2014 was an interesting year for Berlin-based artist, Eliran Kantor. His reputation as one of the world's to-go Metal cover artists continued to grow thanks to his work for heavyweights like Iced Earth, Incantation, and for younger acts like Artizan and Gormathon, among many others. Without a doubt, the classic sensibilities of his distinctive brushing and mature conceptual approach, demonstrate the depth of an artist aware of his capabilities as a visual communicator.
Bellow, the man himself reveals the details behind the creation of some of the covers he painted for albums that came out during 2014, or that will be released this year. He also promised more awesome imagery to come in 2015. Metal fans out there can rest assured: with artists as talented as Kantor, the visual legacy of heavy music will stay wildly fascinating!
Artizan - The Furthest Reaches:
"Ty (Artizan's drummer) wanted me to do a sci-fi piece to compliment the concept record they are working on. I don't think I can reveal the actual story, as the album is still being recorded, but as you can tell from the cover - Egypt, aliens and ancient secret technology play a prominent role. I wanted to have a movie poster type of piece that won't feel too cheesy and cliche. So I came up with the idea of a UFO decapitating the Sphinx, revealing the secret alien technology that was hidden inside all along."
Big End Bolt - Killstruments & Deathods:
"Vocalist Igor (also of Katalepsy) approached me with a very clear concept, of having a realistic (and a bit baroque-like) vision of a future where people return to old methods of punishment, executed by robotic mechanisms. With the instrument of choice being a modern interpretation of the 'Blood Eagle' torture/myth."
Contracrash - Thy Kingdom Come:
"This is a more of a straight-up comic book type of piece, the album revolves around a story the band wrote of this tragic super hero."
Gormathon - Following The Beast:
"The band asked me to paint my version of the legend of Hårga, about how the devil, disguised as a fiddler, deceived the youth of the Hårga village (just outside of Bollnäs, Sweden) to dance until death on a hilltop. This is still mixed-media piece , which always include hand-painting with various materials."
Iced Earth - Plagues Of Babylon:
"[Guitarist] Jon Schaffer had a very clear vision of how he wanted this to look and it worked out great. I contributed the weird throne design which is part cross and part dollar symbol. Set Abominae's staff also got a new look, and Century Media molded a pendant after it for the mail-order limited edition."
Incantation - Dirges of Elysium:
"This is a combination of Norse and Greek mythologies. Angrboda gives birth to Fenris the wolf and Jörmungandr the serpent, squeezing her pregnant belly, and the pre-labor gush/placenta form the rivers of Elysium."
Kenn Nardi - Dancing With The Past:
"I was never so emotionally invested on an album before," he comments. "But how often do you get to work on what shaped up to be one of your favorite records? Only a handful released in the last decade made that list – maybe. I couldn't find a single uninspired moment on Kenn’s 28 song double-album. I love it and urge every metal fan to check it out."
"I took inspiration from the title track, which was written as a metaphor for someone who is unable to let go of some relationship or thing from their past. They try to "dance " with this person or thing, but dancing requires participation from your partner. Ultimately they end up dragging around a "corpse" or ghostly representation of this person or thing. It is only awkward and a burden and this dance, rather than a thing of beauty and grace, becomes macabre and burdensome. So my idea was to create another metaphor for that futile dance, and what I came up with resulted in what you see on the cover."
Johannes Zetterberg - Equanimity:
"Johannes explained the title as a state of mental or emotional stability or composure arising from a deep awareness of the present moment. He described this as something that most musicians probably try to achieve, where being in the "now" when playing & improvising. The concept I had in mind was about retaining your balance in the eye of the storm and transforming the situation to a form of expression - I pictured a sort of surreal balancing scales, with wild horses clashing and a human trapeze figure balancing off of them in grace and total control."
Mammothor - Tyrannicide:
"Playing off both the album title and the band moniker on this one. It's a David and Goliath story, if Goliath was to look like how a Mammothor sounds like (to me at least) and led a leather-bound marching brigade."
Orpheus Blade - Wolf's Cry:
"The story itself is quite plot-based and not as abstract as the cover. But we said right from the start 'we don't want any wolves on the cover or tell too much of the plot.' So the cover relates more to the actual essence behind the story told in the lyrics. My idea was to illustrate this inner conflict and struggle in the form of a naked human figure, trying to tame the monster she creates which is also a part of her—notice the hair turning into the monster. The monster is also shaped like audio waves to focus the 'creative process' specifically on composing music, even if the viewer won't really notice it, it was meant to work on a more subtle level."
Satan - Trail of Fire: Live in North America:
"As fire sets the tone of the last album cover (Life Sentence), I wanted to focus this one on what you usually get afterwards - ashes left behind. Hence the burnt coal frame. The band came up with the title 'Trail of Fire' probably referring to being on the road, and it's symbolized by the judge's wig morphing into a trail of burning wooden logs, and the trail of fire actually leads to a trial by fire. I wanted the story told on the band's covers to move forward too - 'Court in the Act' was a trial scene, 'Life Sentence' showed the incarceration stage, and now we're witnessing the execution."
Stones Of Madness - Stones Of Madness:
"[Vocalist] Kelly Shaefer wrote me saying they wanted my own modern twist on the band's namesake. The Bosch piece depicts what appears to be a healer and a priest, digging into a patient's head in order to cure his insanity. In my version, I decided to paint a politician and a surgeon, pulling audio tape from a woman's ear and video tape from her eye; as movies, television, video games and music are now being accused of corrupting the minds of youth... I'm not expressing criticism towards surgeons though, I just wanted to make the removing procedure appear more absurd."
Striker - City Of Gold:
"I was in charge of creating a front cover concept around the "City Of Gold' theme. I imagined a scene serving as a prequel to the golden cities myth, in which a magician from an ancient tribe covers himself with eternal flowing gold, endlessly pouring from a sacred mask. The gold is covering his entire body then later on the entire city. The clouds in the sky form the golden ring serpent."