Skullfucker (Book Review)
Released: 2001, Mondo Bizarro Press
When I took a look at this collection of art by Wes Benscoter I could not get a quote out of my mind. It is an old lyric from a song called, ‘I Want You, tonight!’ by the band Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom from way back in 1990. The line goes, ‘You’ve got a sick mind. That’s a good sign! I like a wild imagination’. That pretty much applies to Mr. Benscoter. A sick mind and a wild imagination both apply to Benscoter. It’s pretty twisted…or is that pretty AND twisted? Either way, SKULLFUCKER is brilliant.
Released by Mondo Bizarro Press back in 2001, it was originally limited to 999 hand-numbered copies (mine is 977) so it is getting pretty hard to find. The soft cover book is only 74-pages long but what it lacks in length is made up for in quality. The book is a compilation of his art, 50 pictures to be exact. I really enjoy owning this collection because Benscoter was responsible for many of the great early 90’s Death Metal album covers. His work has adorned the covers of albums by Deceased, Embalmer, Mortician, (can you see a trend?) and many more, Vader, Sinister, Broken Hope, Slayer…the list goes on. It is nice to be able to see these reproductions on glossy paper on large scale, rather than squinting at my old cassettes.
In terms of content, this is not for kids! There are many, many explicit images of horror, violence, gore and sex…all the finer things in life are demonstrated here for those with an appreciation of dark art. Some of the images are very creative with tentacles spiraling, spines-splitting, eyeballs bulging and lots of hot, naked, demon chicks, and much more great gruesomeness. SKULLFUCKER also comes with a nice intro written by Peter Davis of Your Flesh magazine and includes a list of the plates with titles and sizes and medium used. It is certainly time for an updated version because he has been working for another dozen years or more since this was published.
I would have no hesitation of giving this a rating of 4 or higher however the book could have used maybe an interview with Benscoter, a biography and more information about which bands used which images on their albums. Falling back on our rating system I would not recommend this to everyone only because of the explicit sex and violence. Don’t misunderstand, I love the style the shock value and the darkness; it speaks to the fantastic imagery of Death Metal and is an integral part of the experience. However images of demons raping corpses may not be to everyone’s taste. I’d suggest that the ‘average’ Metal fan may not appreciate the book nearly as much as hardcore Death Metal fans for example and that’s why I might bump it down a notch. I know Metalheads aren’t prudes but SKULLFUCKER is a step above and beyond for example the Derek Riggs book with his images of a decomposing (but sanitized) Eddie or your standard collection of album covers. For Death Metal fans this gets a four and for non-Death Metal fans it gets a three so splitting the difference we arrive at a nice 3.5.