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And Justice For Art Presents: Classic Paintings Become Metal Album Covers - Part 1

Master painters Hieronymus Bosch, John Martin and Jean Delville all have something in common with Metal music: some of their works have become iconic album covers for bands like Morbid Angel, Candlemass and While Heaven Wept, among many others.

Metal Underground and the online art community And Justice For Art present this peculiar collection of albums that mix classic visual imagery with heavy sounds. Check it out and let us know what you think.

MORBID ANGEL's "Blessed Are The Sick"

For their glorious second album, the Floridian Death Metal blasphemers, Morbid Angel, selected an humongous canvas titled "Satan's Treasures." This image, created in 1895 by Belgian painter/philosopher, Jean DelVille, depicts Satan as a beautiful, elongated male figure glamorising a group of human bodies in complete ecstasy.

As a curious note, the Swedish metallers Hexenhaus also used the image as the cover for their album "A Tribute To Insanity" but never reached the notoriety of Morbid Angel's "Blessed Are The Sick." The original piece is owned by the Royal Museums of Fine Art, in Brussels.

In the new book And Justice For Art: Stories About Heavy Metal Album Covers , Morbid Angel's frontman, David Vincent, recounts his memories about selecting this painting as the album's cover. He also talks about the making of the front artworks for the band's iconic albums "Covenant," and "Altars Of Madness."

CELTIC FROST's "Into The Pandemonium"

Given its rich level of detail, Hieronymus Bosch's immortal 1504 triptych, "The Garden of Earthly Delights," have been used more than once on albums of different nature. However, the mighty Celtic Frost has probably been the only band that have used the painting to create a real sense of dread, anxiety and utter perdition.

For the cover of their essential third album "Into The Pandemonium," the menacing Swiss collective selected a detail from the painting's right panel (usually, nicknamed Hell). If you look at it while listening the the music, it will be impossible not to feel crushed by the devastating effect of such lethal visual/sonic combination.

The original painting is part of the Museo Del Prado's (Madrid) permanent collection.

CANDLEMASS' "Nightfall"

The second full length recording by Swedish Doom metal, heroes, Candlemass, came accompanied by a front cover art courtesy of XIX century artist, Thomas Cole. Its title was "Old Age". The British/American artist produced this evocative fresco in 1842 as part of a series of paintings titled "The Voyage Of Life." The paintings depict the voyage of a man at different stages of life, traveling in a boat while accompanied by a guardian angel. This series is also considered as a sort of Christian allegory.

The original "Old Age" painting is at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

WHILE HEAVEN WEPT's "Vas Ocean Lachrymose."

In their early days, American Prog Metal mavericks, While Heaven Wept, used old paintings by artists like Gustav Dore and Ondilon Redon as covers for some of their recordings.
The artwork for their third full album, "Vast Oceans Lachrymose" wasn't the exception. The chosen image was a a creation by XIX century British visionary, John Martin.

Titled "Christ Stilleth The Tempest" the oil on paper board epic painting depicts the Bible's passage where Jesus and his disciples navigate in the middle of an apocalyptic torment. To create a more dramatic effect, While Heaven Wept decided to omit Christ in the version they include in the album.

Do you want to know why the band did this? The answer to that and their fixation with using old paintings as album covers is revealed by guitarist Tom Phillips in the new book "And Justice For Art: Stories about Heavy Metal Album Covers" which can be pre-ordered here.

EMPEROR's "Emperor"

The debut EP by the Norwegian black metal conquerors, Emperor used as a cover artwork a fragment of "Death on a Pale Horse (Revelation)" by Gustave Doré. This was part of a series of wood engravings done by the famous French artist in the XIX century. It was partly based on the book of Revelations from the Bible.

Curiously, the band also incorporated such motif to the cover of their iconic debut "In The Nightside Eclipse." That particular rendition was done by well-known Swedish artist, Kristian Whalin.

These are only five of many more examples to come in future articles. In the meantime, if you want to know more about the origin of some of the most iconic album covers in Metal history, feel free to check out and pre-order a copy of the book And Justice For Art: Stories About Heavy Metal Album Covers This limited edition, 264-pages book, features more than 400 pristine looking graphics and album covers plus 100 interviews with many acclaimed bands and visual artists. Definitely, fans of visual arts and Metal should check it out.

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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3 Comments on "Classic Paintings Become Metal Album Covers"

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Anonymous Reader
1. Skinny writes:

Celtic Frost is nota swedish band. They're from Switzerland.

# Apr 14, 2015 @ 7:15 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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2. Jigenuck writes:

can't wait to get my copy!!

# Apr 15, 2015 @ 6:03 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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3. Jaydog writes:

It doesn't say anything about Celtic Frost being Swedish. Actually refers to them as "the menacing Swiss collective." Anyhow,this book will be a great addition to my collection.

# Apr 16, 2015 @ 10:06 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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