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Horror-inspired Album Artwork

Horror’s integration in pop culture has thrived in the last thirty years. From popular television series to successful movie franchises, such as Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, the market for horror has grown into the popular mainstream with great success. Slowly creeping its way into different publishing mediums, the most memorable and frightening are those found on music albums covers.

From heavy metal to punk artists, perhaps many have found the messages in the artwork to reflect personal demons, political struggles, some form of activism, or in some cases, the artwork just looks really cool. Note: the list of album covers is completely subjective and does not reflect the quality of the artwork.

These are the following most frightening album covers:

  1. Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast, by Derek Riggs:

Metal icons hailing from East London and heard all around the globe, their third album, The Number of the Beast, was at the center of controversy due in part to the album cover. Designed by Derek Riggs, The Number of the Beast artwork depicts Eddie (the band’s mascot) controlling Satan as a string-puppet who in turn is also controlling Eddie as a puppet. The message was to reflect the influence of evil; does evil take control or is it merely a tool to be controlled?

  1. Alice Cooper – Constrictor, by David Hale Associates:

Perhaps the literal translation of the album title displayed on the LP cover was used as a means of shock value during the time of its release. As Cooper stares wide-eyed in fright, a boa constrictor is seen strangling him while coiled in the singer’s mouth. What the image represents is debatable, but it is certainly disturbing. The artwork most definitely reflects the album’s homage to the horror genre, since a few songs were written exclusively for film.

  1. Return of the Living Dead (motion picture soundtrack), by Carl Ramsey:

Released in1985, the original film introduced untapped territory that was unheard of within the zombie film genre. The album’s artwork, taken directly from the theatrical movie poster, depicts several zombies surrounding a gravestone. The backdrop reveals additional zombies lurking in the darkness; perhaps the most frightening feature of the album’s cover.

  1. Slayer – Repentless, by Marcelo Vasco:

Notorious for their representation of Judeo-Christian themes, based on a framework of political and religious disputes, Slayer make no disinclinations in expressing the significance of their message. LP artwork by Marcelo Vasco, Repentless lends itself to carrying similar themes and images as previous Slayer albums released during the 1980’s. Vasco himself stated in an interview with And Justice for Art, “Honestly, I think the art should not be explained…but in fact it’s intriguing, and I love that feeling. Let’s leave room for people’s own interpretation.[1]

  1. Die Antwoord – Ten$ion, by Ross Garrett:

South African rap group, Die Antwoord, have been associated with the “counter-culture” movement (most notably in their native land of South Africa) due to their eclectic musical sound and image. The album cover for Ten$ion, photographed by Ross Garrett, portrays lead vocalist YoLandi Visser standing amid a white backdrop consuming a bloody heart. This is perhaps one of the most ominous album covers of the last ten years.

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