Jesus Frankenchrist, here we go again! Sacramento cacopho-rap outfit Death Grips–whose music roughly approximates the sensation of ramming your head through a plaster wall while on bath salts and blue meth, then flailing around for 45 minutes (but with bassbeats!)–put a big hairy boner on the cover of their new LP, NO LOVE DEEP WEB. Which, y’know, we totally get: How the hell are you supposed to read an album title scrawled in Sharpie across the top of a dude-piston if the words are buried within flaccid folds? You have to admire the practicality of it. If not the complete ridiculousness. We hear their label, Epic Records, was superfuckingpleased with the Mapplethorpian splendor of it all.
Problem is, Death Grips’ meat popsicle didn’t really entice us to explore the album’s aural terror-pleasures. Instead, it pushed us off into the dim recesses of our sullied brain to think of some of the other graphic/explicit/whoa-did-they-really-do-that? album covers we’ve encountered over the years, then over toward the skeeziest corners of the interwebs for visual reminders. Here’s a few that came to mind right away (not necessarily our “favorites,” but some of the more memorable ones, anyway), a few of which definitely put Death Grips’ fleshy shock-puppet to shame. NSFW after the jump.
– The 15 Most Ridiculous Band Promo Photos
Yes, it’s a nun fondling an erect penis, courtesy of the shadowy Finnish black metal combo Bloodhammer and their bludgeoning 2003 opus Abbedissan Saatanalliset Houreet. The indispensable Encyclopaedia Metallum reveals that the ‘Hammer’s go-to themes are “blasphemy,” “perversions,” and “Satanism” so, hey, as Meatloaf says, two outta three ain’t bad! (What, they couldn’t have given her a pentagram to wear in order to nail the trifecta?) Given that so many of these Scandinavian hellbeast bands get their kicks from burning down churches, it’s probably best that Bloodhammer instead indulged in the same silly “naughty nun” trope that popped up in every third porno flick made between 1977 and 1985. But the thing that really got our melon twisted: Nuns are allowed to wear nail polish? Who knew?!
Actually, the Dwarves’ Carrie-gone-to-Fantasy Island cover art for 1990’s killer Blood, Guts & Pussy pretty much rules, because it’s so hilariously fucked-up and yet strangely serene. Must be the white bunny. Or the deep sense of peace evident in the faces of these gore-splattered beauties–one that can only come from a purifying blood ritual presided over by an exuberant midget and/or that rascal Blag Dahlia. The photo was shot by lauded camera jockey Michael Lavine, who went on to famously snap Biggie Smalls standing next to a hearse for the Life After Death LP cover shortly before the rap icon was murdered. He now photographs celebs like Viggo Mortensen, Demi Lovato, Conan O’Brien, and others for hot-shit clients like Vogue and Esquire. But none of that probably would’ve happened without the Dwarves. This shot better be the first one in Lavine’s portfolio book, as a show of gratitude.
When Canadian music journalist Nick Krewen asked Nashville Pussy bassist Corey Parks–that’s her on the left; the chick on the right with the When Harry Met Sally face is guitarist Ruyter Suys–about their Let Them Eat Pussy cover back in ’98, Parks said to him, “Honey, that was the most enjoyable eight-hour photo shoot I’ve ever done in my life.” Eight hours of oral? Fuuuck. Who the hell’s that dude between her legs–Sting? Nashville Pussy gave us far more rippin’ rawk than we probably deserved, so it was good to see the ladies getting what they so richly deserved, in the process making the Yeastie Girlz extremely proud.
For some reason this Unrest cover feels like the beginning of a Raymond Carver story–if Carver was writing dimestore pulp-porn. Y’know: What We Talk About When We Talk About Teabags.
There’s at least a couple of ways you could convey the idea of a pungent stench without the need for olfactory receptors. You could draw a bunch of wavy lines, as Charles M. Schulz did with his Peanuts character “Pig-Pen.” Or you could stick a chunky, topless maniac with a gimp mask in the corner of a filthy room with blood-smeared walls, put a cleaver and carving knife in her grimy paws, surround her with a few severed limbs and a couple more implements of butchery, and also make sure she’s got some dinner–which in this case looks like human hand with a nice side of dogshit. Austrian death metal freaks Pungent Stench went with that very effective option B for their 1993 EP Dirty Rhymes and Psychotronic Beats, which features the sweet, sweet ditty “Blood, Pus, and Gastric Juice (Rare Groove Mix).” And we are all the more disgusted for it.
It’s a comedy album, but it still counts. And it’s Rudy Ray “Dolemite” “King of the Party Records!” Moore, dammit. 1988’s I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing! is a send-up of the popular ’70s Alka-Seltzer commercial, and from the expression on Moore’s face he could use a little plop-plop and a fizz-fizz after wolfing down a whole lotta meat of an unknown origin, and lord knows what else. That’s basically the same look of exhilaration and pain Kobayashi has after he wins the Coney Island hot-dog eating contest, though he’s not usually surrounded by three naked smiling ladyfriends who hope he’s got room for a little sumpin’ sumpin’ else. It’s entirely possible, given the ancient classical decor, that Moore is preparing to launch into a recitation of Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn”: “What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?” But chances are he’s about to hit ’em with “Everybody Fart” or “No One Knows Where the Nose Goes.”
If you squint your eyes (OK, you might just have to outright shut them), this could almost pass for one of those surreal Storm Thorgerson album covers–it’s THAT DAMN ARTSY! Then again, it could be a drunken outdoor Mummenschanz rehearsal. Or maybe a very early incarnation of the Arcade Fire. Art is so damn cool when it lends itself to multiple interpretations, ain’t it? Deranged Boston punks Hullabaloo likely weren’t thinking as much when they issued Dead Serious back in 1991. They probably just wanted to share their nudist pals’ grand ol’ time. We’re pretty sure the guy on the left knows it’s that kind of party, and we’re pretty sure he’s about to stick his dick in the mashed potatoes.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 4, 2012