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Veteran visual artist Paul Raymond Gregory seems to be one of the busiest personalities in the world of heavy Metal. The British painter and illustrator recently completed the cover artwork for Saxon’s upcoming album Sacrifice (his 12th for the band), as he continues producing large, detailed canvases based on Tolkien’s literary works. Also, he’s preparing the 2013 edition of the popular UK festival “Bloodstock Open Air”, a massive Heavy Metal gathering of bands and fans that Gregory helped to create more than 10 years ago. On top of all this, Gregory just published a book titled “Beyond Time And Place”. These glossy, 176 illustrated pages showcases the artist’s visual works and achievements over the past 35 years of his career. It includes most of his major Tolkien-inspired pieces and many artworks he has produced for bands such as Saxon, Dio, Molly Hatchet, and Blind Guardian among others. A true feast for the eyes, no doubt about it!

“To follow your own vision without compromising and conforming to other people’s demands and expectations would make you a king in what people would just define as a dead end”, says Katatonia’s guitarist Anders Nyström when referring to the title of the band’s ninth full-length album Dead End Kings. Despite being around for more than 20 years, these Swedish purveyors of heavy, gloomy soundscapes and dark, melancholic lyrics still keep pushing their own musical boundaries. “Stylistically”, Nyström acknowledges, “it continues where the last album Night Is The New Day ended, but once again we’ve tried to sharpen the sword in terms of performances and the sound. The rest is up to our listeners to discover….”

In many ways, Cynic’s 1993 debut full-length, Focus, was such a revolutionary recording that even by today’s standards it still sounds as current as ever. Its unparalleled uniqueness still produces amusement, especially among the legions of Progressive Metal enthusiasts. Could this album be the product of the musical maturity the young Floridian quartet found after recording their early demos? Was it maybe, the wizardry showcased by producer Scott Burns in one of his finest studio efforts ever? Or perhaps, could it be the result of a “butterfly effect”-like cosmic event happening on the other side of the galaxy? Whatever the case, the truth is that Focus rapidly became an instant musical landmark that established new standards within the world of extreme music. As founding member and guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal acknowledges: “We had something we were proud of. It succeeded and survived as a creative work and that’s really all that matters from an artistic standpoint. It also served the greater purpose of inspiring other musicians.”

This is it! Unlike our mix-up last week, we present with the fourth and final episode in our And Justice For Art mini series dubbed “Metal Artists’ All-Time Favorite Album Covers”. We’re ending it with a bang and bringing you fave covers from some of Metal’s big hitters. Grab a brew (alcoholic or non) and check out what these 10 metal musicians (including members Of Lamb Of God, Enslaved, Tombs and As I Lay Dying) had to say about album artwork that left them with a lasting impression.

Welcome to the third installment of “Metal Artists’ All-Time Favorite Album Covers”. While last week we were under the impression that this would be the final part of our mini-series, we realized that we actually had enough sick content, to bring you a fourth part! So sit back and relax, ’cause you still get to do this once more! For now, read on and see what members of Attika 7, Black Tusk, Phobia and Tragedy, among others, have to say about those album covers that forever changed their lives.

Everyone, metal musicians included (unless of course you are Devin Townsend), has a favorite album cover. At some point in their lives, these musicians have fallen in love with a particular cover art that has long-since resonated with them and in some cases, even influenced their very own musical careers. Bearing this in mind, we asked a handful of metal’s leading musicians one simple question: “What’s your all-time favorite Rock/Metal album artwork and why?” Well, most of the responses were very detailed and enthusiastic, yet for some this proved to be a difficult subject. Let’s see who they were and what they said….