The 5 most gruesome album covers, as chosen by Despised Icon

Despised Icon
(Image credit: Nuclear Blast)

As we've covered extensively elsewhere on this site, horror and metal are quite plainly a match made in hell. Blood, guts and gore have long played a role in shaping metal music – and vice versa – as the artwork on many a terrifying extreme metal album sleeve will attest.

To celebrate the fine art of gore and its place in heavy metal's history – and because, well, it's that time of year – here, Alex Erian of deathcore champs Despised Icon talks us through the five most gruesome album covers of all time. 

Cryptopsy - None So Vile (1996)


The album that got me into extreme music. While most bands were using apocalyptic sceneries for their album covers, Cryptopsy used this simple classic painting that stood out from the lot. A visual representation of Lord Worm's twisted mind and lyrics. This album cover directly inspired Despised Icon to go with an illustration for the new album cover.

Suffocation - Pierced From Within (1995)


The Effigy Of The Forgotten cover is a close second but the artwork for Pierced From Within always fucked with my head. I only did acid once in my life and the pavement on the streets started looking like that scary spiked pattern on the cover. Never again.

Gorguts - The Erosion Of Sanity (1993)


Dan Seagrave is one of my favorite illustrators in the scene. He's the man behind tons of classic Death Metal album covers. This piece he did for Gorguts back in the 90's is probably the one I like most. Bright and dark at the same time, a visual representation of all the chaos that can reside in one's mind.

Aborted - Goremageddon: The Saw and the Carnage Done (2003)


Met Sven from Aborted in Belgium in 2003 and toured with his band for the first time in 2005. Goremageddon... was out back then and Aborted was the first band I noticed that went for that retro-horror look. Since Sven was also the art director and graphic designer, we hired him to do the cover/layout for Despised Icon's re-issue of Consumed By Your Poison, our first album. He also collaborated with my friend Filion and I to create our infamous gold foil hoodie from the mid 2000s. 

Thy Art Is Murder - Dear Desolation (2017)


Such a powerful illustration and metaphor. Simplicity, depth, texture and perfect colour combinations is what drew me to Eliran Kantor's work. This painting he did for Thy Art is what steered us in his direction. Glad we got to team up with him for Despised Icon's new album artwork for Purgatory.

Despised Icon's new album, Purgatory, is out 15 November via Nuclear Blast and is available to preorder now.

Briony Edwards

Briony is the Editor in Chief of Louder and is in charge of sorting out who and what you see covered on the site. She started working with Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and Prog magazines back in 2015 and has been writing about music and entertainment in many guises since 2009. She is a big fan of cats, Husker Du and pizza.