Album Covers That Deserve Death

The internet is littered with lists that chronicle the worst album covers in the history of music, but most of them are the same.  We’re all aware of how ridiculous the cover is for Whitesnake’s Lovehunter, and if there’s any album artwork on the planet that actively hates women, it’s the thankfully deleted cover for Ted Nugent’s Love Grenade.  But there’s a lot of dumb album covers that don’t get the ridicule they deserve, and since I’m nice and loaded, that’s what’s about to happen.

  • Korn – See You on the Other Side

If I were to get a hold of a time machine, travel back to 1832, and dropkick baby Lewis Carroll into a pit of ravenous wolves, I would be saving modern age from 90% of its shitty art.  I have no idea what in David Lynch’s name is going on here, but I’m guessing it’s Lewis Carroll’s fault, so I choose to blame him.

  • Danzig – 777: I Luciferi

“GRRRR I’M GLENN DANZIG AND I’M GONNA MAKE YOU SMELL MY CLAW GLOVE THING WHILE MY BANDMATES PLAY WITH THEMSELVES.  BUY MY RECORD!”  When Danzig was doing stuff like The Misfits and Samhain, the art he put together for his albums had a really neat DIY feel to them.  Around when his self-titled act took off, his Napoleon complex took over and he started filling his albums with photos of him with his shirt off, often times while he seemed to be molesting a trashy porn star.  To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, please draw your attention to the back of this record:

“Mmmm that’s right lick the glove girl, just like in Spinal Tap, oh yeah, DON’T LOOK AT ME, that’s right, oh yeah!”

Danzig definitely got his head shoved in one too many toilets in high school, possibly by Jerry Only and his friends.  I imagine the only girls who talked to him were his teachers, and even they openly hated him.  Instead of seeking therapy, he became a rock star with a seriously warped idea of what he looks cool doing, and a view of females that screams “I don’t fucking respect you people.”  But speaking of Jerry Only…

  • The Misfits – American Psycho

Hey kids!  Check out the latest Misfits record!  You know, the family-friendly band that sang about getting a messy blowjob from Jackie Kennedy, and aliens impregnating teenagers?  No?  Well you will now, because THERE’S A POSTER INSIDE! WOO-HOO!  We’ll also list some track’s you’ve never heard of on the cover, cuz they have the same names as horror movies and we gotta sell this shit somehow.

The Misfits were actually pretty good with Michale Graves fronting them, but this portrait of the Crimson Ghost is just plain wrongheaded.  Danzig co-opted that image from the 1946 serial and turned it into a punk rock icon.  Here, in his resurrected state, he looks like he’s trying to sell you a used car.

  • Madonna – Hard Candy

Ladies, let this be a shining example of the difference between aging gracefully, and trying desperately to cling to youth.  Faith No More summed up Madonna’s obnoxious need to reinvent herself ad nauseum in their classic tune “Midlife Crisis”, and that was back in 1992.  Hard Candy was released in 2008.

Madonna’s never been truly sexy, because she always tries way too hard.  Her attempts at sexuality usually comes off as forced like they do here, with the trashy spread eagle stance and dime-store dominatrix facial expression.  It doesn’t help that she looks like someone took her as a baby, loaded her into of one of those T-shirt guns, and fired her headfirst into a pole.  If Madge went away forever, I probably wouldn’t notice.

Hey, I just brought up Faith No More!  Segue!

  • Faith No More – The Real Thing

What the fuck am I even looking at?  A flaming raindrop over a dry lake bed?  Who comes up with this boring shit?  Whatever.  Usually with Faith No More, the better the album cover was, the worse the music was inside. This means that The Real Thing is one sweet record.  A sweet record with a dumb, nonsense jacket to house it.

  • Anthrax – The Sound of White Noise

Looks like The Grimace got diarrhea again.  Before this, Anthrax had some pretty kick-ass album covers.  Then they fired Joey Belladonna, hired John Bush, and tried to act like a grunge band, which apparently means having a bullshit abstract album cover, and filling the liner notes with photos of them looking aloof in diners.  The Sound of White Noise is actually a solid record, and “Only” is one of the best tracks Anthrax ever laid down.  But they entered the woods as a band after this album for obvious reasons, and the symptoms of the disease are on display above.

  • Slayer – God Hates Us All

While we’re picking on the Big Four of thrash, let’s look at one of the dumbest covers for a metal album, ever.  I can practically hear the meeting of dipshit marketing minds coming together and getting paid the big bucks to come up with bankrupt crap like this.  It would be easy to verbally destroy this affront to art, but Slayer’s own guitarist, Kerry King, already has.  When asked what the album’s art concept represented, he said the following:

“It represents a record company with absolutely no idea what the fuck they were going to do. If we would have had more time it could have been better. It looks like some seventh-grader defaced a Bible – cartoonish.”

There you have it, even the band thought it was terrible.  This is one of those instances in which in-store censorship yielded positive results, as the alternative cover was much better.

  • Metallica – …And Justice For All

Heresy!  But seriously, why don’t you just punch me in the face and tell me the justice system is corrupt?  It would have the same effect.  There’s a scene in the documentary Paradise Lost, in which then-teenager Damien Echols, who is falsely accused of killing children, explains the meaning behind this album cover/song in court.  In the film’s context, it illustrates a tragic irony, because Damien will eventually be falsely convicted of murdering kids.  Out of context, it simply illustrates how incredibly stupid and shallow this otherwise “iconic” cover art is.

  • Black Flag – Family Man

Oh Henry, get over yourself.  A “spoken word/instrumental” record?  Did you put that on there out of artistic pretension, or did you put it as a warning so fans wouldn’t crucify you after they paid money for this piece of shit?  Please do music and “spoken word” a favor and let life imitate your (cover) art, poser.

  • Limp Bizkit – Gold Cobra

Just look at the women here.  This is proof that listening to Limp Bizkit makes you stupid.

  • Mastodon – The Hunter

Mastodon has a great track record when it comes to killer album covers, so why they decided to go with an image that looks like a bull suddenly realizing it’s been shot in the ass on their latest record is beyond me.  Part of me thinks it was a marketing ploy to make people shell out a few extra bucks for the special edition, which sported decidedly less-stupid artwork.

That’s all…for now.

Monday Mosh / Faith No More / “Last Cup of Sorrow”

Faith No More wasn’t quite the same without Big Jim Martin on guitar, but this single off their final record, Album of the Year, proves that Jon Hudson was no slouch when it came to churning out a mean & memorable riff.

The music video for this song is a hilariously dead-on parody/homage to Hitchcock’s Vertigo (I’m a fan, did the theme of this site give it away?).  Vocalist Mike Patton stands in for Jimmy Stewart, while actress Jennifer Jason Leigh fills the shoes of Kim Novak.  The bit where she wakes up to find Patton awkwardly hiding a porno mag is a hilarious observation on the perversions of Hitchcock’s characters, something Brian De Palma unironically ran with in movies like Dressed to Kill and Body Double.

Monday Mosh / Faith No More / “Everything’s Ruined”

Note: I mostly write about movies, but I’m also crazy about metal and every weirdo sub-genre it has spawned.  Monday Mosh will be a weekly bit where I indulge that side of me a bit.  I pick a metal song, and write about it or something related to it.

I have to rant here for a bit.  People in the eighties grew up with hair metal, people in the late nineties and early aughts grew up with nu-metal, a combination of angry white people music (metal) and angry black people music (rap).  Liking hair metal is cool again, VH1’s I Love the Eighties declared it, and so it was.  Liking nu-metal, however, is not.  It enjoyed some serious popularity when I was in high school, but mostly it’s been written off as bourgeois angry white boy music (which a lot of it is).  A few bands have survived the trend such as the Deftones and Slipknot, but they have grown musically to where the nu metal label doesn’t really fit their recent work.  You can file most nu metal bands under the “guilty pleasure.”  Not in the ironic hipster way you file hair metal bands as guilty pleasures, but in the “I am completely and totally ashamed to admit I enjoy this” manner that you fear if someone finds out you enjoy it, their opinion of you will drop somewhere between the status of rapist and child molester.

Now that nu metal is over, critics and historians want to asses it and put it in a historical and musical context.  Given that nu metal prominently features elements of hip-hop and metal, lazy so-called pop-culture experts on TV (read: minor celebrity jackasses on VH1) want to say that Anthrax’s novelty goof-off session “I’m the Man”  and their subsequent crossover with Public Enemy on their remake of “Bring the Noise”  is ground zero.  Of course, Scott Ian likes to play into this bogus assessment in TV metal documentaries with a bit of hipster distance, acting as though he created a sub-genre by accident and is now pretending to apologize while winking at us.

What’s annoying is that none of these geniuses seem to remember that Faith No More existed.  All Anthrax did was play their (excellent) brand of thrash metal on “Bring the Noise” while Public Enemy spit rhymes over it, which is great, except it sounds nothing like the bands we’re talking about.  Faith No More, however, does, and they were combining metal and hip-hop well before Anthrax.  Songs like “We Care a Lot” and “Chinese Arithmetic” seem more like the embryos for nu metal, and Billy Gould‘s bass line from “Falling to Pieces” is practically the foundation for every Korn song ever written.  Move on to songs like “Everything’s Ruined” and “Midlife Crisis”, and I rest my case.

Speaking of Korn, in an interview Chuck Klosterman conducted with Fieldy Arvizu, Fieldy outright stated that their band actively ignored the history of rock n’ roll, and that as far as their concerned, the earliest bands to influence anything they played were The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More.  The influence of RHCP is apparent on nu metal bands, especially in their style of stage performance.  Nu metal bands took the crazed live energy of RHCP, but removed the good-natured over-sexed element and replaced it with straight-up anger.  But musically, Faith No More’s place in the genre was firm, whereas the Chilis pinballed from Gang of Four-style punk rock to P-funk before they found their sound on Mother’s Milk.  That’s not to say that Faith No More weren’t prone to experimentation (any band with Mike Patton is going to be), but metal was the big house they played in.

Faith No More was a band that was pretty well hated by critics during their day, but are now considered to have been ahead of their time.  I think it’s fair to say that their first four albums form the seed of the sound that, for better or worse, came to define the popular metal music of the late nineties, which took hold a few years after Faith No More called it quits.  I know I’m not the first person to make this observation, but given that whenever nu metal is brought up on TV, they say Anthrax started it all, and it makes me wonder if these talking heads have ears.