Before the onset of the digital age of music, many bands relied on their Metal album Covers art to help convey thematically the album. It also served to fuel young imaginations in a time before YouTube and instant access to video and music.
Myself as a young person could spend hours getting lost in the visual details of these Metal Album covers art.
So here are 10 album covers that I particularly have always found visually appealing. Full disclosure there are a couple that is more in the vein of Hard Rock vs Metal, but visually they still evoke that Metal imagery in my opinion.
So let’s get going, in no particular order:
1: Somewhere In Time, Iron Maiden
Let’s face it, when it comes to incredible album art, Maiden has always been at the forefront. And picking just one cover from the countless amazing ones wasn’t easy. But for me personally, this is the one.
From the 1986 release. Illustrated by Derek Riggs, there is so much going on! From the futuristic street view to the numerous Easter Eggs hidden within the art.
It’s an incredible piece that took Riggs several weeks to completely paint.
2: Spiritual Healing, Death
1990, not only is this the album that introduced me to Chuck (RIP), it’s artwork is amazing and so perfect for the album’s theme.
Illustrated by the Metal imagery icon Ed Repka, and brilliantly depicting the now common story of a “man of God” who is essentially selling lies for their own profit.
3: Better Than Raw, Helloween
From the 1998 release and Illustrated by Rainer Laws. This is a great one! A witches lair featuring a scantily clad vixen stirring her cauldron. Amidst the relics and witchcraft ingredients are several of Helloween’s trademark Jack O Lanterns.
4: Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?, Megadeth
Another album cover featuring the art of Ed Repka. This is also the first time Vic Rattlehead had been illustrated as the now famous mascot we recognize.
An iconic image, it displays Vic resting on a “For Sale” sign outside of a destroyed U.N. building as fighter jets soar overhead. So cool!
5: Holy Diver, Dio
Fresh from being fired from Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio released this classic in 1983 and gifted the world some of the best known early 80’s Metal hits like Rainbow In The Dark and the title track.
Depicting the Dio mascot “Murray the Devil” appearing to be drowning a Catholic priest, this cover met with a lot of controversy at the time. Including landing Dio the reputation as a Satanist, and lending credence to the rumor his now famous hand gesture \m/, was, in fact, the sign of the Devil.
6: Master Of Puppets, Metallica
Released in 1986, Metallica’s 3rd studio album had very simple, but powerful imagery on its cover.
Illustrated by Don Brautigan, and based off a doodle of James Hetfield. It shows what appears to be a military cemetery with the ghostly hands of a puppet master pulling the strings… So great!!
7: Bat Out Of Hell, Meatloaf
The oldest and certainly least Metal of my selections, there’s no denying the awesomeness!!
From the hit 1977 release, it shows a man on a motorcycle rocketing out of a grave, while a monstrous bat screams to the night. Illustrated by Richard Corben, who was best known for his sci fi/fantasy paintings.
This was in my mom’s record collection, and I loved listening to the music and looking at the album art as a child.
8: Abigail, King Diamond
In 1987 King Diamond released Abigail. And although I was never really into King Diamond, a buddy of mine was, and I’ll never forget how cool this cover looked to me!
Done by Thomas Horn, it’s a dark piece with subtly contrasting colors. It shows a casket carriage and horses running down the road, and always brought to mind the image of the ghost carriage that takes souls to their end place.
9: Trilogy, Yngwie Malmsteen
Anyone who played metal guitar in the 80’s or early 90’s knows who Yngwie is! And though not the heaviest Metal, his guitar prowess is amazing!
Which makes this cover all the greater!! Another album from 1986, (a great year for Metal), it shows Yngwie defeating a Three Headed Dragon with the power of his guitar!
Cheesy, awesome and thoroughly 80’s, it’s a masterpiece of art!!
10: Everblack, The Black Dahlia Murder
The only selection from the new millennium, and not because there aren’t other great album covers from this time, but as mentioned before, the digital age of music brought about a steep decline in album concept and artwork.
Released in 2013 and Illustrated by Nick Keller.
This cover is ominous, evil and plain rad! With what appears to be an opening from Hell with a swirling cyclone behind a graveyard. It not only evokes mystery and darkness, it also shows that album art is not dead!
Hope you guys enjoyed the read! Believe me, there are plenty of Metal album covers featuring great art. I’ll work on another installment for the future.
Thanks again, and keep headbanging everyone!! \m/