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.
Eye contact has different impacts on the cover and the viewer. Firstly the cover has a visual centre, an element everything else is subordinated to. But more importantly the cover builds a personal connection to the viewer. There’s that expression that eyes are the windows to the soul (even if the eyes are rotten) and in this case the eyes are the window to the story the band wants to tell with their record. In a very intriguing way.
The impact of eye contact is so powerful because it is instinctive and connected with humans’ early survival patterns. Children who could attract and maintain eye contact, and therefore increase attention, had the best chance of being fed and cared for (source). That also explains the vast usage of eye contact in advertising. You want to sell your product? Have a product’s testimonial look right into the customers’ eyes, they’ll trust him.
Above you see a montage of 32 Metal cover artworks – arranged, resized and overlayed to fit the pair of eyes in each one of them. This nicely visualizes the importance of eyes in these artworks. Everything blurs away but the eyes.
The Metal covers are also depicted below. They are by Venom, The Crown, Squash Bowels (previously on Symmetal), Slayer, Six Feet Under, Severe Torture, Satyricon, Phobia (previously on Symmetal), Nasum, Nachtmystium (previously on Symmetal), Motörhead, Megadeth, Medeia, Leng Tch’e, Lakei, Kreator (previously on Symmetal), Iron Maiden, Integrity, Impaled Nazarene, Immortal (previously on Symmetal), Hypocrisy, Hatebreed, Dying Fetus, Divine Heresy, Dimmu Borgir (previously on Symmetal), Devil Driver, Decapitated, Dark Fortress, Cephalic Carnage, Black Haven and Abiotic.