As the old saying goes, don't judge a metal album by it's cover. When it comes to cover art, bands strive to present the coolest looking artwork they can afford. Some bands are able to make a memorable cover that will adorn T-shirts and back patches forever. Others, not so much. Of course, all cover art varies depending on the style of the music; a Ratt album covers looks far different than those of Cannibal Corpse. Regardless of the genre, no band is immune to bad cover art. From obscure acts to metal legends such as Black Sabbath and Anthrax, they have all released some real stinkers. Here are some of the most ridiculous album covers in metal history.
These ‘80s thrashers had no intention of using subtle metaphors to suggest perverse sex acts. They also didn’t seem to have much money to get their point across. The gonzo photoshoot yielded an image of a wasted German metalhead in a tattered outfit standing behind a cow with his left hand placed tenderly on her rear flank. In keeping with their lurid aesthetic, the band followed up their Bestial Sex EP with the live album Sperm Over Germany and later released the EP Spermatized. Their last album Tomentizer dropped in 2009 and farm animals sighed in relief.
Raven were a cool New Wave of British Heavy Metal band before they signed to Atlantic Records and sacrificed their artistic integrity to a misguided art department for the 1986 album The Pack Is Back. Raven’s drummer Wacko was known for wearing a hockey mask onstage so someone in the art department felt it was a good idea to expand on that look --- sort of. They upgraded Wacko with a chest protector and space boots while the other band members wear random athletic gear but still wind up half-naked. And what better way to illustrate that the pack is back than by having them bursting out of school lockers?
On the surface, Riot's 1979 album Narita has all the elements of an iconoclastic metal cover; skulls, a mushroom cloud, an axe and a warplane. But Riot’s Narita definitely doesn’t look metal. The band’s ill-chosen, cute furry seal mascot zaps the metal out of the art. Posed like a Sumo wrestler in the middle of the frame, the mysterious seal man looks like he’s about to be decapitated by a wing of the plane. To emphasize the Japanese theme of the cover, there’s Japanese lettering after the album title name and an image of Mount Fuji in the background. All that from a band from New York City.
These glam metal morons pre-dated Steel Panther by at least 30 years but it doesn’t quite look like they’re spoofing the sexism of metal. On the cover of their 1985 album If There's A Party In Your Mouth...We're Comin', they appear like like a confused cross between Van Halen, Quiet Riot, and Poison. Still, they appear more than ready to party. They have streamers, tons of balloons but, oddly enough, no women. The only lipstick-lined mouths we see are on the four costume-impaired band members. Guess who’s gonna be home alone with a copy of Hustler after the photo shoot?