ornamental and filigree. Their current logo is simpler, better readable and less explicit of the band’s musical direction. It fits to the development of the band as the old Black Metal logo wouldn’t represent Moonspell’s musical output today.
In Flames is a melodic Death Metal band from Gothenburg in Sweden and was formed in 1990. Since the band’s inception, they have released ten studio albums and one live DVD. As of 2008, In Flames has sold over 2 million records worldwide (source), which – for Death Metal standards – is huge. The original In Flames logo was featured on their debut release Lunar strain. Afterwards their logo changed several times to less Metal-ish logos (based on existing typefaces) and finally to the current logo design that resembles scratches on wood or a quick ballpen doodle.
At The Gates‘ amazing original logo in all its beauty has been featured on Symmetal before, so I don’t need to introduce the band or its logo again. In contrast their current logo (as they started playing live shows again) is less playful and more graphical, based on an existing typeface in italic and with the addition of a rectangle. The typeface is a grotesque font – which is kind of funny as the original bandmebers were in a band called Grotesque. This logo is featured on their most famous release Slaughter of The Soul in a fiery golden look.
Immortal is a Norwegian Black Metal band from Bergen founded in 1990. They have released nine full length albums from 1992 (Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism) to 2009 (All Shall Fall). Their original logo – again featuring Metal Descenders – has everything a Black Metal enthusiast wants: inverted cross, pentagramm and barbed wire. What I personally like about this logo is the resemblance of the Metal Descenders with shiny long black hair. This logo was used for their debut Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, 1992’s Pure Holocaust and 1995’s Battles in the North.
Regurgitate is a Grindcore band from Sweden formed in 1990. They have released five full length albums, a shitload of splits (with Suppository, Cripple Bastards, Dead Infection, Gore Beyond Necropsy, …) and appeared on several compilations. What I love about their original logo is the obvious scrapbook origin. It still looks like roughly drawn somewhere, quickly scanned and published. No graphic-design rules, no aesthetic rules, no ornaments and fuck you, legibility!
One thing these examples demonstrate is that a lot of bands exchange their original complex and Metal cliche (in a good way) logos with very basic logos most often based on existing typefaces. They just add minor details (like dirt and drips in the Regurgitate one or the double “o” in the Moonspell one) to individualize them. That way they have more mass appeal and help the bands to grow and reach new targets groups. And don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great thing when a band evolves and becomes successful. Some people might think of Immortal today as the popstars of Black Metal and blame them to betray the true heritage of Black Metal. I still like their music and live performances and am happy for them that they manage to pay their bills with doing what they love.