Best metal album art of 2014


40 Watt Sun poster by Costin Chioreanu

My favourite metal art of 2014 doesn’t come from an album cover, but a poster. I’ve been a great admirer of Costin Chioreanu for a couple years, and with time the Romanian artist’s work just keeps getting better and better. He was commissioned to do the poster art for the Roadburn Festival this past year, and the one he made for 40 Watt Sun leapt out at me like no other. His surreal work is always best left open to interpretation, but in that image I keep seeing a portrait of a perpetual dreamer, whose imagination is so vivid it’s all he or she can take to keep his or her self intact. I saw myself in that image, and thought, I must have that. So I bought the poster at the festival, carried it across Western Europe on foot, buses, trains, subways, taxis, and planes, and safely got it home, where it’s since been plaque mounted and now occupies a place of honour on my wall. (Adrien Begrand)



Thy Darkened Shade – Liber Lvcifer I cover painting by Vamperess Imperium


Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry cover by Necrolord (Kristian Wålin)

Best goes to Greece’s THY DARKENED SHADE for the artwork by Vamperess Imperium* topping their painfully named yet very well executed full-length Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet. (Danielle Griscti)

There’s probably at least a dozen worthy of mention (Ringworm, Pilgrim, Mastodon, Kuolemanlaakso, Jagged Vision, Gatecreeper, Fu Manchu, Device, Blues Pills, Astrakhan) but the one that really appeals to me is for Blut Aus Nord‘s Memoria Vatusta III – Saturnian Poetry. The landscape was painted by Kristian “Necrolord” Wålin. A majestic river valley banked by low mountains and an array of trees beneath the sun near the horizon and gathering clouds. I love it! (Matt Hinch)



Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun artwork by Skinner

A digital image doesn’t do my album art pick of the year justice. But if you get the chance to experience Mastodon‘s Once More ‘Round the Sun in its deluxe vinyl glory, make sure you spend a little time with the amazingly colourful, elaborate and mesmerizing artwork by Skinner.* (Laura Wiebe)


Album cover art of Castle, Artificial Brain and Cretin

(left to right) Castle – Under Siege by Denis Forkas Kostromitin, Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation by Paolo Girardi, Cretin – Stranger by Emerson Murray

Three album covers that really jumped out at me this year all had something in common – paint. The Travis Smith inspired digital style (no disrespect – I still love his stuff) has been overdone for so many years, getting back to something more physical seems to appeal more to my senses. Cretin, Castle and Artificial Brain have gone with some beautiful pieces to represent their releases – all albums where I was excited to hear what was underneath their cover’s strokes, thanks in part to artwork by Emerson Murray, Denis Forkas Kostromitin and Paolo Girardi(Adam Wills)

 *Edited to include additional artist information.

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Laura is associate editor of and co-host of weekly metal show Kill Eat Exploit the Weak on CFMU 93.3 FM. She loves doom, prog, cats and basketball, believes in equity and social justice and is not cool with any form of discrimination, marginalization, harassment or oppression.

Adam has been a photographer for Hellbound since day 1 and also has a hand in the technical aspects of running the site.