Album art is such an important piece of music in 2019, the way we find music usually starts with the album artwork as the first point of contact. On Bandcamp new arrivals, social posts, at the record store and listicles just like this one – the covers are key. Despite how important art is to music, the majority of album posting on the internet does not credit the artist. So here is 25 of my favorite album covers from 2019, with artist credit and links – please follow these artists.
This list includes albums not yet released, don’t need to hear it to like the art. Album links will go to Bandcamp or my review. Any interpretations of the work are my own subjective ones and not necessarily those of the artists. This is not a ranking of the music in any way. Stay tuned for my end of year music lists next month.
25. Artwork by Pedro Sena (Lordigan).
When you’re making an Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind concept album you need Morrowind concept art and Lordigan delivers this in spades. Clearly a fellow fan, they’ve created this cover featuring the Bitter Coast Region and the native Netch species. The volcano at centre is Blight Mountain where big bad Dagoth Ur resides. Neat.
24. Artwork by Timbul Cahyono (Bvllmetal Art).
Paradox is a sequel or spiritual remake of The Key (1990) by Nocturnus and Bvllmetal has made a very fitting homage to that original album art. It’s a very faithful and badass reimagining of the lovecraftian wars found within the album’s concepts.
23. Artwork by Joe Petagno.
Petagno is a well known artist in the metal community having done a lot of majestic works for bands and metal publications. There’s a lot of fantasy in one image here and I really enjoy the little skulls over the bridge.
22. Artwork by Saloni Sinha.
There’s a very peaceful or restful nature to the otherwise mystical image here and this is the case with a lot of Saloni’s art. This looks great on cassette and I’m glad to have it as a part of my collection.
21. Artwork by Artem Grigoryev
This cover is a literal interpretation of the album title and I admire that. They’ve done well to capture the quiet reserve of a hunter, even if it is a cosmic one. The shape of the moon is interesting and there’s an overall old pen and paper roleplaying vibe to it.
20. Artwork by Michael Whelan.
Another cassette I cherish for it’s artwork, this is a textbook fantasy scene though very well executed with vibrant colors and an interesting perspective of the road.
19. Artwork by Anni Buchner.
This cover is largely symbolism and aesthetic, two very important part of album covers, often even more so than technique. There was an idea here and it went hand in hand with the album making a great physical product for the band.
18. Artwork by Luke Oram.
Luke Oram is a machine, here’s an interview with him and a bunch of his covers including this one for a Dark Souls concept album. He’s managed to create a faithful Souls image without use of trademarks. The vague labyrinth that is the Souls entwining level design is represented well on the horizon.
17. Artwork by Rosario))).
Cyttorak is one of my favorite EP’s and cassettes in 2019 and it started with this space squid design. The framing suits tape perfectly and the plain black and white suits the genre really well and is pretty much the standard with these kind of sludge/hardcore releases. It’s a neat subculture within heavy music.
16. Artwork by Sidjimbe Art.
Just holy moley, this is a vibrant and eye catching album cover. Even the mild reuse of assets is done well to where it’s not a detriment.
15. Artwork by Bruce Pennington.
Bruce Pennington is a well known scifi artist since forever and is the perfect artist for Blood Incantation. This depiction of the alien is quite vintage and the overall composition of the background works wonders. Green, blue, yellow and purple baby.
14. Artwork by Kuba Sokólski.
4 bands and 4 killer doom songs, the cover represents this across multiple dimensions. Not just the face split into 4 but also the corner framing provides us so much flavor. This is some third eye shit, well done.
13. Artwork by Mariusz Lewandowski.
I had to pick one and this is my favorite of the 99 released this year by Lewandowski, all featuring little things juxtapositioned against giant things with similar colors. I like this one the most because because this giant character isn’t like the others, it feels more human and peaceful.
12. Artwork by Heavy Hand.
Praise be the bong from which man smoketh, what we have here is a giant bong organ and bone altar in one. This is a memorable cover album that should trigger the amusement of any stoner.
11. Artwork by Mark Cooper.
Mark Cooper always does the art for RoS and he always nails it. This time around instead of alien humanoids and landscapes we have the very literal Saturn in all of its glory. Such a busy piece with a lot of symmetry. I still need to get this on cassette.
10. Artwork by Adam Burke.
Such a talented artist, especially when dealing with horizons. It doesn’t matter if it’s space or the ocean or mountains or what, he can do it better than anyone. This one in particular I chose for it’s gorgeous framing. Another one I want on cassette, what a year!
9. Artwork by Adam Burke (again).
I didn’t even know this was Burke when I placed it on the list so that’s pretty crazy! As usual he does a wonderful horizon and landscape, this time however there is a castle. Fuck yeah. And yep, got this cassette.
8. Artwork by Paolo Gerardi.
Another familiar name in the metal scene, this yet to be released album features a dense and mystical forest and if you look closely at that mountain centre right, that aint a mountain. I’m super keen on this one, keep an eye out for a pre-release review soon.
7. Artwork by Chase Slaker.
This piece was actually done by the band’s guitarist. It’s one of the most curious artworks I’ve seen this year and it calls to mind a lot of esoteric notions. Fanciful places in my mind informed by various fictions. It’s evocative.
5. Artwork by Caelan Stokkermans.
This is a great all rounder of a piece with good design ideas and a very tidy but expressive style. You might not notice the background in general listening of the album but there’s quite a bit going on, including my favorite album art feature: Architecture. It’s common place to have architecture as the focus but there’s something about including in the background as a minor detail that’s basically showing off.
4. Artwork by T. Ketola.
Dark and natural colors make up this beautiful piece, a scene featuring a seemingly suffering humanoid by a bone campfire. I love how the smoke is distorted and blending, composing the rest of the painting with it’s own suffocating presence.
3. Artwork by Julian Vice Ilustrados.
This work perfectly embodies all of the stoner tropes and earlier this year it endeared itself to me for this reason. There’s also a lot technique and talent involved here in the framing, linework and coloring. It’s the kind of picture you can explore because it has a physical depth to it, shooting from the surf to the stars and a bunch of little details in between.
2. Artwork by Alex CF.
Alex is a particularly talented son of a gun as the vocalist for Archivist, as well as their artist and an epic artist in his own right and author… and other stuff I’m sure. You know when one person gets all the talent? This is a curious work with some outsider ideas and symbolism. The use of the squares of space is very interesting and seems to indicate the universe is within this creature. The colors here are quite “other” dimensional and it’s texture changes with the parts of the body. Very bloody cool, check out his other works from this year.
- Artwork by Eliran Kantor.
This is one of the most striking pieces I’ve seen, full stop. The texture and coloring of it are grotesquely “real”. The body horror imagery combined with the expressions of ruination go together like shit in your pants. I’m surprised this didn’t wind up in a gallery somewhere instead of an album cover but I’m glad it did. Kantor’s art compliments this album in a profoundly dark way, giving a presence to the music that perhaps any other cover would have underserved. I can’t imagine an argument against this taking the number 1 spot, it’s a pure monstrosity.