Morbid Visions (Book review)
Released: 2016, Doomentia
The market for larger, high-end coffee-table books continues to grow at a remarkable pace. There are many of these types of books for the ‘Classic Rock’ / Hard Rock / Early Metal fans such as books about Dio, Deep Purple, Whitesnake and more many of them priced at hundreds of dollars, targeted to the middle-aged, perhaps financially established rock market. However, as Metal continues to grow and thrive across the globe, there are more and more books aimed at an aging population of extreme Metal fans. Many fans, like myself who grew up in the early 80’s were around for the creation of the first wave of Thrash Metal, Death Metal and Black Metal. Now in our 40’s and even 50’s, I’m assuming many of us in that demographic can afford to buy these cool coffee table books celebrating the art that helped attract us to those genres.
Mark Riddick’s third book, MORBID VISIONS does just that…appeals to a sense of nostalgia and celebrates dark art but unlike some of those other books, at an affordable price! It might seem odd to a casual by-stander (ie non-Metal fan) who might be browsing through your bookshelf one day, might question why someone would have a 400+ page book loaded with morbid visions but for fans who grew up enjoying Cannibal Corpse album covers, this is quite normal to want a cool collection of one of the pre-eminent Death Metal artists.
Riddick starting drawing in school and found he had an affinity for it right away. As described by his twin brother, Mark, in the introduction his bemused parents supported his art and now years later, married and domesticated Riddick is considered one of the best Death Metal themed artists out there, with his art appearing on literally hundreds of album covers and/or products of for dozens and dozens of bands. The list of artists who have commissioned him is to long to reprint here, but when you order the book they bands are listed in an Appendix.
The book itself, published by Doomentia, is very attractive, blacker than black, a hard-cover and over 400 pages long. MORBID VISIONS is his second collected work and covers his art that he has created from 2012 to 2016. He includes sketches, some paintings, his borders or illustrated frames, (which are really cool) and a big section of dozens and dozens of band logos that he created. As a side note, the other book I mentioned that Riddick has been a part of is the book LOGOS FROM HELL. The main section contains a ton of drawings in his preferred medium; ink. There are hundreds of drawings, ranging from slightly creepy and gothic, to fun and familiar (such as Ash from Evil Dead) to the morbidly grotesque. Demons, devil’s, serpents, skeletons, zombies, skulls, graveyards, and no shortage of unclad or semi-clad female victims, all speak to the fine traditions and archetypes of Death Metal cover art. These are not your classic monster Movie type images of a tame, Boris Karloff inspired Frankenstein or Dracula, from long-ago… No, these are far more modern in style from someone who probably grew up watching The Living Dead Trilogy or the aforementioned Evil Dead series. I suppose it goes without saying, this is not a child-friendly book! The detail in his creativity incredible and you can see how his style has evolved and morphed while retaining his unique and recognizable style.
If you are a Death Metal fans you have probably admired Riddick’s art without even realizing it. With this book Riddick has joined a select few other extreme artists who have published collection works such as Benscoter, Hrubovcak, Verwimp and Locke. MORBID VISIONS is indeed a fine collection of the darkest of Metal artworks.