Since 1910 musicians have associated visual arts with their sonic output in the form of the almighty album cover. And since 1987, Roadrunner Records has been a source of some visually stunning and visually disturbing images in the wide world of album art, nevertheless honoring the tradition. Whether using an image to set the tone for what's to follow on your speakers, or as a means of branding in forever associating a picture with a title, there is no question as to the power of the album cover — which is why the label took a look at every album released on Roadrunner Records U.S. to find the greatest covers in its celebrated history.
Voted on by the Roadrunner worldwide staff, showcasing the iconic vs. the blasphemous, the painted vs. the photographed, as well as the found art vs. the commissioned art, we give you the "Ten Greatest Album Covers in Roadrunner History" — one at a time.
Feast your eyes on #7 below, and check back at RoadrunnerRecords.com every day as the label counts down to number one.
#10: KING DIAMOND - "Abigail"
#9: MACHINE HEAD - "The Blackening"
#8: TYPE O NEGATIVE - "Slow, Deep And Hard"
#7: SEPULTURA - "Chaos A.D."
This 1993 release from Brazilian metallers SEPULTURA sonically sees the band transcend from their thrashing death metal aesthetic into a more eclectic output, showcasing groove-oriented paces, incorporating moody riffs, industrial soundscapes and even introducing hardcore punk elements throughout the record. With protest songs like "Refuse/ Resist" and the Jello Biafra-penned "Biotech is Godzilla" spouting conspiracy theories, the politically-charged lyrics aided in "Chaos A.D." becoming a breakthrough album for the band worldwide.
And as for the visual representation? SEPULTURA founder and former frontman Max Cavalera describes its conception: "'Chaos A.D.' was commissioned through Michael Whelan [whom] we already used on two albums before — 'Beneath the Remains' and 'Arise' — but 'Beneath the Remains' and 'Arise' were already existing paintings, and 'Chaos A.D.' was a brand new painting that was commissioned by us to Michael Whelan to create based on the name of the album. We gave it to him, and he came up with the body bag with the money upside down and all the electronic stuff going through the body bag and I think it was really cool."
Continues Cavalera, "There's a lot of detail in Michael Whelan's artwork. There's a lot of little things for people to look at — on the machinery you can see little hands and people's faces and stuff like that.
"I was really proud because I really like Michael Whelan, I think he's one of the best artists. And I'm really proud that I got to work with him on 'Chaos' and gave him ideas. He delivered, you know, he did a great album cover that a lot of people love."
In the YouTube clip below, Senior VP of A&R Monte Conner offers his point of view.