On the Record: Favorite Metal Album Covers

Words by Kyle Sauter

In the days of MP3s and streaming music, album art is easily overlooked. It used to be whether shopping for vinyl, tapes or CD’s, the album art was the quickest way to draw attention to a release. A lot of people over a certain age can remember being exposed to a new artist simply based on some intriguing album artwork, maybe something you wouldn’t want mom to see, while browsing through the bins. Even though now most album art is relegated to a tiny thumbnail in the corner of a computer window, there has been a recent resurgence in vinyl, and with that, a rekindled attention and appreciation to the artwork.

While some genres of music put more emphasis on album artwork than others, we reached out to artist, graphic designer and metalhead, Kyle Sauter, to list a few of his favorites. When Kyle’s not busy doing custom illustration and design for brands like Burton Snowboards, 10 Barrel Brewing and Sizzle Pie, this Portland-based artist has the tunes cranked up while riding his bike, backpacking or snowboarding. Regardless if you’re into metal, rap, punk, psychedelic ghost rock or indie music, anyone can appreciate the art of these album covers. Be sure to fire up the accompanying Spotify playlist at the bottom while reading this post. 


Baroness—Blue Record

Art: John Dyer Baizley

John Dyer Baizley, the artist and frontman of Baroness, has had a very prolific career and could easily fill out an entire list of amazing album covers on his own. His artwork incorporates the classic art nouveau stylings of Alphonse Mucha with a touch of the attitude of hardcore/metal legend Pusshead to produce work that is truly timeless. All of Baizley’s artwork for Baroness is excellent, but his cover for Blue Record is one of my favorites. (Song: Swollen and Halo)





Mastodon—Once More ‘Round The Sun

Art: Skinner

Skinner’s eye-popping psychedelic cosmic horrorscape is cheerfully nightmarish and is the perfect visual accompaniment to Mastodon’s sixth studio album Once More ‘Round The Sun. The Oakland-based artist’s Instagram is definitely worth a follow as well, delivering daily servings of tripped-out demon warriors and Skinner’s hilarious stream of consciousness musings in his Insta-stories. (Song: Tread Lightly)  






Skeletonwitch—The Apothic Gloom

Art: Sin Eater

If I was going to be 100% honest with myself, I’d put John Dyer Baizley here again for his work on two of my favorite pieces for Skeletonwitch—Worship The Witch, and Serpents Unleashed. As I’ve already put him on this list, we’ll go with the equally amazing artwork for Skeletonwitch’s 2016 EP The Apothic Gloom by the UK-based Sin Eater. His meticulous pen and ink illustration evokes the vibe of an ancient illuminated manuscript or medieval etching, while at the same time, feeling clearly contemporary. (Song: The Apothic Gloom)  





Hooded Menace—Effigies of Evil

Art: David D’Andrea

Like the work of Sin Eater, the intricate pen and ink drawing style of Portland-based David D’Andrea feels as though it comes from a different era. His eerie illustration pairs perfectly with Hooded Menace’s crushing blend of death-laced doom metal and masterfully evokes the vibe of the classic Italian horror films that the band draws inspiration from. (Song: Crumbling Insanity)






High On Fire—Death Is This Communion

Art: Arik Roper

Arik Roper has been a fixture of the stoner rock world for a long time now and has created iconic artwork for more than a few legendary albums in the genre. He has worked with High On Fire for a handful of their album covers, but his ink and watercolor painting for Death Is This Communion is one of my favorites. (Song: Fury Whip)







Vektor—Terminal Redux

Art: Adam Burke

Adam Burke’s beautifully atmospheric painting style pairs superbly with Vektor’s signature brand of sci-fi inspired blackened thrash metal. Evoking the cover of a dimestore sci-fi pulp novel, the artwork is a great visual compliment to Vektor’s 2016 LP Terminal Redux. (Song: Pillars of Sand)








Art: Sam Turner

The unabashedly high-fantasy cover art for Khemmis’s Hunted would be right at home in the pages of a vintage Dungeons & Dragons handbook, and I love it. This excellent work was created by Denver-based illustrator and bike messenger, Sam Turner, whose illustrations also grace the cover of Khemmis’s previous album Absolution. (Song: Candlelight)








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