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And Justice For Art Presents: A Look To Testament/Eliran Kantor Album Covers

Photo of Testament

Band Photo: Testament (?)

According to Testament's legendary frontman, Chuck Billy, working with artist, Eliran Kantor, has been "so easy because he sees our vision right away." The best proof of that lies in the many projects the American Thrash lords have commissioned to the talented Berlin-based visionary—including three album covers, stage backdrops, tour merchandise and more.

"We hope to have a continued relationship with him for years to come,” said Billy a few years back, while interviewed for the book And Justice For Art: Stories About Heavy Metal Album Covers. Their professional relationship has been recently renewed by the unveiling of a new artwork. We're referring to the cover for the band's eagerly-awaited new album, "Brotherhood Of The Snake." The cryptic-yet-epic quality of this imposing illustration has definitely cemented the creative synergy between them. Let's take a look to the Testament/Kantor album cover trilogy and find out what the illustrator has to say about his own arresting images.

This unforgettable apocalyptic scene features religious and political symbolism (the angels, the capitol). “It was all [guitarist] Eric Peterson’s concept from start to finish, including the way the composition is arranged with the trumpet-playing angels," Kantor admits. "I didn’t ask a lot of questions back then, as it looked perfect right from the initial pencil sketch he gave me on our first ever email conversation. My main conceptual contributions were my objection of using one of the working titles, "The Evil Has Landed" and insisting on using the old 3D logo instead of the flat one that Testament has been using for quite a few records.”

Four years after the highly acclaimed "The Formation Of Damnation," Testament returned with another Thrash Metal masterclass. Dark Roots Of Earth’s cover sleeve, somehow continues the apocalyptic feel of the previous cover but with a more mystical, nature-oriented tone. It depicts a gathering between a group of worshipers, the spiritual world and the forces of nature.

Regarding the genesis of the cover concept, Kantor remembers: "I think Eric Peterson was in England demoing riffs at [producer] Andy Sneap's house and came across a figure of the forest god Cernunnos at a local market. He then texted me the forest god's name and the album title as a general starting point. It was a collaborative effort..."

"It's exciting and rewarding for sure," says the artist. "Arguing with someone you used to do air guitar to, feels a bit surreal at first, especially at age of 18 which was when I started doing this. In Testament's case I've been a fan since high-school actually, I don't think I told them but back then I actually stood in line once to get their autographs at a festival. I think the collaboration benefits from this sincere love for the music."

This is the third consecutive album cover collaboration between the Californian Thrashers and Kantor. By now, the artist also has in his portfolio artworks for other Metal heavyweights like Hatebreed, Soulfly, Iced Earth, etc.

Regarding the cover concept Kantor comments: "Eric Peterson told me of the title, referring to a secret society group—and I wanted to focus on the occult aspect of it without leaning on the already available myths. I pictured a ritual involving blindfolded figures coming out of chalices of black oil, holding scythes forming the teeth of a 3-headed snake."

Going deeper the Israeli-born artist explains: "Looking for ways to incorporate the masonic pyramid felt like a great opportunity to use the classic Testament logo while adding something new to it, and also give it an active part in the plot. There are many tiny details adding to the atmosphere: red tongue bookmarks in the books, two more ancient-looking figures in the shadows hinting at the brotherhood's lineage, two serpent-shaped fountain tubes pouring the black oil, etc. The latter two were suggested by the band."

"Brotherhood Of The Snake" will be released later this year via Nuclear Blast.

Other imagery Eliran Kantor has produced for Testament.

The new Revised Edition of the book And Justice For Art: Stories About Heavy Metal Album Covers includes a chapter detailing most of Testament/Eliran Kantor collaborations. Both Chuck Billy and Kantor make special appearances in it. The book also features stories, interviews and exclusive graphics related with the making of many iconic Metal albums covers, including other Thrash's masterpieces like Slayer's "Reign In Blood," Anthrax's "Among The Living," Metallica's "...And Justice For All," among many others. Find out more and get a copy here.

Oscuro's avatar

Ramon Martos Garcia proudly writes for Metal Underground.com, PureGrainAudio.com and other metal/rock related websites. He's the owner of an indie record label and runs a site about Metal album covers, And Justice for Art.

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1 Comment on "And Justice For Art:Testament/Kantor Album Covers"

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Anonymous Reader
1. I'm not Jesus Christ writes:

"The Formation of Damnation" and "Dark Roots of Earth" are badass albums. I can't wait to hear the new one.

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