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Dusty Peterson is one of those illustrators who really enjoys talking about their work. His level of enthusiasm is evident, especially when giving detailed explanations of his creative process, his technique, and the pieces of which he’s most proud. Even though to date this Seattle-based designer has produced artworks for Metal giants the likes of Six Feet Under, Bloodbath, and Cattle Decapitation, he still keeps exploring new creative paths that help him to become a more refined artist. PureGrainAudio recently had the opportunity to delve into Peterson’s mind and learn about his influences, sources of inspiration, the mechanics behind his creativity, and his overall experience working in the world of extreme music.

Without Judas Priest, Heavy Metal wouldn’t exist as we know it today. Their influence in the development of the genre has been well-documented thanks to their four decade-long career. The same can be said about the mostly iconic covers accompanying each of their album’s cover artworks. Whether they’re are portraying a fallen angel, a hand holding a razor blade, or an eagle ready to attack, the truth is that their impact on Metal aesthetics and popular culture in general is both undeniable and revolutionary.

After publishing more than 7,000 album reviews and 40 Rock/Metal-related books, Martin Popoff can easily be considered one of genre’s ultimate writers. The Toronto-based author has also professed on many occasions his love for the visual imagery used in Metal and Rock music. In fact, he’s already written several books about the subject, including “Run For Cover”, a look into Iron Maiden’s iconic illustrator Derek Riggs and “Worlds Away”, a book centered on the visuals created by Voivod’s drummer Michell “Away” Langevin.

Bristish illustrator Mark Wilkinson’s work has been adorning the cover sleeves of Rock and Metal albums for decades. His work for bands like Judas Priest and Marillion, as well as for posters for the Monster of Rock Festival, Star Wars movies, and book covers is widely recognized. His refined technique and unique fantastic visions have made of the artist a legend within the world of commercial illustration. To celebrate his career of more than 30 years, Wilkinson recently published the book “Shadowplay”, a recount of most of his work to date. In this interview the artist talks extensively about the new book, his influences, and his ongoing collaboration with artists such as Judas Priest and Marillion.

German visual artist Andreas Marschall is widely known as one of Metal’s quintessential illustrators, his works having adorned album covers for decades. Bands like Blind Guardian, Kreator, Sodom, and In Flames, among many others, owe Marschall big time for helping them to establish crucial aspects of their visual imagery. Over the last few years the artist has also been exploring another passion: film making. In fact, he recently premiered his second feature film, a horror/fantasy tour de force titled “Masks”, which is expected to arrive on North American shores soon. While promoting the film worldwide, we had the opportunity to talk with Marschall about the origins of his career, his vast body of work, and movie making.

In 2012, ten years into their career, California’s As I Lay Dying released their sixth studio album titled Awakened. With the help of legendary Black Flag drummer and producer Bill Stevenson, the group successfully refined their blend of Metalcore adding sudden slabs of neo-Thrash and occasional melodic catchiness. “We really needed to make sure that we are still progressing and showing that we’re only getting stronger with our sound. We’re always trying to throw in new elements and always expand our sound somewhat,” says long time guitarist Phil Sgrosso about the band’s mindset while recording the album. Indeed, tracks like the opener “Cauterize”, the frantic “A Greater Foundation” or the sonically dense “Overcome” only come to confirm that this is probably one of the quintet’s finest recorded efforts to date.

Despite the mainstream success and commercial appeal of Van Halen’s 1984, this mega-selling album was released with some accompanying controversial issues. For instance, though the album featured muscular Heavy Rock cuts such as “Panama” and “Hot For A Teacher”, it also proposed dramatic stylistic challenges in the keyboard-oriented hit singles “Jump” and “I‘ll Wait”. Additionally, the cover sleeve depicting a little angel smoking a cigarette while naughtily smiling was indeed, a polemical subject, even though it never caused major issues for the quartet’s successful career.

This is the second part to our “A Guide to (some of) the Best Metal Album Covers of 2012” posting last week. As we know, cover artwork was a big thing for Metal music in 2012. Many of them were epic, cryptic, nightmarish and more importantly, artfully executed. They helped to both enrich many listeners’ imaginations and to enhance the music itself; and this is why we’re covering them! In the second part to our guide, we keep exploring the stories behind some of these magnificent visual pieces. We’ve interviewed some of the designers and musicians involved with said art and they in turn opened for us new worlds of imagination an awe. Check it out!

As far as Metal music goes 2012 was one of the most interesting years in a long time. Masterful albums such as Sigh’s In Somniphobia, Ihsahn’s Eremita, Enslaved’s Riitiir, Katatonia’s Dead End Kings, among many others, kept the quality and innovative spirit on the genre at supremely high levels. Cover artworks were also a big thing. They went from being epic (Testament), to nightmarish (Sigh), and even to minimalist (Ihsahn). Most importantly though, they helped to enhance the music and general aura of each album while introducing fans to new worlds where the power of imagination seems not to have limits. Through 2012 PureGrainAudio interviewed some of the designers and musicians involved with the creation of some of these amazing cover artworks and what we learned was, as with the music itself, totally fascinating!

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!