Over at Print Magazine, BB pal Alan Rapp takes a critical look at the evolution of heavy metal design, which has (mostly) moved beyond Frazetta-inspired bikini-clad rock chix in front of the apocalpyse and candles burning on skulls. Above, album cover for designer/musician Stephen O'Malley's band Khanate. From Print:
Gone are the fantasy illustrations of radioactive zombies and band logos composed of overlapping swords. After a generation of sprouting subgenres, the heavy metal field is littered with a diversity of styles that even the most hardy metalhead will have trouble encompassing. As Ian Christe, author of Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal and publisher of the metal-oriented press Bazillion Points says, "Heavy metal design is not a monolithic form at all. You have everything from junior high school kids in Iowa drawing skulls and pentagrams and band logos to Norwegian design houses making skulls and pentagrams and band logos. There are all levels of sophistication and intention–and execution."
Heavy metal design today comprises a vast field of images that no longer compulsively refer to adolescent power and provocation fantasies. The genre's pervading preoccupation with the occult yields far less goat and pentagram iconography–which became self-conscious clichés almost instantly anyway–than more ambiguously dark imagery. A few designers, some of the key musicians of the scene in their own right, have emerged to torque graphic conventions, and use strategies to indicate that metal, as a visual genre, is more multivalent and eloquent than mainstream design aficionados probably ever imagined.