Welcome to the 2018 Musicalypse Award nominations! Should it have a theme? Should it be artistic? Is simplicity best? Is that ugly or fantastic? There are many questions and opinions when it comes to picking the best album art, but here are our thoughts on what the best art was, and why:
1. Psychework: Karelian Hills
2. Riverside: Wasteland
3. Kobra & the Lotus: Prevail II
While I only casually enjoy Psychework – their music is just so friggin’ packed with everything that I get overwhelmed by it – I have to really give them credit for the art on Karelian Hills. Not only do I love the style, the color, and the imagery, but their debut album was on my list of worst album art of its year, so the huge step up in quality is also noteworthy.
Riverside has always had interesting and unique album covers, and this year was no different. The muted greys, eerie atmosphere, and strange broken statue-like image all work together to create a nice look overall.
Kobra & the Lotus promised to release the two Prevail albums in 2 years, and even though I was disappointed with Prevail II musically, I appreciate that they had an ongoing visual theme running between the two albums, and it’s more mature-looking than a simple ‘this is the light album and this is the dark album’ theme. Plus the design itself is cool enough on its own.
Worst Album Art: Eat the Elephant by A Perfect Circle. These guys have always had interesting, artistic artwork, and now it was just a creepy-looking dude with blood on his lips holding an octopus? Not only is it not aesthetically pleasing to me, but it also seems to make no sense.
1. Lunatic Soul – Under the Fragmented Sky
2. Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog
3. Amorphis – Queen of Time
I like how Lunatic Soul‘s Under the Fragmented Sky continues with the same red color scheme and glass shard imagery as last year’s Fractured, yet now there’s also a person on the cover.
Rainier Fog by Alice in Chains comes in second, as its artwork looks cool in the digipak format, and although the cover looks a little simplistic on first look, it’s got lots of little details.
My third choice is Amorphis‘ Queen of Time, which looks fresh due to the more futuristic vibe it has compared to earlier Amorphis covers, and I like how it references the lyrics of “The Bee.”
1. Ghost – Prequelle
2. Psycroptic – As the Kingdom Drowns
3. Khemmis – Desolation
Granted, when looking at the cover art of Ghost‘s Prequelle on a phone, it looks kind of messy. However, when it was released, I got the gatefold LP and I knew right then and there it would be the best album art of the year. It looks like a real Medieval painting of a hellscape. There’s so much detail to look at that it almost distracts from the fact that the latter half of the album itself is actually kind of dull.
I have a soft spot for monsters. Psycroptic‘s As the Kingdom Drowns has a stark color scheme and an imposing figure looming over the puny, insignificant mankind. The beast is eyeless, further adding to the inhuman feel. It’s as powerful an image as the album needs.
As for Khemmis, I like the style. It reminds me of Ralph Bakhsi but just a bit smoother. Their previous albums had been done in the same style with different main colors such as the last one, Hunted, which was in turquoise. It gets me in the mood for a fantasy adventure. Solid nerdy fun.
Honorable mentions: Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura, Warrel Dane – Shadow Work, Vreid – Lifehunger, Septicflesh – Codex Omega, Anaal Nathrakh – A New Kind of Horror, Iskald – Innhøstinga, Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained
1. Mantar – The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze
2. Parasite Inc. – Dead and Alive
3. Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
In no particular order, I liked these album covers the best. Mantar‘s The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze refers to classic arts, with a sleek golden cover artwork that is a juxtaposition when you listen to their grim and moody music.
Parasite Inc.’s dystopian look fits very well with the album. The band pushes this style through in everything they do, from lyric videos to Facebook covers.
The Shadow Theory by Kamelot also gets a mention because, in general, I’ve always loved Kamelot’s cover art. It’s just too beautiful not to be nominated.