Dimitri Scheblanov of Herring & Herring, one of the creative directors and photographers of METALLICA's "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct" album, has denied drawing influence from the cover of CROWBAR's 1998 classic "Odd Fellows Rest" for the design of METALLICA's disc.
While both covers feature four band dudes with their images superimposed into one hydra-like face, with the band dude on the left sticking out his tongue, Scheblanov said the similarity was "definitely not an intentional one." He told Decibel magazine: "I think while the look might be somewhat similar, I think the intention behind it was probably pretty different for us and also for Turner Duckworth, the design agency [who worked on the cover]. I guess I like the CROWBAR cover [laughs]; there's nothing wrong with it or anything. But, yeah, it was pretty shocking that there was such a similar-looking thing. But I had never heard of the band or the music so it was also interesting that it was another metal act."
He continued: "I'll tell you the funny thing: on Tuesday the record [cover] came out, then I guess that Friday or Saturday we went out to Minneapolis to see METALLICA play because they were projecting the photos up on the screen [at the concert]. So afterwards when we were at the afterparty with the band, we were talking with management and with some of the guys from the band and talking about all the different comments we'd gotten since the album art came out. Somebody brought up the CROWBAR thing. The funniest bit of it was everyone was like, 'Who the fuck is CROWBAR?' That made it feel a little bit better, because we were kind of shocked, but because other people within the community didn't really know about them either we felt it wasn't such a huge deal, that it wasn't a well-known enough thing to where most people would think that there was some kind of copycatting. So at first we were really shocked by it but then hearing that they were kind of a smaller act we definitely felt better about it since it'd be pretty bad if people felt we were trying to rip somebody off."
Asked what the chances were of both covers featuring the face on the left with its tongue sticking out, Scheblanov said: "That's the thing; it's pretty crazy. When we started working on the project and were making these covers in August-ish, there were actually about nine different combinations, there's the vinyl cover and the deluxe vinyl cover, there's a bunch of them. Originally there were nine, and the band just picked one out of those nine to be the actual cover, and that was the one. It's weird. It's definitely like, whoa. But it's one of these things where it's some kind of strange coincidence, or I don't know what to call it. I don't know how exactly it came to be that, like… yeah, I think the tongue thing is pretty interesting. But we gave 400 images in the end to Turner Duckworth and they were probably just going for the more interesting silhouettes."
CROWBAR's Kirk Windstein was one of the first ones to point out the similarities between the "Odd Fellows Rest" and "Hardwired…To Self-Destruct" covers, writing on his Facebook page: "In all fairness, after touring with the mighty METALLICA while in DOWN, I know the fellas know who CROWBAR is. However, I seriously doubt that any member of METALLICA stole this idea from us. Maybe the artist? Anyway you slice it... it's a cool cover idea!!! Now James and Lars, go listen to 'Odd Fellows Rest'!!! LOL"
The "Odd Fellows Rest" art direction was handled by John Buttino.
"Hardwired...To Self-Destruct" was released on November 18 via METALLICA's own Blackened Recordings.