The fact that Abuse kicked more ass than an army of Six Million Dollar Men cloned from Bruce Lee took Wormrot 75 percent of the way to establishing their debut album as an instantaneous modern classic of the grindcore persuasion. That other quarter slice of genius comes courtesy of the retina-mugging cover. And as grind history has proved time and time again, a rotting skull is never a bad artistic choice. Behold six choice selections from the pedigree.
Grim and grisly set the tone for one of the earliest grind touchstones. Here used to jab home a political point, a skull-faced Reaper looms over his good buddies, a handful of corporate plutocrats sent straight from central casting. This Jeff Walker benchmark is so iconic it’s been endlessly aped, including a recent loving homage from Rotten Sound.
The grim granddaddy of all moldering mugs, Repulsion’s cartoonishly festering skull art perfectly encapsulated the band’s grade-Z horror film fetish and aesthetic. Though I’m sure the Michigan monster squad intended for it to be … umm … horrifying, by today’s standards its dated cheesiness is part of its endearing and enduring charm.
Maggot-eyed shambling corpse too off putting for the Wal-Mart crowd? Ohio hooligans Hemdale solved this conundrum by making sure their three-quarters profile zombified mascot was snorgling a cute kitten on compilation album Rad Jackson. Now everyone say, “Awwwwwwwwwwwww.” The juxtaposition of zombie + saccharine sweetness perfectly telegraphs the band’s mixture of absurd and horrific in one eye popping package.On a side note, are zombies really qualified to care for a domestic animal? Probably named him Squishy, too.
El Dia Despues al Fin de la Humanidad
If Robert Kirkman, for some unforeseeable reason, should boot longtime collaborator Charlie Adlard from zombie comic The Walking Dead, Nashgul bassist Luis could easily step into the breach. The four-stringer is responsible for El Dia Despues al Fin de la Humanidad’s cover piece, which is at once intricately detailed, horrifically evocative and more than a touch fun. That static image provided more chills and laughs than about the last four George Romero films combined.
By 2009 just putting any old shriveled coconut on your album cover was sooooooo passé. So Poland’s Squash Bowels (such an evocative name!) upped the artistic ante with a severed head vomiting up its own innards (from where, since it’s, ya know, severed?) while crying out why I’m going to say is some sort of cerebrospinal fluid. And don’t think I didn’t notice that delightful Frankenstein’s monster coiffure either. It’s the little touches that make Grind Virus stand out.
Lest you be fooled into thinking this is strictly a gore grind phenomenon, XBrainiax got into the death face race last year with their compilation Hail Fastcore. Twisting tradition 90 degrees, the band chose an exploded profile shot to make their fast punk point rather than the more staid head on shot. I’m sure plastination artist Gunthen von Hagens would approve.