BM Artwork

Posted by Vuurvliegje on 25th February, 2023 @ 11:19 UTCBy Vuurvliegje on 25-02-2023 @ 11:19 UTC

Let's face it ... all who favour BM have to a stronger of lesser degree a certain love for the artwork that is inextricable connected to genre from the very beginning of it. One says to not judge a book by its cover. Which it true. And yet, the very cover or artwork shapes the context in which an work of art presents itsself and sets out the possible contours of the experience the album brings forth. So, in more than one way, the artwork does matter.

As probably alot of you do, when new releases show up, I'm as intruiged by the artwork of it as I am by the music. So here's the thing, I invite all of you to share your favourite artwork on this thread, and let us know why you like it so much. Perhaps you know the story behind the work, or you could enlighten the rest of us by telling us what's actual there or happening. Perhaps you have a very personal story to tell which you associate with the artwork. Or you point us at some details which may go unnoticed to some of us. So all is possible, as long as you fan the fire in us and make clear why you are so passionate about that one cover.

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So let me start here by choosing one of the many covers that fueled the fire in me long ago: Songs of moors and misty fields by Empyrium.

I got in touch with the album quite early as I started diving into the genre almost 25 years ago by now. A former acquaintance handed me over loads and loads of material, some quite straight forward BM, others a bit more atmospheric BM or avant-garde. One of them this one, the second full lenght of Empyrium. And as far as intuition can go, I immediate felt this cover expressed an cardinal feature of what I was looking for in the genre. A dive into melancholy, set out towards some epic images of nature, as if that one monolith feeling is shattered into a myriad of colors and associations that set things in motion in a way that is hardly expressible in words. All we see is a shadowed tree that bents itself towards the sky, suggesting the vastness of the lonely landscape all around, sometime during sunset. The cover manages to capture the promise that's contained withing the album's title and fits the music like a glove, as if it were the visual representation of that 45 minutes of mournful melancholy music. The picture does not take up the whole of the cover by which it points even more towards image presented here. As if to say, let's not just take some nature imagry and fill all of the available space with it, but let's take a focal point, a window by which you enter this experience.

A few years ago I lucky to witness them live at 'The Casino' in Sint-Niklaas where they performed the full album with the convintion they must have had when releasing the album about 20 years earlier. Certainly matured somehow, perhaps rediscovered the strenght and impact of it. At the end I got myself the artbook of the album that comes along with some interviews, images and reflections about the band and specifically this album of course. The work contains a bigger picture of the cover, a photograph by Jürgen Holzhausen, and the reinterpretation of it by Fursy Teyssier which first ended up being the cover of the reissue LP 2015. Furthermore, the work contains some references to the artwork stating: "As the album title would suggest, so delicately represented in the sepia-toned cover artwork, Empyrium celebrated the inherently gothic imagry of fog-drenched fields and depictions of the jilted, tragic lover traipsing across the moors. Equally dramatic in sound, Stock's carefully crafted melodies, deliberatly paced and shimmering, painted melancholic sonic depictions of nature and lost love."

Nice idea for a thread. Cover art also plays a fundamental role for me in the experience of an album, and can elevate what would otherwise be a solid release to an all-time favourite. Some I would highlight, in no particular order:

Ascension - Consolamentum

I'm generally not a fan of Valnoir's art style, or the abstract/symbolism approach in general, however I think he absolutely nailed it with this one, the gushing blood, heart, lungs, and the stark red and white contrast are a perfect representation of the music within and gives it all a whole other dimension.

Drautran - Throne of the Depths

The serene underwater scene, together with the album's introduction, set the tone perfectly for the epic voyage that follows. Combined with the fact that this was the band's first and only album make it all the more memorable and unique for me.

Abigor - Nachthymnen

One of the classics. Anything purple-themed always catches my eye for some reason, and the sheer atmosphere given off by the gothic architecture, the creeping fog and the moonlight make it all particularly mezmerizing.

Wolves in the Throne Room - Diadem of Twelve Stars

Fairly self-explanatory. There are a million Black Metal albums depicting a nature scene, many are great, but this one really takes the crown for me. No logo or title is needed, the image perfectly captures the album, the band as a whole, and their beloved Cascadian homeland.

The Ruins of Beverast - Rain upon the Impure

For the longest time this was what I considered the greatest Black Metal album ever, maybe I still do, I'm not sure, but either way the cover art definitely contributed to this. I don't even know what's going on with it exactly, and the varying degrees of contrast and murkiness offered by the different versions of the album only enhance the mystique. Given the album's title, I assume it is depicting a monstruous downpour in some bleak landscape, but a part of me likes to think it is also a vast subterranean cavern, one of TRoB's recurring themes, and the music feels utterly subterranean.

Osculum Infame - Dor-Nu-Fauglith

An amazing scene, very calming and otherworldly. I love the way there is nothing to be seen beyond the ruins. Some versions of this feature three horses grazing around the courtyard, however the only versions I can find of this seem to also have cropped artwork and a blue overtone which detract from the atmosphere.

There's many more, but I'll leave it with Bölzer's two first EPs:

Good shit.

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