The following was obtained through our contributor Billy Metts who is good friends with U.S. president Obama. He has been invited to several conferences and held many metal discussions with him. He has even dubbed Obama the first “black metal president.” As you’ll see below, President Obama is very passionate about the current state of metal.
From the desk of the President of the United States
Your band’s cover art sucks. This is, unfortunately, likely a true statement. You probably said to your band mates “we need something intense, something atmospheric, something that sums up everything we’re trying to get across.” Your band mates most likely agreed, that’s a pretty good idea on that level. You’re on dangerous ground. You’re about to make a decision that will alter the course of your career in music by giving your music a cover to be (probably unfairly) judged by. You’re about to create a 12×12 or 5 1/4 x 5 1/4 mission statement to the world- to those who will listen to you, review you, not listen to you, address your “evil” message in a power point in front of a church, buy your album for their grand kid for the holidays, order your album for stores, and lift your name into the pantheon of of all the awesome bands you love. You’re about to spend a couple of hundred bucks on the artwork and then a couple of grand to press it up, DIY all the way. You’re about to really show the world what your band is all about.
Your band is about to royally screw the pooch.
That’s right! You just decided to put a black and white photo of a forest on the cover. Yep. That’s going to totally let somebody know what the contents of the package are. That’s going to guarantee your album won’t get misfiled next to George Winston in the New Age section across the store. That’s going to sell a million units, the one with the pine trees on it! Now let’s slap that logo that looks like you wrote it on a napkin in cheap marker and sat a cold beer on it for half an hour on there. Is that an upside down cross or a J? Does that say Fraathlogotch or Fraggle Rock? WHO KNOWS!?! Yep, it’s now filed away on a guess by some 16 year old clerk in a place where even dust doesn’t go.
Now this doesn’t apply to all (or only) metal bands, It does apply to an ever growing horde of them. That was also just one possible example of cover art screwing your band into a cut out bin. There are some really awesome covers coming out that tell the story well, but those account for a small percentage. let’s face it, There are more metal labels on this planet in 2012 than there are giraffes. Some of them seem to be run by Beavis and Butthead or a satanic Bob and Doug McKenzie off of a desire to “keep real metal alive” and use their scratch off lotto winnings for something more constructive than weed. Those account for a hell of a lot of the total output of heavy metal. It’s largely composed of records with a giant towering, orange and red, horned demon either stretching his arms out against a black sky over some mock Gustav Dore version of hell or getting serviced by an army platoon of women while holding a very large sword. Yes, they still make covers that seriously lame in 2012. I’ve seen ‘em. It’s not all on par with the best Relapse’s or Translation Loss’ releases. Those are done by designers and artists who are, for all appearances, world class.
What I’m getting at mostly is that metal is a) a grossly over saturated but also, by percentage, a pretty small portion of the total music market b) occupied by some of the most judgmental, opinionated, gullible, easily swayed, devoted fans and c) still trying to fully define its parameters and boundaries as a sound, accumulating sub-genres of sub-genres sub-genres at an alarming rate and with it, different ways to deliver the message (whatever that might be.) Because it’s so over saturated, subdivided, and yet small, the way bands present themselves to the listener is first through the cover. If a band makes a stupid first impression that doesn’t tell a thing about what’s going on on the disc, they’re mostly dead in the water and their last line of defense are websites, blogs, magazines, etc. and a lot of times the guy who gets the record is the guy who hates everything sounds like the record and is going to spew some attempt at semi humorous bile and now the record will be dead in the water.
Please, this is a call to bands WORLDWIDE- BE CREATIVE WITH YOUR COVER ART. Do it for the sake of not getting filed in the wrong part of stores, for the sake of letting people know what it is you do, for the sake of getting your band over to the masses. Black Sabbath has the worst album covers of all time and those are considered iconic. You can do at least that good if you put your minds to it. I know you can’t write your awesome faux Scandinavian, vowel and umlaut rich, name in comic sans- but you can make it somewhat legible, or at least put a sticker on the shrink wrap for clarity.. A pentagram is not a letter. Metal bands- you can do better, I have faith in you.
That is all. Thank you very much. God Bless America.
Barack Hussein Obama.