Welcome to Big Dumb Skulls.
This all began as a simple curiosity: how many metal bands have taken great care to write and record their music, only to slap a big dumb skull on the album cover? This always seemed like a last-minute “whatever” sort of decision to me, and metal is anything but a “whatever” sort of genre. Thus I felt troubled.
I first thought of Krokus’s Headhunter, Sword’s Sweet Dreams and Mercyful Fate’s Time when musing upon this one day (one extraordinarily dull day, apparently). These are decent to very good albums, but they’re cursed with an artwork concept that probably took all of three seconds to conceptualize. I socked those covers into a folder with a few others that came quickly to mind. I didn’t know what purpose any of this would serve, beyond occasional self-amusement. But in short time I gathered images of other skull-laden album covers, and suddenly I had over 100 of them. Still, what was I going to do with them?
I decided to spread the curse. I knew my friend Matt Johnsen would appreciate this little hall of skulls that I’d curated, and I began by emailing him one cover daily with the subject line “A Skull a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.” “A Skull a Day” has now gone on for several years and counting. We currently have hundreds upon hundreds of skulls in the Skullection. It’s totally unbelievable. We stumble upon new ones every week. And the criteria are pretty stiff for a skull’s inclusion: It must be a metal band (if we opened ourselves to punk and rockabilly, we’d be here all eternity). Nothing too fancy, nothing too oblique, nothing too busy. No multiple skulls. No animal skulls. No piles of skulls. Just one skull. One big dumb fucking skull. And there are SO MANY of them. The Skullection has grown to an audaciously ridiculous size.
Friar Johnsen began helping collect and curate, and when we are in deadlock about the worthiness of a skull cover, we consult the Council of the Elders of the Skull. They are a nine-man cabal nestled in an underground bunker somewhere in Luxembourg. Or maybe it’s Malta. We aren’t sure. But we call upon their wisdom only in the most trying of cases, and they have proven their wisdom time and time again.
Both Friar Johnsen and myself are long-time metal enthusiasts. We love it. A lot of it, anyway. This site is in no way meant to demean the genre, but part of the fun of metal is how dumb it can get if its practitioners aren’t careful. As that great line from This is Spinal Tap goes: “it’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.” That’s metal for you. And the skull is a metal motif to be respected; it’s as intertwined with the metal image as spikes, leather jackets and upside down crosses. Still, we can only stomach so much cliché before it crosses the wrong side of the stupid/clever line.
Join us for the daily unveiling of each new skull cover. We’ll take a look at the artwork and give a quick review of the music. How does the skull art correlate with the music? Is it an accurate representation of the music? Is it laziness in both musical and artistic execution? Hell, some of these covers are truly GREAT, but most of them are dumb. Big and dumb. So here you have: BIG…DUMB…SKULLS!!!
Jeff Wagner (henceforth known as Friar Wagner)