Archive for the CD Art Review Category

Typography in album cover design 2009

Posted in CD Art Review with tags , , , , , on January 6, 2010 by Bandmill

Interesting picks where there is only text elements used

Funniest/WTF? – Album covers 2009

Posted in CD Art Review with tags , , , , on January 6, 2010 by Bandmill

What have they been thinking of…

Bubblin Under – cover art from 2009

Posted in CD Art Review with tags , , , , , , on January 6, 2010 by Bandmill

Here are the album covers bubblin under top 10 list:

Best metal/hard rock album covers 2009

Posted in CD Art Review with tags , , , , , , , on January 6, 2010 by Bandmill

Hello and happy new year 2010!

Here goes my first post judging album covers from 2009. This is not supposed to be top albums – it´s just covers. Some of these bands I´ve never even heard of but as we all music lovers know sometimes you pick up an album by it´s cover. Sometimes you don´t buy it – because of it´s cover. Dont you?

I´ve browsed through hundreds of releases from last year and ranked them with following categories:

  1. Top 10 – The best of the best albums
  2. Bubblin Under – Some really good looking covers almost in top 10
  3. Funniest/WTF? – What have they been thinking…
  4. Typography – Interesting picks where there is only text elements used

So here we go, you don´t have to agree with me as we know all these “top 10-something” lists usually get people frustrated.

TOP 10

CD ART REVIEW: Turbonegro – Retox

Posted in CD Art Review on December 5, 2009 by Bandmill

Turbonegro – Retox

(digipack)

Colour: Grayscale
Booklet: 12 pages, varnished
Typography: Egyptienne and hand written
Pictures: Grayscale photos and illustrations
Bonus material: Picture of a band and an ad
Designers: Matias Faldbakken & Gardar Eide Einardsson

This Norwegian sailing team has generally done some really admiring cd covers. For example their reunion album Scandinavian Leather was a great example of simple and visually pleasing solution. Firs part of the trilogy – Apocalypse Dudes – was also a piece of beautiful design and as a cream of the crap was the third part of the trilogy – Party Animals. It’s black and very corporative kind of design gives a radical message to today’s business world.

This time the cod fishers are doing things very differently. They are here with complete gray scale graphic experience in the name of Retox. Firstly, it gave me a little feeling of getting sick…

When you look at the graphics, pictures and the typographic design it seems they are designed in a real hurry without caring about the result at all. Maybe that is the case at some level but listening the album and reading the lyrics makes you to understand this concept much better.

Graphics as simple and “aboriginal” like this is actually a bold thing to do for a band who has just reached a status of mega band. It makes the previous album Party Animals to look like weird and extravagant with its corporative and very professional look. This time the band goes like ten years back to look and feel more original and honest. Retox is having the guts to look like themselves more than ever. At this point you need to compare the graphics to the music itself, which sounds more aggressive, pure and brutal than couple of previous albums. To that purpose, this graphical style fits just perfectly.

On the cover you can see a guy from behind staring at Hank von Helvete´s big eyes. I believe it could be a metaphor to the movie scene where King Kong is checking out the good looking blonde gal. Cover looks good but personally I’d like too see it with colours. On the other hand this cover sticks in your mind you will remember it when visiting the music store.

The booklet is very traditional consisting of the lyrics and picture material of the “retoxic” theme. Some of the pictures are hand illustrated and part of them are scanned from different sources – you can even spot Ronald Reagan from the pages. Some pictures are basic pictures of the band posing in different situations. I believe the most impressing picture is where band’s bass player Happy Tom is lightning a cigarette for the singer Hank von Helvete. Hank is looking at the camera with very suspicious look on his face while lifting his pants up. Picture is included to the page where are the lyrics for the song “Everybody loves a chubby dude”. It fits there like a fist in a bowl of jello.

On the other hand many pictures are blocking the lyrics and makes them really hard to read, which is a real shame. Readability should be a priority number 1 even though you are doing graphical expression like this.

All and all the whole package is a bit of a mess which opens up to the viewer much better after you’ve heard and understood all the songs. This is different but so is the band itself so I must say the designers have done a decent job.

GOOD:

+ Very brave thing to do
+ Graphics fits to the music perfectly
+ Some of the pictures are really awesome

BAD:

– Typography is messy at some parts
– Concept is hard to understand
– Looks too cheap

School grade: 3/5

CD ART REVIEW: GRAVE DIGGER – THE LAST SUPPER (Digipack), 2005

Posted in CD Art Review on December 5, 2009 by Bandmill

(Digipack), 2005

Grave Digger – The Last Supper

(digipack)

Colour: 4-colour
Booklet: 12 pages, matte paper, page 1 glued to the packet
Typography: Gothic typing
Pictures: 4-colour illustrations + one band photograph
Bonus material: none
Designers: Gyula Havancsak (Cover and booklet artwork), Stefan Malzkorn (Photos)

Grave Digger´s 13th sutdio album follows the story of Jesus Christ himself and his last days before crucifixion. I´ve always enjoyed this band eventhough most of their material is a bit average stuff. But the jewels every now and then are so good you just got to like this German band who started their career in 1980.

Since I bought ”The Last Supper” I´ve been wanting to write down some good thoughts about the artwork of this album. Beside the design, I also enjoy many of the songs such as the title track ”The Last Supper”, ”Grave in the No Man´s Land” and the best song on this album ”Crucified”. Intro song ”Passion” is also very enjoyable. It guides you perfectly to the album and reflects the artwork.

Booklet and artwork designer is the famous Gyula Havancsak who has done amazing designs to artists such as Annihilator, Destruction, Nightingale, Demonoid and Tankard. The list goes on. With this album Gyula doesn´t fail you. Beautiful pix throughout the booklet is beautiful to watch and view. Catching the spirit of Christ´s last days is not easy task to do. You need to make it beautiful and agonizing at the same time. Challenging.

Grave Digger is famous of using the hangman in their covers and the reaper himself fits pretty well in this also. Haunting, waiting and watching Jesus. Gyula has captured the reaper well into the imaginary.

One of my favourite pictures here are the centerfold pic with Jesus already hanging and two different moons shining in the night. The other one I like is on the second page where you can see maggots crawling from piece of bread. I say excellent!

Details are always important and you can find very different details from all the illustrations here. I´d like to have some of the pics hanging in my wall with huge size. I could probably stare at them many hours. Well, except for the maggots…

Paper choice in this booklet is matte and it is perfect. You can´t get the same feeling with concept like this on glossy paper. Although techically there is one minor problem and it is the text readability. Matte paper sucks the print colour so much and you need to have a bit bigger typesize. Some of the text in this booklet is pretty hard to read because of that and also because of the typeface. It is very beautiful and excellent choice but sometimes hard to read.


All and all there isn´t much to complain about this. Good cd design is not just the cover. It is the whole package whatever it includes (cd disc, paper wrappings, stickers, back cover…). It needs to work as a whole. This one does, big time!

GOOD:

+ Perfect illustration
+ Matte paper
+ Feeling

BAD:- Text is hard to read at some point

– Glued booklet

School grade: 5/5