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.
Torment "Bestial Sex"
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.
Vänlade "Iron Age"
Kansas City power metal five-piece Vanlade showed how metal they wae on their 2012 debut album Iron Age with this image of the ultimate metal warrior. The buff romance novel model steps out of the ocean and hoists a Flying V guitar in the air with a muscular bicep while roaring like a powerful lion. Only the soldier torn grey jeans are wet, which maybe explains why he’s clutching hismself with his other hand. But metal warriors can’t fight with guitars alone, and since this metal Aquaman seems to have forgotten his sword, a sexy bare-breasted mermaid hands it to him. Too bad he's far too consumed with looking totally metal to notice.
Raven "The Pack Is Back"
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.