T-shirt design based on Torche’s UFO single, by Chris Parks
“Metal art was about freedom and rebellion,” says Chris Parks of Pale Horse Design, who has created poster and T-shirt designs for bands, including Megadeth and The Cult. “The more offensive, disgusting, satanic and rebellious, the better!”
Like the attitudes that produced them, this prevailing style of cover has been replaced by something more mature – at least for the more socially acceptable side of the genre.
“This is possibly due to designers from my generation onwards being part of the post-1990 typography and graphic design revolution,” says Seldon Hunt, who has produced artwork for hipster-friendly metal acts like Isis and Acid Mothers Temple.
“Up until the mid 90s, I think the culture of metal still maintained a conceptual leaning towards ‘anti-order/authority’, which was subsequently reflected in the layout. The releases were supposed to resonate some kind of chaotic, demonic insanity.”
Seldon notes that the album art was specifically conceived to be something parents would disapprove of: “portals into a spirited rejection of the mainstream’s ideas of sensibility”, as he describes them. Once the genre moved beyond this, the door was open for a more educated design sensibility.
“The music is growing up a bit – and so is the marketing,” agrees Brian. “There are still bands that have gruesome or misogynist art and prosper from it. Some bands are still singing about storming the castle or making sweet, sweet love to their stripper girlfriends. And they have an audience that totally loves it.
“Then there are the straight-edge Christian Metal bands who go in a different direction with their packaging and do just as well – if not better.”
Jared Connor (aka Mexican Chocolate Design) has created posters for punk and metal bands including Slayer, Turbonegro and Melvins