Good article on recent development in cover design for Metal albums. Sample:
by Alan Rapp at Print website
Those "heavy metal" bands that debuted during that first palmy MTV generation sound like nontoxic pop compared to today’s vast offerings of subaltern metal genres, where intricate is the new heavy, and glacially slow is far more radical than hyperfast. Metal has evolved in such diverse directions—drawing from and crossing over with punk, math rock, noise, and avant-garde musical threads—that perhaps the real surprise is how audiences who never thought of themselves as metalheads are now exploring bands with names like Baroness, Gojira, Isis, and SUNN O))).
Detail from the 2009 Isis album Wavering Radiant
Heavy metal has evolved visually as well. Gone are the fantasy illustrations of radioactive zombies and band logos composed of overlapping swords. After a generation of sprouting subgenres, the heavy metal field is littered with a diversity of styles that even the most hardy metalhead will have trouble encompassing. As Ian Christe, author of Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal and publisher of the metal-oriented press Bazillion Points says, "Heavy metal design is not a monolithic form at all. You have everything from junior high school kids in Iowa drawing skulls and pentagrams and band logos to Norwegian design houses making skulls and pentagrams and band logos. There are all levels of sophistication and intention—and execution."