Hyperbole is one of the most important pillars supporting heavy metal. While other musicians might ask, 'is this too much?', the metal head will cry 'MORE! I NEED MORE!'. There is no room for ethics in the slaughter house.
The metal head is ultimately gluttonous and unashamed, drawing sword-wielding cocks on horseback, impaling its enemies on a battlefield deranged with shredded corpses. Heavy metal was created as an antidote to moderation, and it has served this purpose for forty long years. Heavy metal demands only two things: the cocaine and the stage. Everything else is filler.
Such senseless debauchery has been known to seep into all that lives outside the heavy metal membrane, however, and evidence of its absurdity is clearly seen in the artwork that it uses to market itself. Heavy metal knows no shame. If it even knew what "so bad it's good" implied, it would probably try to repeat the words with its own slobbering mouth, fail over and over again, then break a window in frustration and continue on its drunken tirade.
Artwork has always been of particular importance to the heavy metal band, and because most heavy metal bands are unhinged dope fiends, the artwork they employ is often crude, loopy, and ridiculous beyond all reason. If you aren't entirely convinced, let's have a looksie.
Attacker - Battle At Helms Deep (1985)
The musclebound hero of this image looks as though he's just realized what a huge mistake it was to enter the lair of the goblin wizard. He wasn't expecting security to come in the form of a giant green spider dragon. He's got a look on his face as if to say "What have I done?".
Betrayer F.T.M. - No Life TIll Fury (2010)
This would actually be considered really, really tame by death metal standards. I just love the fact that the band must have asked to be included in the artwork, eating steak and popcorn while the surgeon is strangled to death by an octobaby.
Skull Fist - Heavier Than Metal (2010)
This would be a fantastic idea for an Adult Swim cartoon.
Em Ruinas - ...from the Spped Metal Graves (2010)
I really hope this isn't supposed to be brooding and sullen. Due to the awful shading and contrast, it just looks like a flying torso grabbing a ball of lightning.
Annihilator - Refresh the Demon (1996)
Chris Farley as Satan.
Grave Digger - Tunes Of War (1996)
I've seen covers with skeletons playing flutes, guitars, keyboards, drums, but I've never seen on playing the bagpipes. Was the kilt really necessary as well?
Helloween - The Best, The Rest, The Rare (1991)
Helloween once again taking the pumpkin thing way too far...
Helloween - Pink Bubbles Go Ape (1991)
...and when they aren't, they're pulling shit like this. I have no idea what's supposed to be happening here, but I can't help but imagine some greasy teenager handing this record over the till and instantly stuttering up an explanation as to why it's not weird porn.
Cobra - Grito en el Abismo (2010)
This works on paper. The concept is tried and tested, but everything about it screams straight-to-DVD 00's action flick.
Living Death - Metal Revolution (1985)
Sofisticator - Camping The Vein (2012)
So, the boys from Sofisticator (Jesus Christ) are drinking "killer beer", eating a midget, fending off the living dead, and taking a moment to shred. Right on.
Cranium - Speed Metal Slaughter (1998)
This is a horrible way to attract women. It looks like Cranium and their chainsaw-wielding zombie cohort have invaded a disco and taken population control into their own hands.
Sabbat - Geionslaught 1986 (2006)
Sabbat are not known clothes wearers. Also, check out the guy at the bottom right corner. He knows.
Dr. Mastermind - Sin Sandwich (2005)
She appears to be rubbing lettuce, maybe celery, on her lady parts. She's also engulfed in flames. I don't know what she's getting out of this, but it looks like it's her thing.
Tokyo Blade - Mr. Ice (1998)
It's just fucking horrible. Fuck you, Tokyo Blade, for making me look at this.
Grim Reaper - Fear No Evil (1985)
The Grim Reaper has destroyed yet another priceless Picasso work with his motorcycle. What a cunt.
Rick James - Throwin' Down (1982)
This isn't even a metal record, but Rick James gets it.
Anvil - Plenty Of Power (2001)
I could have picked any Anvil cover art here, but this one is just particularly disturbing. The colours are actually offensive to the eyes.
Metalucifer - Heavy Metal Chainsaw (2001)
Probably my favourite of the lot. There's absolutely no need for it at all. He's definitely been drinking as well.
Agent Steel - Order Of The Illuminati (2003)
Martians getting in some practice before the charity run. I don't know who gave the green light to this cover, but I imagine they were really into the idea of it. The artist must have some kind of explanation for this.
Witch Cross - Fit For Fight (1984)
Nudity: check. Steel: check. Demonic bat monster: check. 'Witch' in the band name: check. Heavy metal standard.
Unicorn - The Legend Returns (1987)
You called your band Unicorn and you put a unicorn on your cover art. You fucking pansies.
Mass - Swiss Connection (1981)
A giant and probably autonomous guitar cracks through the side of a mountain and you just sort of stand there with your mouth agape. I'd fucking run. If guitars are anything like guitarists, it'll want to talk about itself.
Virgin Steele - Noble Savage (1985)
Let's get the skinniest guy ever to be our barbarian.
Bitches Sin - Invader (1986)
I don't know what's worse, the fact that they crossed Edvard Munch with aliens, or the fact that said 'invader' is actually being chased by Victorian weasel men.
Attila - Rolling Thunder (1986)
This is here for the same reason the last Anvil one is and then some. What is going on? Why is the rocket there? Why is so much happening at once? How do you get into this much trouble?
Piledriver - Metal Inquisition (1984)
He's using his guitar as a jack hammer to drill a hole in a man's head. Piledriver.
The Exalted Piledriver - Metal Manifesto (2008)
With a slight name change and new music over 20 years later, The Exalted Piledriver returned to reclaim their place at the top of album artwork kitsch.
Dogs With Jobs - Shock (1990)
I actually really like this one.
Racer X - Superheroes (2000)
I really don't like this one. Then again, how much can you expect of a band that thought "Hey, let's name our band after a character from an ancient Japanese anime show".