Before the age of streaming and try-before-you-buy, visitors of record stores around the world had to content themselves with deciding whether the album was worth buying based on the artwork and song titles, or recommendations based on friends or certain family members. Nowhere was this more prevalent than with thrash metal, whose loud and vibrant album covers caught many young enthusiast’s attention.
Some might argue that this tradition of impressive album covers leading to parting with hard-earned cash continues to present day, and Loris Castiglia, vocalist and guitarist of Italian thrashers Ultra-Violence, is one of them. Here he counts down his Top 10 album covers of the band’s chosen genre – a varied list of beautiful artwork.
10. Artillery – Terror Squad (1987)
– This is a drawing by guitarist Jorgen Sandau, since their label at the time forced the band to realize a cover art without money. The result is a superb thrash metal album with one of the worst covers ever. But I love it and I love the DIY attitude in all this. I’ve been searching for a white shirt with this cover art on it for years and I’m gonna buy it as soon as I find it.
09. Angelus Apatrida – Hidden Evolution (2015)
– Shout out to my brothers in Angelus Apatrida. I love this band and this is their best cover art and album, in my opinion.
08. Nuclear Assault – Survive (1988)
– Classic, simple and direct. I love this one so much and I have an original t-shirt from the ‘80s that an old friend of mine bought at the Italian show of the Survive tour and gave it to me more than 20 years later.
07. Evile – Infected Nations (2009)
– This might my least favorite Evile album but the cover art looks amazing. I don’t know who the artist is, but it reminds me a lot of the Sepultura Arise cover art (editor: Michael Whelan, who drew both album covers).
06. Xentrix – For Whose Advantage? (1990)
– Pretty underrated band, I must say. I love their first two albums so much and this cover art is beautiful. I need to find a shirt with this art as well, but it’s not easy at all.
05. Annihilator – Never, Neverland (1990)
– Another amazing piece of art. The colours of the horizon are beautiful and I just love the mysterious feeling to it.
04. Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed (2013)
– Okay, they’re not exactly a thrash metal band, they’re more black/thrash, but I couldn’t leave them out of the list ‘cause their cover arts are wonderful. And it’s thanks to their logo and arts that I’ve started to listen to them, actually. So, a little piece of advice if you just started a band: a good cover art is very important and most of the times it’s the first thing you’re gonna see about a band and it needs to get you intrigued.
03. Anthrax – Among the Living (1987)
– This is my favourite Anthrax album/cover art. I remember the day I found out about Anthrax so well. I was on YouTube searching for metal music (I know it sounds sad, but I’m a pretty young guy so YouTube was already popular when I was a kid) and I had this band name stuck in my head. So I typed it and the first result was a video with this cover art and the song “A Skeleton In The Closet”. I loved it so much that Anthrax became my favourite band for the following two years at least.
02. Megadeth – Rust in Peace (1990)
– Best Ed Repka cover art ever, in my opinion. I think it’s impossible to find a thrash metal fan who doesn’t like this one. (Sidenote – Repka also designed the cover of Ultra-Violence’s new album, see below for details.)
01. Testament – Dark Roots of Earth (2012)
– This is my personal favourite. I love Eliran Kantor works and I think this one is his best cover art. Awesome, glorious, magnificent. Look at all the little details, it’s amazing. I love Practice What You Preach as well, but Dark Roots of Earth is just the best.
Well, there it is: ten of the most amazing thrash album covers curated by one of modern thrash’s torchbearers. You can check out Loris and Ultra-Violence on Facebook and/or pick up their new record Operation Misdirection via Candlelight/Spinefarm Records.
In the meantime, here’s Ultra-Violence’s slick video for “Cadaver Decomposition Island”.