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And Justice For Art Presents: Look-Alike Metal Album Covers Part 2

Photo of Hatebreed

Band Photo: Hatebreed (?)

Through the history of popular music, many album covers have paid homage to the iconic War World II photograph, "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima." This still features a group of United States Navy men raising a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi in Iwo Jima. The original, taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal in 1945, won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize and even inspired the equally iconic Marine Corps War Memorial monument located at Arlington, Virginia.

Two of the most recognizable cover album homages came out in 1986, barely months apart from each other. One was the sleeve for Savatage's third full-length, "Fight for the Rock" and the other belonged to Status Quo's "In the Army Now."

Savatage Vs. Status Quo

There are many factors that indicate that the conceptual similarities between both artworks were just coincidental. Ripping off each other or the original photo wasn't the point here. First, there was a short time frame between both albums' release dates—Savatage's in June; Satus Quo's in August. Probably, by the time "Fight for the Rock" came out, the cover for "In the Army Now" was already completed and heading into production and promotion. After all, let's remember that albums take a long time to put together from writing, production, to graphic design, marketing to release.

On top of that, the origins of both arts cannot be more different: Heavy metallers, Savatage, ordered their image (featuring the members of the band raising an American flag) apparently as a direct consequence of not including band photos in their previous albums' layouts. Their label (Atlantic) was demanding a portrait so instead of just simply posing like any other band, they opted for re-recreating the famous Iwo Jima still.

In the case of rockers, Status Quo, designer Mark Wilkinson (Judas Priest, Europe) remembers that the cover concept for his hand painted image (featuring fans and a British flag) "was suggested to me by singer/guitarist Rick Parfitt,—to reflect their 'denim army', the fans who followed them."

There's also clear that both artworks had a clear point of reference: an historical photograph already well-known. It's thematic and iconic quality made it an easy target especially with album titles directly evoking war or army-related topics. In fact, before these bands, sleeves for albums like The Electric Flag's "The Band Kept Playing" (1974) and Uriah Heep's "Conquest" (1980) among others, were also inspired by the same source.

Such coincidence only demonstrates that it's perfectly Ok to take direct inspiration from other sources as far as you create something enough distinctive and refreshing to the eye and viewer's intellect. If done well, homages can become a perfect example of post modern art.

Most importantly: if your a band or a designer, never go out proclaiming that the original idea for an artwork was yours if you took as reference an existing image. Don;t be afraid to give credit to others. Embrace it. If not, sooner or later, someone will notice it. That's guaranteed.

Hatebreed Vs. Leaving Eden

There are times when two images share an extremely similar concept. However, they also look extremely different. That's the case with the artworks for Hatebreed's "The Divinity Of Purpose" and Leaving Eden's "Welcome To My World."

Both images propose a human entity at its center. In opposite corners, there's a demon and an angel fighting for supremacy— trying to rule over the apparently helpless figure. Such vision could easily represent the duality of the human psyche, always struggling in order to find spiritual and existential balance. "These elements and the battle between God and the Devil over human souls is a recurring theme in most religions and even in modern culture," says renowned Berlin-based illustrator, Eliran Kantor, who created "The Divinity Of Purpose" artwork in 2013. "How many times have you seen the 'advising devil and angel on my shoulders' scene redone on TV and films? Those who are doing that bit probably have no idea who initially came up with it."

Kantor acknowledges that the concept for his artwork was provided by Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta. "I don't know much about where the inspiration came from," he assures. Apparently, the frontman of the popular hardcore/groove Metal band could have been taking references from other visual or literary works or even—why not—from his own imagination.

A year and a half later (2014) Massachusetts-based Hard Rock/Metal collective, Leaving Eden, unveiled an artwork with a similar thematic courtesy of Guatemalan artist Mario Lopez. He assures not having seen the Hatebreed's cover and that the concept for his illustration "was suggested by the band. The image was inspired by the lyrics of the album. Since they're called Leaving Eden, the thematic of their covers has always been related to the topic of Eden, and having Eve (the first woman) as main character."

Everything seems to make sense so far. However, the two distinctive visual approaches are the elements that really make a noticeable difference. Kantor's composition feels chaotic and rapturous which is accentuated by the nervous-yet-elegant brushing so characteristic of him and reminiscent of classic painting styles. In contrast, Mario's composition is cleaner, less busy and rich on well-defined lines. Instead of disarray, it proposes a very discernible action and an epic feel typical of mid-80s illustrations and comic-like sensibilities.

"A winged angel on the top left and a fiery, red, horned devil on the bottom right, both pulling on a naked human figure. Sounds similar on paper but of course the execution is different. I'd bet it was just a coincidence," affirms Kantor, erasing all doubts about possible copycat.

"I think this theme, the conflict between good and evil, always has been very attractive to musicians, painters, writers, etc," Lopez adds. His final remarks seems to reveal an universal truth that is widely known: "Every day you have to be taking decisions every moment, if you do the good or the bad, the right or the wrong. I think this theme is used many times because represents everyday life, you know..."

If you missed it, you can also read the first edition of Look-Alike Album Covers - featuring Dissection/Grave Digger and Earth, Wind & Fire/Iron Maiden - at this location.

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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