Modern Metal you say? Well, although art follows no clear path and abides by no written rules, metal artwork has been a bit consistent in the 20th century rock/metal era, with the usual death, war, skulls and bloody themes that dominated most of the bands’ album covers, providing the bands with a certain powerful imagery that went along with the music.
Still, with all due respect to those who influenced the newer generation (Derek Riggs for his work with Iron Maiden, Pushead for his works with The Misfits and Metallica, Storm Thorgerson for his work with Pink Floyd, etc), I’m gonna highlight the top artists who’re taking over in the 21st century and creating works of art (album covers, t-shirts, logos and concert posters) that are as credited as the bands’ music is.
On a more local scale, I hope this will encourage young Lebanese artists to contribute with the local bands to create more ‘appealing’ albums that incorporate artwork other than pictures of the band itself.
Modern Artwork Part I
Dan Mumford is one of the top ‘modern’ artists and one can tell that from his drawing style that’s actually being used by almost every Core related project (from Suicide Silence to The Black Dahlia Murder to Gallows and others) and imitated by many newcomers. His illustrations are always so detailed and colorful, dark yet appealing! (which also gave his clothing “The Heretic” a huge push).
Emek is one of those artists who know how to use comedy in an artistic matter, along with a half psychedelic / half post industrial feel that few artists can match. His works with Audioslave/RATM, System of a Down, The Melvins, Tool, Nick Cave, etc show that this guy’s illustrations can be found everywhere, notably in the poster world where collectors would pay up to 1000 $ for his posters!
Travis Smith is probably the most renowned of all the artists mentioned here: Travis has worked with over 100 bands including Opeth, Riverside, Nevermore, Devin Townsend, Amorphis, Anathema and many many more. I personally find his work remarkable when it comes to creating genuine ideas with the perfect mood for the album; his style is referred to as dark and introspective and as he puts it: “… most of my stuff is usually conceptual, so I assume that’s what someone is asking for if they come to me”.
John Dyer Baizley
John Dyer Baizley is the rhythm guitarist / singer of Baroness; he’s also well known for his illustrations and t-shirt art for bands such as Darkest Hour, Skeletonwitch, Pig Destroyer, etc. John sets the standard for modern metal art, the same way Dan does with his wild graphics. His trademark style is complex, very detailed, original and enjoyable. Many artists consider him a main influence and his illustrations are widely tattooed! As John puts it “…while my work tends to be hidden in metaphor and heavy imagery, it’s very personally based.”