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By Jason Roche
Halloween is the time where it’s acceptable to wallow in the creepy, the crawly, the dark, and the macabre. Sounds like the themes of heavy metal, year-round! Here then, are those most spine-tingliest metal album covers, for your All Hallow’s Eve viewing pleasure. Step inside…
Better Than Raw (1998)
This haunted house wouldn’t be complete without an alluring and sexy witch to distract you, but you likely won’t be happy with your final fate. Unfortunately, Helloween’s Better Than Raw album cover (above) is more memorable than the music contained, as this album is not one of the European power-metal outfit’s better efforts.
Last Rites (2011)
Pentagram leader Bobby Liebling has been through hell and back since he first concocted his brand of doom-rock in the early 1970s. The album cover is a reminder that death will be waiting for you in the end, ready to log you into his guestbook.
New York noise-rockers Unsane’s latest showed that five years off between albums had not dulled their edge. But the real question here is: Whose blood is this? Is it yours? Did it come from me? Does the blood on this man’s hand belong to…both of us?
Supernatural Addiction (2000)
Virginia death-thrashers Deceased have made a career out of mining the macabre. Edgar Allen Poe may feature prominently on this cover, but he is not the only source of inspiration on this album, which also features songs inspired by vintage EC Comics, The Twilight Zone, and more.
Opus Eponymous (2010)
When there’s a large lurking evil pope hovering with its arms raised above a creepy house, you should probably stay away. These Swedish rockers sing delightfully melodic odes to Satan, which somehow seem even more sinister than abrasive death and black metal.
Abigail II: The Revenge (2002)
Every good horror movie gets a sequel, so naturally the classic 1987 concept album exploring timeless macabre themes has one too. The woman standing at the gates of the haunted house here is Abigail, grown-up now, but a mere child when she survived the horrors of the first album’s story.
Iron Maiden’s famous mascot Eddie has been terrorizing the band’s album covers and live shows for over thirty years. He has been to outer space, Egypt, hell, and the future. He has never been more menacing than here, ready to kill anyone who walks down the wrong alley.
Accident of Birth (1997)
For most of his solo career, Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson didn’t attempt to top Eddie with his album covers. But this jester puppet — nicknamed “Edison” — is fucking creepy. Depicting Edison popping out of a man’s stomach wielding a spiked-nail club, this album cover, belonging to the U.K. release, was deemed too graphic for U.S. consumption.
When The Kite String Pops (1996)
We know that Freddy Krueger is not going to invade our dreams and kill us in our sleep. So real-life horror can be even more terrifying. The cover for this mid-’90s sludge-metal release consists of a painting of serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s alter-ego Pogo The Clown, painted by Gacy himself.
Possessed 13 (2003)
A damsel in distress appears to be disturbed here, one of the classier reproductions of ’50s horror-movie posters. Eschewing gore in favor of mood, this album cover lulls you into a false sense of security, which is disrupted by the crushing death-thrash of the music itself.
When other punk bands of the era focused on politics, the Misfits were one of the first to channel their love of retro-horror. The group’s iconic skull logo is on display here in the 1987 expanded version of the group’s live album, hovering above band members trapped inside caskets.
Life’s Blood (2011)
The year of release may have been 2011, but this gem is a strong throwback to ’80s classics by bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. That goes for their album cover too, which advises that even if you keep the faith, you may still fall victim to the clutches of evil.
Back Through Time (2011)
This Scottish pirate-metal outfit does an excellent job of sticking to the gimmick, right down to the ghost pirate that has popped up on all of their album covers so far. This guy is more hardcore than any gracing the animation cels of Scooby-Doo cartoons.
Portrait Of An American Family (1994)
Marilyn Manson has spent years trying to convince us he’s the anti-Christ, but we have never been as creeped out by him as in the early days. The living room here sets the mood for the twisted tales ahead.
Bonded By Blood (1985)
One of the landmark albums in thrash metal, Bonded By Blood has an appropriately horrifying cover. The legend of the evil twin is a staple in storytelling, but it’s more amplified when the evil twin is conjoined to the good twin, and the only escape is a risky separation that could kill both of them.
Bark At The Moon (1983)
Contrary to popular belief, you do not turn into a vampire if you bite the head off a bat. Thankfully for Ozzy Osbourne, he survived his brief werewolf spell to become one of America’s most treasured reality-television icons. We liked him better as a werewolf.
In Sorte Diaboli (2007)
You may think you’ve made a wrong turn when you walk into a room and you find a bunch of people worshipping at the altar of a Satanic goat demoness. But for these Norwegian metal lords, it’s just business as usual.
Children of Bodom
Follow The Reaper (2000)
The Grim Reaper has appeared on most of the albums from this Finnish death-metal quintet, but this is their most classic image of Death. Nothing gratuitous or over-the-top; just good old-fashioned Death awaiting the next member of his kingdom.
Black Thunder (2005)
When someone puts up a fight and tries to run away from Death, sometimes transportation is needed. Death rides his mighty steed and descends upon those who will receive their fate. The cover is a little deceiving though, as the music contained on the album is some mighty fine metallic rock and roll.
Butchered At Birth (1991)
Future album covers by these Buffalo death-metal pioneers would actually be gorier and more explicit. But we find this album cover scariest, as it addresses the mystery meat in our school lunches all those years ago…What?! That’s not our lunch lady?
An Overdose of Death… (2008)
With a name like Toxic Holocaust, you know these thrashers don’t have much faith in humanity. But apparently they don’t have much faith in the animal kingdom either. If the looks in the eyes of these wild dogs are any indication, evil is not solely a human characteristic.
Global Flatline (2012)
Here, a worldwide zombie outbreak is imagined by this Belgian death metal crew. Rick from The Walking Dead can lead the charge in America all he wants, but the world is fucked if he doesn’t think globally.
Let It Stink (2007)
The cover of The Beatles’ classic swan song Let It Be is re-imagined here. This Swedish death-metal quartet wallows in the filth on tracks like “Giving Head To The Dead” and “Walking But Dead.” If the zombie apocalypse occurred in 1970, Apple Records still would have had a hit on their hands.
Zombie Attack (1986)
The debut album by these German thrashers presents a United Nations of ghastly horrors. Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, a skeleton, and an axe-wielding hillbilly have united to…watch a shitty horror movie on television. If you walk into this room, turn back while they are distracted.
The Fatal Feast (2012)
So, you made it out of the haunted house, and went to the one place you thought would be safe…space. It turns out you are still not safe, as this concept album from the Virginia skate-thrashers envisions the great beyond as yet-another place where no one is safe from ghastly horror.
Follow Jason Roche on Twitter @JasonRocheLAW.