Metal Mix cover
I spent all of my teenage years listening and obsessing over metal. Then with the arrival of ‘Grunge’, I shamefully denounced the hair spray genre, swapping my denim jacket & cowboy boots for flannel shorts and Doc Martins. Then a few years later retired my flannel shirts for the indie/alternative music scene.

But in the last few years I’ve been rediscovering the music of my teenage years and also how kickass the album covers were. It took me a while to whittle down my list to my favourite top 10. I’m sure I’ll come across a few later and wish I included them, but for now this is my definitive list in no particular order.

Warlock_triumph
Warlock – Triumph & Agony
- Awesome painted cover: check.
- Chrome logo: check.
- Foxy blonde woman in leather being fondled by a demon: check.

Vinyl was king in the 80′s and hard core audiophile metal fans still prefer this format. The beauty of the large dimensions of vinyl covers is you can appreciate the detail and work put into painted artworks like this cover. This would look great on the side of a panel van.

Motorhead_Bomber
Motorhead – The Bomber
This cover appeals to the plane spotter in me. Apparently there was a slight uproar that an English band would choose a German bomber, a Heinkel 111, over the English Lancaster bomber. Lead singer & bassists defended this decision: “Sure, it’s a filthy memory – but the fact is the bad guys make the best shit.” The scale of the band member to the aircraft is all wrong but I think it adds a comical air to the setting.

cult_electric

The Cult – Electric
The photo of the band is the only weak part of this cover and feels like a last minute add in. Sorry Ian Astbury, I’m sure that is your best raccoon hat.

But metal bands have the best logos, and creative use of typography and i think this cover is a great example of that. Metal band logo designs always seem to embody the nature of the group it is representing.
hysteria

Def Leppard – Hysteria
This cover design is actually pretty cheesy and a good indicator of late 80′s graphix and that’s why i like it. The album is called ‘Hysteria’ so lets have a badly painted morphing of faces screaming. Overlay it on the plans to the Death Star from Star Wars IV and have a paint splattered album title, job done.

Judas_steel
Judas Priest – British Steel
I’ve never understood the appeal of ‘The Priest’ but I’ve wanted to like them based on my fondness for some of their covers, which include Screaming for Vengeance & Turbo Lover. British Steel is my favourite.
This cover couldn’t be any more metal. A leather studded arm firmly gripping an oversized razor blade, all set on a “how more black could this be? and the answer is none – none more black” background. And their logo is just kick ass.

kiss_rock_n_roll
Kiss – Rock and Roll Over
I remember flicking through my friend’s extensive Kiss album collection for the first time and coming across this cover. It stood out in stark contrast to the direction of their other covers, and even other fellow metal groups cover designs at the time (1976). It feels like more of a designed cover then some artistic piece with it’s symmetry and very poppy japanese influence.

poison_open
Poison – Open Up and Say.. ahh!
For me, this is the quintessential 80′s Hair Metal album cover. Day-glow colours, a Gene Simmons inspired tongue, big hair and a ridiculously unsubtle and misogynistic album title.

Aerosmith – Permanent Vacation
Aerosmith_Permanent_Vacation
I love this for the great Sailor Jerry Tattoo inspired illustrations and the way they are placed in a repetitive wallpaper pattern. The red illustrations on black also balance really well with the yellow Aerosmith logo.

maiden_somewhere
Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time
It would be sacrilegious to not have a Maiden cover in this list. They’ve had some great covers but I guess this one stands out for me due to the fact it reminds me of Blade Runner. It came out around the time I started getting interested in metal, making this the first Maiden cover I came across. It also features one of my favourite incarnations of Eddie.
VH_fair_warning

Van Halen – Fair Warning
This cover

I’ve loved Van Halen from the day I first listened to Van Halen 1. They’ve had a few interesting album covers after their first two releases, with Fair Warning being the standout for me. This cover is a little disturbing, which is fitting for what was hailed as Van Halen’s darkest album. But it wasn’t until I researched this cover that I discovered the complete painting “The Maze” created by the Canadian artist William Kurelek. The painting is a depiction of the artist’s  tortured youth and makes for a very bold and interesting choice for a so-called “hair band”. Then again, as fans of the band already know know, they were always so much more than that.

Top 10 Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Album Covers

Metal Mix cover
I spent all of my teenage years listening and obsessing over metal. Then with the arrival of ‘Grunge’, I shamefully denounced the hair spray genre, swapping my denim jacket & cowboy boots for flannel shorts and Doc Martins. Then a few years later retired my flannel shirts for the indie/alternative music scene.

But in the last few years I’ve been rediscovering the music of my teenage years and also how kickass the album covers were. It took me a while to whittle down my list to my favourite top 10. I’m sure I’ll come across a few later and wish I included them, but for now this is my definitive list in no particular order.

Warlock_triumph
Warlock – Triumph & Agony
- Awesome painted cover: check.
- Chrome logo: check.
- Foxy blonde woman in leather being fondled by a demon: check.

Vinyl was king in the 80′s and hard core audiophile metal fans still prefer this format. The beauty of the large dimensions of vinyl covers is you can appreciate the detail and work put into painted artworks like this cover. This would look great on the side of a panel van.

Motorhead_Bomber
Motorhead – The Bomber
This cover appeals to the plane spotter in me. Apparently there was a slight uproar that an English band would choose a German bomber, a Heinkel 111, over the English Lancaster bomber. Lead singer & bassists defended this decision: “Sure, it’s a filthy memory – but the fact is the bad guys make the best shit.” The scale of the band member to the aircraft is all wrong but I think it adds a comical air to the setting.

cult_electric

The Cult – Electric
The photo of the band is the only weak part of this cover and feels like a last minute add in. Sorry Ian Astbury, I’m sure that is your best raccoon hat.

But metal bands have the best logos, and creative use of typography and i think this cover is a great example of that. Metal band logo designs always seem to embody the nature of the group it is representing.
hysteria

Def Leppard – Hysteria
This cover design is actually pretty cheesy and a good indicator of late 80′s graphix and that’s why i like it. The album is called ‘Hysteria’ so lets have a badly painted morphing of faces screaming. Overlay it on the plans to the Death Star from Star Wars IV and have a paint splattered album title, job done.

Judas_steel
Judas Priest – British Steel
I’ve never understood the appeal of ‘The Priest’ but I’ve wanted to like them based on my fondness for some of their covers, which include Screaming for Vengeance & Turbo Lover. British Steel is my favourite.
This cover couldn’t be any more metal. A leather studded arm firmly gripping an oversized razor blade, all set on a “how more black could this be? and the answer is none – none more black” background. And their logo is just kick ass.

kiss_rock_n_roll
Kiss – Rock and Roll Over
I remember flicking through my friend’s extensive Kiss album collection for the first time and coming across this cover. It stood out in stark contrast to the direction of their other covers, and even other fellow metal groups cover designs at the time (1976). It feels like more of a designed cover then some artistic piece with it’s symmetry and very poppy japanese influence.

poison_open
Poison – Open Up and Say.. ahh!
For me, this is the quintessential 80′s Hair Metal album cover. Day-glow colours, a Gene Simmons inspired tongue, big hair and a ridiculously unsubtle and misogynistic album title.

Aerosmith – Permanent Vacation
Aerosmith_Permanent_Vacation
I love this for the great Sailor Jerry Tattoo inspired illustrations and the way they are placed in a repetitive wallpaper pattern. The red illustrations on black also balance really well with the yellow Aerosmith logo.

maiden_somewhere
Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time
It would be sacrilegious to not have a Maiden cover in this list. They’ve had some great covers but I guess this one stands out for me due to the fact it reminds me of Blade Runner. It came out around the time I started getting interested in metal, making this the first Maiden cover I came across. It also features one of my favourite incarnations of Eddie.
VH_fair_warning

Van Halen – Fair Warning
This cover

I’ve loved Van Halen from the day I first listened to Van Halen 1. They’ve had a few interesting album covers after their first two releases, with Fair Warning being the standout for me. This cover is a little disturbing, which is fitting for what was hailed as Van Halen’s darkest album. But it wasn’t until I researched this cover that I discovered the complete painting “The Maze” created by the Canadian artist William Kurelek. The painting is a depiction of the artist’s  tortured youth and makes for a very bold and interesting choice for a so-called “hair band”. Then again, as fans of the band already know know, they were always so much more than that.





14 Comments

  1. Great list. You forgot to tell about all the hidden details in the Maiden cover… and I think you should take a look at Imaginations from the other side by Blind Guardian. One of my all-time faves.

  2. Yeah you're right about the hidden details in the Maiden cover, i was just trying to keep it short & sweet. But it's great cover to get lost in.

    I'll check out the Blind Guardian cover.

  3. Be sure to download the whole unfolded cover. It's better if you have access to the original, but a full scan would be OK too.

    If you want, I can scan it and send it to you.

  4. What? No Ozzy “Diary of a Madman”? And The Scorpions “Blackout” is also a great one. No Ratt? I would have put a Ratt cover over Poison. The Judas Priest cover always freaked me out. I could never buy it cause I could never look at it. I guess I'm squemish about knives and such.

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  6. Very nice collection…..great imagery and comments on each. Well done. Rock On!

  7. How abbout the Boston – Self Titled album. I used to stare at that one in awe. guitar shaped spaceships….what a concept!!!

  8. that aerosmith cover… reminds me of being a kid. that was somewhere in the 30 CD's i ever bought. hadn't seen that cover in awhile but it brings back memories!

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  9. great, an album cover with a plane on it. check this out: http://www.flugzeuge-auf-dem-cover.de

  10. great, an album cover with a plane on it. check this out: http://www.flugzeuge-auf-dem-cover.de

  11. omg mastodon?????

  12. Nice collection…everyone has thier own personal favs…so to each his own….I am sure that after you did this you had sudden thoughts about….what about this group or that group…a top ten collection is always changing and evolving.

  13. I agree with meh, where is mastodon? specially Hunter (i know is too new for this article but any other). By the way that warlock cover is awful… I would prefer to include some slayer’s.

  14. to give you some fresh info…the blonde gal on the Warlock cover is Doro Pesch …she has a lot of good music of her own…check her out

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