...And Justice For Art: A Guide to (some of) the Best Metal Album Covers of 2016 (Part 1) - Feat. Sourvein, Incite, Ihsahn & More

- May 20, 2016 at 10:25AM
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2016 has brought plenty of new Metal music and of course, plenty of awesome album covers. And Justice For Art is set to explore—through the bands and their graphic artists—the intricacies of some of the most interesting artworks adorning recordings released this year. Here's the first bunch... and don't worry, we're coming back soon with many, many more!

01. Sulphur - Omens Of Doom:
Celebrated Romanian visual artist/musician, Costin Chioreanu, recently produced the striking cover artwork for Omens Of Doom. This is the upcoming new album by experimental Norwegian Black/Death metallers, Sulphur.

Apparently, the image's dramatic color palette and symbolical overtones not only encompass the album's music and lyrics, but also the artist's inner world and points of view. According to Chioreanu, the graphic is "very tuned with my state of mind and feelings about this world, at this moment."


02. In Mourning - Afterglow:
Swedish metallers, In Mourning joined forced with his fellow countryman, veteran artist Kristian Wåhlin for the creation of the cover for the band's new album, Afterglow.

"We began to work with Kristian Wåhlin back on the previous album," the band comments. "It felt like he'd be the perfect guy to do the artwork. Both ourselves and Kristian played parts in the concept of the artwork. We had some ideas of what we wanted but nothing too specific as we kind of wanted him to have as free hands as possible. We gave Kristian some key elements like the lighthouse, the ocean and the overall fiery theme. He also got the song titles and the album title, to get an idea of where we were going with that."

As usual, Wahlin painted the artwork 100% old school, with no digital techniques involved. For the band, that's a testament to the Swedish artist's talents. They confess being "pretty nervous and pretty excited while waiting for the final work." The finished blown them away. "The artwork captures both the lyrical story as well as the vibe of the music perfectly. The burning lighthouse is an important part of the story, but the entire vibe of the painting really captures the mood of the music. We were all really amazed."


03. Izegrim - The Ferryman's End:
Israeli visual maestro, Eliran Kantor, adds another piece to his already superb portfolio (which includes artworks for Testament, Sigh, Iced Earth, etc.). This time is artwork for The Ferryman's End— the new album by Netherlands-based trash metallers, Izegrim.

This stunning mixed media piece, reveals a new twist to the classic myth of the Ferryman's job: to carry the souls of the dead to the other side. "On this scene he is killed," Kantor explains, "leaving the souls of the others killed by the hand of the same killer to dwell forever."


04. Thornbridge - What Will Prevail:
German power metallers, Thornbridge commissioned talented Spanish illustrator, Juanjo Castellano Rosado, with the creation of the cover artwork for their new album What Will Prevail.

"The concept focuses on a trial and subsequent execution of innocents," Castellano explains. "As the name of the band indicates, the Thornbridge, or bridge of thorns, is depicted on the cover. The artwork has a traditional touch of pure heavy metal style, a style that I personally love."

In addition, the band comments: "The cover has been developed over a long period of time and then, the individual ideas (the 'thornbride,' the hangings inspired by the song "What Will Prevail", the executioner, the law book, etc...) have been put together in a coherent scene by vocalist Mo and Juanjo."


05. Incite - Oppression:
Legendary British artist, Dan Seagrave, created the artwork for the fourth album of young metallers, Incite. Seagrave took the title "Oppression" quite seriously and crafted a piece with a severe claustrophobic atmosphere.

"The songs were the true inspiration for the cover. I wanted something that you could look at and have a good sense of how this record would come across. Dark and powerful," says vocalist Richie Cavalera. "The album is about my life, what I've been through, and how I see the world. So many events around the world inspire me, so when it came time for the cover I wanted something that showed oppression. The figures are bound down and beaten, but like me and most of the world, no matter how down we are… the fire always burns inside."

This is the second time Incite and Dan Seagrave work together after their previous collaboration in the album Up in Hell. "Because Oppression was the second time working with him, it went very fast," Cavalera says. "I looked around through some of his previous works and saw something that had my idea in mind. So once we had that, I sent him lyrics, album title, and the ideas behind the songs."

For Incite, and Cavalera in particular, have Seagrave as a part of their team is an honor. "He is such a cool person to work with, and his attention to detail is insane.When he sent me the draft I was blown away. It was perfect and exactly what we were looking for He actually paints these covers and it just blows my mind how real the feel of the art is."


06. Ihsahn - Arktis:
Spanish graphic artist, Ritxi Ostáriz continues his longtime collaboration with Norwegian Metal visionary, Ihsahn. This time, he designed the cover and layout Ihsahn's new album Arktis. "As always, it's been an amazing pleasure to work for Ihsahn," enthuses Ostáriz,

The front cover is basically a photograph of the 1800s Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, taken during his three-year expedition to the North Pole (see complete image and compare with the current art). This continues the photography-based aesthetics Ihsahn and Ostáriz explored on the cover of previous albums, like Eremita (2012) and After (2010). At the same time, this is a clear visual metaphor that signals the Norwegian vocalist/guitarist as an eager musical explorer.

Regarding the relationship between the album's music, lyrics and visuals, Ihsahn comments: "The whole atmosphere of facing the cold, immense unknown fits rather good with the general lyrical concept of the entire album. It paints a sense of doubt, hopelessness and frustration yet celebrates curiosity, free will and the choice to avoid conformity."


07. Sourvein - Aquatic Occult:
American bringers of doom, Sourvein, joined forces with their friend and collaborator, tattoo artist Jordan Barlow, for the cover of their interesting new album Aquatic Occult.

Frontman, T-Roy, assures that the cover is "a vision I had. as well as elements that inspired or relate to the lyrics and location where the album was written." He's referring to the band's hometown, Cape Fear, in North Carolina. "The cover incorporates everything we wanted… it came out perfect."

T-Roy reveals that some aspects of the image were "done a few years back and some just last year. Jordan is a good friend and amazing artist and tattooist in New Orleans. His style is what got me… I knew he could take my vision and sketch drawings to another level, which he did... He was the only person I wanted to do the cover and it’s great. He made it come to life."


*Be sure to also check out:
- A Guide to (some of) the Best Metal Album Covers of 2016 (Part 2) - Feat. Opeth, Testament, Venom Prison & More

"And Justice For Art" - The Book
- If you want to know more about the making of some of Metal's most iconic album covers—including Black Sabbath's 13, Metallica's ...And Justice For All, Sleep's Dopesmoker, Obituary's Cause Of Death, Opeth's Heritage, Neurosis' Times Of Grace, Skid Row's Slave To The Grind, and more—check out the book "...And Justice For Art: Stories About Heavy Metal Album Covers" and dare to explore this fascinating topic even further. The book is available exclusively at For more information, please visit: BigCartel.
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