Mass’ Top 30 Album Covers of 2019

First Echelon

Kantor is an established artist within metal community and has worked with a good number of substantial artists and bands, from Testament to Sodom, Bloodbath, Tristania and Soulfly, to name but a few.

Pandemonium – Monuments of Tragedy by Eliran Kantor

This art piece exudes nihilism and despair. It is the end of the line. The blurriness of the components, of both the buildings in the background and the soldier and his rifle in the foreground, has given a near-death vibe to this work and made it quite impersonal and alienated. It as well reminds me of a war-time anecdote my veteran father used to recite of his time in the battlefields and how he saved a suicidal soldier on the brink of pulling the trigger, who later on thanked my dad for “saving his life that night”.

Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged and Unbound by Eliran Kantor

What struck me clean off my feet was not the grandiosity of this artwork or the unrestrained expression of gore and decay, neither was it the manifestation of upfront agony on some faces which locked my attention on it. Actually, it was the composed and unruffled countenance of the leftmost face, the imploding-with-dread-but-unable-to-let-it-out one on the central face and the dramatically rueful one on the top right corner of this piece.

I have picked two pieces from Kantor, one for its artistic elegance and the other for personal relevance and connection, both equally commendable.  

The Deathtrip – Demon Solar Totem by Luciana Lupe Vasconcelos

The figure at the center of this artwork brings to mind the traditional Japanese demonology, entities like Oiwa or Uji no hashihime, and their form of artistic representation. On a more general level, this work resembles the occult nature of many rich cultures and not just that of Japan. With only a few colors, a masterpiece of both profundity and expressiveness has been created by Vasconcelos.

Wormwood – Nattarvet by Mario Polzin

This artwork is unquestionably a top-tier, world-class artwork in and of itself and optimal for a black metal album. It is exceedingly attention-grabbing and it reflects the paradigms of the genre it belongs to. The sharp colors and the contrast between the elements, not to mention the scenery it depicts, have constructed a piercing visual art. The fact that the logo of the band has not occupied much space and it is not “in your face” is also another plus for the artwork.

Swallow The Sun – When A Shadow Is Forced into the Light by Fursy Teyssier

Simple and yet imposing. This artwork is Death illustrated. Every element in this piece
echoes death, from the ragged anthropoid figure, with a skull for head (mask), holding a
sword on top of a heap of cadavers at the center, to the still sky on top and the murky
water at the bottom. The Teyssier’s dark palette kindles a cold-burning fire with black
flames in the viewer’s heart.

A Pale Horse Named Death – When The World Becomes Undone by Mister Sam Shearon

This artwork is a symphony of decay. All the nuanced touches and details of this dead horse’s carcass are superb and praiseworthy; Sam Shearon’s artisanship here is phenomenal. The foreground of this work is so remarkable that one might even forget to appreciate the eerie background, the buildings, sky and all.

Timeworn – Leave The Soul for Now by Boris Groh.

This is the second work by the Ukrainian artist Boris Groh on my list (the other one being Pandemonium’s Monuments of Tragedy). I have decided to keep them both as they belong to two separate styles of painting. This one, which I would like to call The Giants’ Uprising (yeah, I would call it that, who cares?), has a sense of awe and mystique. Faceless, mummy-looking giants, which are enshrouded partially in a haze, are strolling among dead woods and upon snow-covered trails. It is such a breath-taking sight!

Novembers Doom – Nephilim Grove by Pig Hands

The ominous malevolence in the air and a hooved demon figure, at whose feet death and destruction lie, make this artwork a superbly bloodcurdling piece. The eclipsed moon, the solitary hut (could be a church) in the distance, the dead and dying lambs, and formidable clouds create this ill-omened atmosphere, not to mention the deathly stare in the eyes of the figures.

Rotting Christ – The Heretics by Maximos Manolis

This artwork is a forthright transposition of values and common beliefs with respect to the duality of belief/nonbelief or Christianity/skepticism. As cleverly portrayed here, it is in fact a priest and a monk that are putting a scraggy old body (who could be regarded as a heretic) on a pyre. The monk has a taunting sneer on his face and the priest is looking at the viewer through a pair of dead, empty eyes. It is neither the heathen nor the clergymen, nor even the pleading man on the ground which is notable and outstanding but the zombie-looking Jesus, with his crown of thorns and emotionless facial expression, observing the man on the pyre.

Drudkh – A Few Lines in Archaic Ukrainian probably by Sir Gorgoroth. This person is credited for layout and design of the album and no more is known of this esoteric band.

If this album cover is not Drudkh all the way to the hilt, then I don’t know what is! It is soulless, frigid, unpretentious yet artful and visually stunning. The rural scenery and the rustic texture of the drawn image in the middle is a glimpse from ancient Ukraine. The fact that the artist has decided to leave much of the space on this canvas empty channels even more attentions towards the central subject of this work, namely the huts. It is hiemal and it is deathly. It is Drudkh.

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