Heavy Metal Thunder
Kick Ass Cover Art From Kick Ass Albums
by James Sherry and Neil Aldis
I’ve had a flashback into my long ago youth by taking a gander at Heavy Metal Thunder by James Sherry and Neil Aldis. The cover alone is a bombastic homage to the genre’s imagery, which works out perfectly, considering the book is all cover art from some of metal’s most influential (and obscure) albums. The forward, written by one Scott Ian of Anthrax, really rings true of his affection for the music, how it influenced his life and what Anthrax became. But he also touches on another truth of metal records; the covers are the first thing you see, and may be the sole reason you purchase the music.
As I flipped through the pages, each one building upon the next, I was taken back to the first time I had seen these covers. Spying Black Sabbath’s cover from 1970’s self-titled album in my older brother’s bedroom flashed into my brain and brought back that moment as if it were yesterday. Seeing the cover to Motley Crue’s 1982 Too Fast for Love in the bin at Peaches Music Store in Orlando on Colonial, near the Infinite Mushroom; I could almost smell the incense and plastic. Taking what lunch money I had hoarded and buying it, just because it looked fraught with sex and at 14, what else was a Catholic girl to do? I could go page by page and relay each one of the memories that come flooding back when looking at these little pieces of history. It’s a walk through my past, it’s a glimpse at my history.
Some of the artwork is magnificently done, so detailed, so colorful and some so morbid and dark. With the band names and titles taken off, these covers could stand on their own. (Thy Serpent’s Christcrusher, Funeral For a Friends’ Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation and any of the HR Geiger covers.) Some are so cartoonish that you can’t help but let loose a laugh. (Gang Green’s King of Bands, Tankard’s The Meaning of Life and Bad News’ self titled album.) Some of are so warped, you can’t help but wonder what sort of mind conjured this up. (Cannibal Corpse’s Butchered at Birth, Brujeria’s Matandos Gueros and Carcass’ Reek of Putrefaction.) And others so indicative of the time they came from– big breasted women, big haired pretty boys and lots of makeup on both– that you just really feel your age. (Most of the 1980’s was riddled with either one or both of these- Ratt, Britny Fox and Tigertailz.)
If you are looking for some heavy reading, Heavy Metal Thunder isn’t the one. This is pure entertainment, the blurbs for the various sections and albums are informative and well-written but do leave the avid non-fiction reader wanting more. The afterword is a six-page warble on Manowar and in the words of the authors, “Finally, it would be impossible to compile a book about heavy metal album covers and not have an in-depth look at Manowar.” True. They are the epitome of pure metal. The cover art for 1997’s Anthology is a full-color page of Joey DeMaio in all his semi-naked leather-clad glory. And what book would be complete without that?