One of the best parts about buying a physical album (if you still do that sort of thing) is the album cover art. And if you're a metalhead or crusty punker, the more brutal and bloody it is, the better. After all, metal and punk have never been about bowing down to political correctness or normal standards of decency. In honor of the countless examples of extreme album art that make you look twice, cringe or shake your head in horror and disgust, we now present our picks for the 10 Goriest Album Covers.
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10. Feed Us a Fetus by Dayglo Abortions (1986)
This is the second album by these obnoxious punk rock societal rejects from Canada. Since the early '80s, this band has been shoveling out a thrashy brand of punk that has been freaking out parents and religious leaders for decades. This album, although artistic in nature, depicts late President Ronald Regan and first Lady Nancy Regan together smiling; below them is a roasted, bloody human fetus covered in candy, served on a platter.
8. The Art of Partying by Municipal Waste (2007)
This is the third full-length album by a band that is celebrated as heroes of the crossover thrash scene. Hailing from Richmond, Va., it makes sense that some of the band's peers from the Richmond punk/metal scene include GWAR, and Lamb of God. The Art of Partying is homage to such crossover innovators as DRI, and the Cro Mags, while still maintaining a high level of melody and sense of thrash to please fans of Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies. This collection of songs by the Municipal Waste is a sonic slab of circle pit-educing mayhem. The cover art is no less extreme: something that looks like a cartoon scene that combines “Breaking Bad” with “The Walking Dead.” Imagine a violent, apocalyptic backyard punk rock party, fit for a zombie. Thrashers in denim, jeans, hats and spiked belts vomit up radioactive green sludge that is served from a keg, as several metal heads partake in a cannibalistic ritual, and others tear at their own flesh. Talk about a party for the end of the world!
7.The Principal of Evil Made Flesh by Cradle of Filth (1994)
Years before English Black Metal band Cradle of Filth was a successful, popular band, they were an underground, extreme black metal band. The band's debut album was a marauding mix of traditional black metal: blast beats and blasphemy, with an added mix of gothic melody, sensuality, and the unique voice of singer Dani Filth. The Principle of Evil Made Flesh is obsessed with darkness, ancient mythology, evil entities the matriarchy of evil, carnal lust, and the occult. The album cover is very gothic vampire themed, and features a black and greenish gray picture of two beautiful nude, blood stained women, one embracing the other, caressing her chest, biting at an exposed bloody neck.
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6. Humanure by Cattle Decapitation (2004)
Cattle Decapitation has crated a niche for itself among death grind with a brutal subject matter, but few bands are so dedicated toward songs about hating humans, and revealing the brutality of animal cruelty. The cover of this album, the band's third release, caused a stir among some major retailers who refused to sell and display it if the artwork wasn't changed. What was so disturbing you ask? Pictures a cow in a barren wasteland. Not so bad. Now imagine the cow, taking care of a natural bodily function: pooping. But, instead of 'manure' the cover shows a regurgitated, nauseating pile of ground chunks of human flesh; the remnants of several bloody faces, half digested skulls, limbs, hands and other mangled body parts are compressed in this bloody, disgusting pile of bovine fecal matter. Yeah, that might make you think twice about eating a hamburger.
4. Tomb of the Mutilated by Cannibal Corpse (1992)
This third album by Cannibal Corpse took extreme, graphic, brutal and disturbing to another level. The gruesome artwork features a couple as victims, whose life was cut short by a knife-wielding maniac. The two lovers were butchered during a steaming session of oral sex. A nude dead woman with slashes covering her neck and face has chest and torso split open; her arms bound and legs wide open revealing bloody rotten exposed genitals. Her partner is also slashed to death on the floor with is face buried in her open legs. His body is ripped to shred only flaps of his upper body flesh an bones remain. A skull and candles, puddles of blood and a knife all lie strewn among the scene, suggesting a ritualistic aspect to the sexually explicit killings. What did you expect from a musically brutal and lyrically disgusting concept album, with abhorrent songs about extreme torture, rape sadomasochism and the butchering of children?
3.Gore Metal by Exhumed (1998)
This was the debut full-length album by gore metal innovator's Exhumed. With a sound that was ultra fast and super brutal, this album cover looks like a possible scene from cannibal serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. With songs like 'Necromaniac,' 'Limb From Limb,' 'Deathmask,' 'Blazing Corpse,' and 'My Human Slaughterhouse,' there;s no doubt that the cover makes perfect sense. In a nightmarish, blood splattered kitchen, a hand wearing leather spikes is holding a bloody, buzzing chainsaw, all rusty and covered with blood and chunks of flesh and organs. A tortured decapitated head is seen in the microwave, and piles of bones and various ghastly, oozing organs, blood, flesh and human meat are thrown about. The feet and/or arms of a corpse are cooked in a pot on the stove and the ground is covered with bloody disgusting secretions. Mmm, tasty.
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2. The Dead Shall Dead Remain by Impaled (2000 N re-released in 2013)
Released by Northern California's sadistic death metal surgeons Impaled, this classic album was re-mastered and re-recorded this year. But, when it comes to the album's cover, the original is much more shocking and visceral: a real looking photo that was (HOPEFLLY) fake, which depicts toilet filled with red, stringy bits of flesh and intestines. Next to the bowl on the ground is much more horror–someone's ripped open bloody stomach, spleen, guts and bowels are covering the ground. A portion of a spiked punker belt is seen around the corner of black pants or shorts, giving the viewer just enough assurance the victim was probably into punk rock or heavy metal. This cover is a perfect gore-filled representation of what Impaled's blood soaked career in extreme metal is all about.
1. Dawn Of The Black Hearts by Mayhem (1990)
From the forefathers of Scandinavian darkness, this raw, anguished live album was recorded in Sarpsborg, Norway, in 1990, less than a year before vocalist Dead took his own life by slashing his wrists then literally blowing his brains out with a shotgun. This is one of only a few recordings to feature both 'Dead' and guitarist/founding member Euronymous in the band. What sets this album apart is the graphic cover: a real life picture taken by founding guitarist Euronyomus, of Dead's body. You can see a mashed up red glob of wrinkly tissue that was his brain; blood covers much of his body, his pale white face and blond hair look eerie and stiff, and he is missing the front portion of his head. His arms are stained with blood, and a shotgun and knife are seen beside his corpse. It was said that drummer Hellhammer and Euronyomus kept fragments of Dead's skull on a necklace in memory of their fallen band mate.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.