Thursday, March 25, 2010

This Week in The Man: Travis Smith

And just like that, BBB turned into an album art blog.

After seeing the cover for Nevermore's upcoming release The Obsidian Conspiracy, I think I might have a bit of a hard on for the artwork of Travis Smith, whose credits also include Nevermore's Dreaming Neon Black and This Godless Endeavor and Opeth's Blackwater Park, Ghost Reveries, and Watershed, which are all pretty sweet pieces of album art. Looking over Smith's full portfolio, I suspect he gets work because he knows how to make covers that fit the band's style, but what draws me to the covers I linked to above is how he's developed visual representations of each band's musical aesthetic that, even when they rely on metal art's more standard cliches, present something new to contemplate. Let me give you an example of what I mean:

Nevermore's covers all go for a bit of shock value, whether it's the hand of someone drowning, a baby with a stamp on its head, a death mask, or feral children, which match the rather bleak outlook of the lyrics. But that shock value becomes far more interesting when Smith gets involved - compare the cover of The Politics of Ecstasy (which Smith did not design) with that of The Obsidian Conspiracy:

The baby in the fire with the "Controlled" stamp has some impact (innocence subverted, the manipulation of the illusion of freedom), but has all of the subtlety of a brick wall across a superhighway when compared with the creepy Cthulu children and their post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C. The cover of The Politics of Ecstasy wants to make a point; the cover of The Obsidian Conspiracy hints at a really awesome story. To my mind, it's the later that makes for really good album art in metal.


atanamar said...

I still think Natural Born Chaos was Travis Smith's finest hour.

Eric said...

Yeah, that one is pretty sick, too - has the same story quality I was talking about. The Wacken Carnage is also pretty awesome, as is The January Tree.