Metal cover artwork is an integral part of the metal music genre. The artwork often reflects the themes and lyrics of the music and serves as a visual representation of the band's message and aesthetic.

One of the most iconic metal cover artwork is the 1982 debut album of Metallica, “Kill ‘Em All.” The cover features a hand holding a hammer and lightning bolts striking a globe, symbolizing the band’s aggressive and powerful sound. This cover set the standard for metal cover artwork and influenced countless other bands in the genre.

Metallica Kill 'Em All Cover Artwork
Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast Cover Artwork

Another notable example is the cover of Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast.” The cover depicts a demonic figure holding a book with the number 666 on it, representing the album’s themes of Satanism and the occult. The cover was controversial at the time of its release, but it has since become one of the most recognizable and influential metal cover artworks of all time.

The artwork of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” also stands out. The artwork is a simple yet powerful image of a humanoid figure with a metallic arm holding a sword, standing in front of a fiery background. This image perfectly represents the band’s dark and heavy sound, as well as their lyrics about mental illness and societal issues.

Black Sabbath - Paranoid Cover Artwork
Judas Priest - British Steel Cover Artwork

Many metal cover artworks also feature fantasy and science fiction elements. The cover of Judas Priest’s “British Steel” features a robotic hand holding a razor, representing the band’s futuristic and industrial sound. The cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver” features a knight diving into water, representing the album’s themes of good vs. evil and religion.

The artwork of Slayer’s “Seasons in the Abyss” is also noteworthy. The cover features a desolate and ruined landscape with a figure in the distance, representing the album’s themes of war and destruction. The cover perfectly captures the band’s aggressive and intense sound.

Slayer - Seasons in the Abyss Cover Artwork

The use of macabre and horror-inspired imagery is also prevalent in metal cover artwork. The cover of Cannibal Corpse’s “Butchered at Birth” features a dismembered and mutilated corpse, representing the band’s graphic and violent lyrics. The cover of Morbid Angel’s “Altars of Madness” features a flat disk of stone that has captured souls and is slowly petrifying them into stone, representing the band’s interest in the occult and the darker side of human nature.

Cannibal Corpse - Butchered at Birth Cover Art
Morbid Angel - Altars of Madness Cover Art

In recent years, many metal bands have started to incorporate more abstract and surreal elements into their cover artwork. The cover of Mastodon’s “Crack the Skye” features a floating figure surrounded by otherworldly landscapes and strange creatures, representing the album’s themes of astral projection and the afterlife. The cover of Gojira’s “Magma” features a volcano spewing lava, representing the album’s themes of nature and the environment.

Mastadon - Crack the Skye Cover Art
Gojira - Magma Cover Artwork

In conclusion, metal cover artwork is an important aspect of the genre and serves as a visual representation of the band’s message and aesthetic. From the iconic covers of Metallica and Iron Maiden to the more recent abstract and surreal covers of Mastodon and Gojira, metal cover artwork has played a significant role in shaping the genre and continues to be a creative and exciting aspect of it.

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