SUFFOCATION - EFFIGY OF THE FORGOTTEN
This one has always been one of my favorites. Some sort of biomechanical scavenger/warrior hanging out in a post-apocalyptic alien junkyard dismembering puny humans. Some sort of greasy little martian-spawn lies at his feet, solemnly contemplating the eradication of humankind. And is he part Volkswagen bug? Drawn by the always-trippy Dan Seagrave (as all good DM album covers were in the 90's), this piece of art exudes grime, death, and malice. Perfect fit for Suffocation's groundbreaking, technical metal style. I remembering showing this to my son a couple years ago at Streetlight Records in Santa Cruz. Calvyn (a big fan of Transformers, monster movies, and all things large and destructive) just stood with his jaw agape, transfixed by the awesomeness of the robotic menace in his midst.
NOCTURNUS - THE KEY
Another giant robot, but this one is chilling in a massive robo-armchair unlocking something with some sort of lightning bolt/pentagram 'key' (I've got to assume this is the key that the title of the album refers to). Another Seagrave masterpiece. The album itself is a concept album about said android going back in time to the year 0 B.C. to destroy Jesus, and, as a result, all of Christianity, and to establish a sweet new robotic empire to take it's place. Another perfect match of artwork and music, as Nocturnus' keyboardy, sci-fi meets thrash/death hybrid is the ultimate soundtrack to destroy things with lazers to.
DISMEMBER - MASSIVE KILLING CAPACITY
Why are giant mechanical killing machines so conducive to metal? I think it's fairly obvious, really. Good death metal is the sound of giant beasts rampaging over a barren landscape littered with human skulls, slaying all in their path. This particular killing machine is a prime example. With face-mounted missiles, giant chainsaws for arms and no less than 26 guns firing simultaneously, he's truly not to be fucked with. I like to speculate about who would win in a fight between this guy and the dude from the "Effigy" cover. My money's on this one. He has way more guns and shit and just looks HELLA BLASTED (in the robot kind of way), whereas the "Effigy" dude, although badass in his own right, is poorly armed and his limbs are kinda flimsy.
BOLT THROWER - REALM OF CHAOS
Bolt Thrower, way back in the day, already knew what the fuck was up. Plenty of metal bands were dorking around, writing songs about Dungeons and Dragons and shit, doing their best to tie together the realms of metal and role-playing games. But Bolt Thrower took it one step further, writing their songs (and even naming their band after) elements from Warhammer 40K. For all you squares out there, Warhammer is a totally brutal role playing game set in the amazing year 40,000! That's really far in the future! In this magical future, an epic battle rages between these space-orc kind of dudes and well-armed human defenders. The weapons and armor are totally kick ass and the concept, obviously, is impeccable. "Realm of Chaos", lyrically, was their most Warhammer-related release, and the cover fits perfectly. Just check those guys out! Totally thrashing down with guns a-blazin', like some kind of far-future mosh pit. Sweet! Minus a couple points though, because there are no more than 20 guns firing in this one, far short of the 26 on the Dismember album.
SEPULTURA - ARISE
Now THIS looks like a cool place to hang out. Some sort of creepy castle, possibly on the ocean floor, with crab claws and goat skulls and all kinds of crazy shit poking out of it. I have to take a moment here to point out that Cryptopsy totally stole this image for their debut album, "Blasphemy Made Flesh". Nice try, Canada! Anyhow, Sepultura can't really be classified as purely death metal, but hey, close enough. I can totally imagine the giant robots from the Suffocation and Dismember albums, plus the Nocturnus android and Warhammer guys retiring back to this place after a long day out slaughtering posers. They'd probably throw their feet up on a big coffee table made of human bones, crack open a couple 40's and watch some anime or something... Dang, I wish I could hang out with them!