Any classically-trained graphic artist familiar with the human anatomy can tell you: Drawing human hands is really hard. Nowhere is this sad fact more apparent than in the cover art of several classic heavy metal albums of the 1980's -- a virtual hotbed of poorly-drawn appendages. Bands who weren't lucky enough to be friends with Pushead or well-funded enough to have covers by Ed Repka had to settle for what they could get, which was usually a hastily-drawn picture by a friend of the band, often etched out in watercolors or even Crayola markers.
Take, for example, the following batch of album covers. While this list is by no means complete, it should give you a pretty good idea of how difficult drawing a human hand actually is, especially for the Cro-Magnon types who listened to metal in the mid-80's.
ARTILLERY - TERROR SQUAD (1987)
Like I mentioned before, some bands resorted to using colored markers for their cover art. Look close, it's fairly obvious. In fact, it appears that Artillery's buddy (or whoever drew this thing) only started coloring this one with markers, giving up about halfway through due to possible time or budget constraints.
But we're here to talk about shitty HANDS, which Terror Squad has in spades. First off, get a load of the hand with the pointy finger (above left). Obviously, there are some MAJOR perspective issues here, and the thumb seems to be broken in a couple places. But the syringe hand (above right) has even BIGGER issues. Look at how much distance there is between this guy's fisrt and second knuckles. It's insane! And his thumb? Jeez, I don't even know where to start.
But my favorite hand is the one at the top right of the album cover. It's a real shame that this particular hand is cut off at the top of the cover, leaving its full potential unrealized. This is by far one of the greatest depictions of the human hand to EVER grace an album cover, and Artillery must be given credit for their grasp of at least ONE important factor in the entertainment business: ALWAYS LEAVE YOUR FANS WANTING MORE.
PANTERA - METAL MAGIG (1983)
Yeah, I know that I've written about Metal Magic at length in the past, but no discussion of poorly-drawn hands on metal album covers in the 80's would be complete without a quick reference to this old classic. While the chubby, out-of-proportion hands on this anatomically-incorrect tiger/warrior/Thundercat aren't terribly drawn, it's the extended pinkies I must take issue with. Extended pinkies aren't "metal" at all. Magic, maybe. But not metal.
ANTHRAX - FISTFUL OF METAL (1984)
While I AM in favor of the chainmail-and-spike-clad depiction of the fist emerging from this guy's mouth (he is obviously NOT METAL), I must call attention to the concave nature of the area between the second and third knuckles on the middle finger. This is, quite simply, incorrect, and unacceptable on an album cover.
Also, what's up with the hand on top of the guy's head (below)? Are the fingers actually penetrating his skull? If so, wouldn't there be some blood? Something about this rendering implies otherwise, though. The hand seems to be clutching his hair in an almost GENTLE manner, as if it were administering a relaxing scalp massage. This seems diametrically opposed to the activities of the "fist", which leads one to wonder: Do both of these hands belong to the same person? What EXACTLY is going on here?
SUICIDAL TENDENCIES - JOIN THE ARMY (1987)
Why are the Join The Army guy's fingers so wrinkly and skinny? He seems to be in pretty damn good shape otherwise (as evidenced by the criss-crossing veins on his right bicep). He has hands like the Cryptkeeper, too long and too large at the knuckles. Arthritic, almost. And the pointy finger's proximity to his creepy nipple doesn't help, either.
METALLICA - MASTER OF PUPPETS (1986)
I can't prove it, but something tells me that Metallica hired the same guy who drew the infamous "Metal Up Your Ass" graphic (right) to draw the cover of Master of Puppets. Case in point: Where is the rest of the handle on that knife? And why is it angled like that? The artist wasn't paying much attention to detail here, and neither was the artist on Puppets.
For example: Most people know that the middle finger is traditionally the longest finger on the hand. This is not the case on Master of Puppets, as both the ring finger AND the pinkie seem to have it beat on distance. And where are the knuckles? Those things look like Jimmy Dean sausages, not FINGERS.
Whatever, Metallica. Whatever.
KREATOR - FLAG OF HATE (1986)
Quite possibly the grand-daddy of all poorly-drawn hands is the one holding a flag aloft on the cover of Kreator's Flag of Hate EP. The palm-to-finger size ratio is completely baffling, causing it to appear that maybe E.T. is thrusting Kreator's banner skyward. Again, a complete lack of knuckles whatsoever, and the "blood" splattered on it looks more like a rash.
But the worst part is that Kreator made this abomonation the CENTRAL FOCUS of the artwork, like they're really PROUD of it. They were pumping out some really awesome cover art around the same time. What happened here?
HONORABLE MENTION: FIREAXE - VICTORY OR DEATH (BEST-OF COMPILATION, 2003)
Okay, so it's not 80's. But Fireaxe's Victory or Death features some really bad hand-art that needed to be included here. The gauntleted, rainbow-colored hand on the top right is just SO BAD that they had to cover up the one on the left with a band logo, just to avoid visual overload. Epic.
Oh, and by the way: Did you know that Fireaxe is a one-man power metal band from Chula Vista, CA, whose sole member is balding shredder Brian Voth (below)? Brian, much like his forward-thinking peers Trent Reznor and Radiohead, has turned the music industry on its ear by releasing his albums as public domain, meaning that ANYONE can get his stuff FOR FREE! This cunning "fuck you" to the record companies has earned Mr. Voth a permanent spot in the annals of heavy metal history, and Fireaxe will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most challenging, groundbreaking, and visually compelling bands of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Let's give Brian A HAND!