Released: 2011, Loft Publications
I don’t know why but there is a something about a huge, coffee-table book that I like. Maybe the heaviness of a hard-cover book about Heavy Metal, printed on thick glossy paper appeals to me more than thumbing through a paperback printed on crappy paper that you can stick in your back pocket. METAL AND HARDCORE GRPAHICS is a killer-monster book. I actually weighed this 550+ page book on the scale. It weighs 3 kilos (that’s almost 6.66 lbs for our Yankee brothers), making it one of the biggest, heaviest Metal books around. I know it is not a contest, but my point being, it’s still pretty cool to have one of the heaviest books of Heavy Metal!
Christian Campos is a publishing Editor and journalist from Barcelona, Spain (as compared to Barcelona, Ohio) who has edited and designed a truly magnificent work. The title is self-explanatory, and the sub-title is even more revealing ‘Extreme Artworks From The Underworld’. Published in 2011, this coffee-table book of Metal art and design is getting hard to find and to he best of my knowledge was never distributed in North America either. The book is more than just pictures of album covers. There are several components to this collection of art. There are lots of different designs, posters/flyers, T-shirts, photography and a really large section on logos, which is one of my favourite parts.
The images range from beautiful, to ugly, to striking, to surreal to puzzling and back again. The images reproduced are in a large enough scale to really take your time and see the detail. It will take you hours to even scratch the surface of all the various images, and styles. It’s almost overwhelming and METAL AND HARDCORE GRPAHICS is pretty dark tome, truth be told. This book is certainly NOT for children as there are many, dark, horrific images so don’t leave it lying around for the kids to see all the fire, blood and skulls, hallmarks of any good Metal album cover! This is truly a celebration of dark imagery and young cutting edge artists pushing the social boundaries and presenting modern creativity. Some of the bigger name artists, among the dozens and dozens of artists represented, are Ed Repka, Kris Verwimp, Mark Riddick, and Mick Usher. Campos keeps it mostly Metal but there is a smattering of punk and even a bit of non-Metal, but that can be forgiven.
A bonus feature are the interviews with a number of artists, and to add to the cosmopolitan feel to the book, the interviews are reproduced in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Italian. The artists interviewed are Benjamin Vierling (Nightbringer, Weapon), Mario Bender, Jobert Mello (Sabaton, Primal Fear), Orion Landau (Revocation, Obscura), Seldon Hunt (Isis, Pelican), Justin Kamerer (High On Fire, Lamb of God), Raymond Ahner (photographer), Matthias Gephart (photographer), Santos (Kylesa, Torche), and Jerome Cros (Rotting Christ, Destroyer 666). Campos asks the same questions to each author and the range of answers is quite interesting; some serious, some fun.
METAL AND HARDCORE GRAPHICS has a very contemporary (almost trendy feel) to it as many, many classic, legendary Metal artists are not included. I say not included rather than ‘excluded’ because in his introduction FAQ, Campos addresses the fact that this book was to be looking forward and the current state of the art and therefore did not include the great artists of the 70’s and 80’s. He says, “Think of this as a laboratory of experiment, rather than a museum of antiques’’ (p. 6). In my mind that is extremely clever idea.and good theme for the collection. Although there is not the art of Storm Thorgerson (Helloween, Dream Theater), Derek Riggs (Iron Maiden, Gamma Ray), Hugh Syme (Megadeth, Fates Warning), Ken Kelly (Manowar, Kiss), Joe Patagno (Motohead) or Luis Royo (At Vance, Skylark) there are more than enough young, talented artists to showcase. Beside, as the sub-title says, ’From The Underworld’, and most of those guys have books already and are quite mainstream and recognized as Metal cover artists.
However, having said that I was a bit disappointed that the focus was on a lot of the trendy Metal bands right now. There was very little to no representation of some of the top Metal artists in the world right now…
Andreas Marshall from Germany (Rage, Running Wild, Blind Guardian, Hammerfall, Grave Digger),
Eric Philipe from Belgium (Iron Fire, Iron Mask, Mystic Prophecy),
Travis Smith from America (King Diamond, Nevermore, Overkill)
Felipe Franco from Columbia (Axel Rudi Pell, Iced Earth, Jorn)
Marc Klinnert from Australia (Rhapsody, Axel Rudi Pell)
JP Fournier from France (Avantasia, Dragonforce, Edguy)
All of the above artists could have, and maybe should have, been represented. I would much rather see their art rather than John Baizley (Baroness, Black Tusk) for example, who seems to think that images of naked, hippy-chicks with flowers in their hair, lounging around holding fish, are Metal. However (again) those aforementioned half-dozen work with the Power and Prog bands and this book tends to focus on Death, Grind, Thrash, Stoner and Black Metal, so it could just be the bias of the author not wanting to see too many bright and colourful dragons and unicorns! Also, he may not have been able to secure the rights to reproduce those works by Marshall and so on. It seems like Campos talked to some of the big, trendy Metal labels (Relapse, Earache, etc) and got rights to a lot of their stuff. Either way, it is still a fantastic work and Campos couldn’t possibly include everything and probably had to make some tough editorial choices.
There have been a couple of other album cover art books, but this one just blows them away. With over 2000 images this book has set the standard and is worth every penny if you can track it down. Any Metalhead should be proud to have this on their coffee table. Rumour has it a second edition, even bigger and better, is coming so add METAL AND HARDCORE GRAPHICS to your library it goes out of print!