AS I LAY DYING, Decas (2011, Metal Blade)

The skull:
I bet the young metalheads fresh out of art school feel like they’ve landed the perfect job when they’re hired into the design department at Metal Blade Records. And maybe one of them, on learning that he would be doing the cover for As I Lay Dying’s latest release, pitched some elaborate collage piece inspired by Boccaccio’s Decameron before Brian Slagel came in and swatted the stylus out of his Cintas hand and yelled, “What are you fucking talking about, nerd? This is just some bullshit compilation, and we’re already losing like 24 cents per on mechanicals. Pull a fucking skull from the junk box, photocopy it a couple dozen times, and put the fucking title on it. This isn’t the god damned Louvre and you ain’t Andy shitloving Warhol. And don’t EVEN come back asking to expense some fucking font. Go to one of those Russian sites and get one for free and quit bothering the grown ups! Jesus, don’t they teach you idiots anything in school, or do you spend all day drawing your mommies with crayons?”

The music:
Remember how, the last time I discussed As I Lay Dying, I said, ” I can also kind of appreciate in retrospect is the looseness of the entire album; the drums are clearly not quantized or triggered, and Lambesis had to more or less get his shit in tune before the mass adoption of Autotune, which lends the entire affair an almost organic feel”? Well, in the 8 years separating that album from this one, the band ceded 100% of that organic feel. The clean vocals are mercilessly tuned (“From Shapeless To Breakable” is a master class in unnatural autotuning), the drums sampled and time-aligned, and all the tones compressed into a narrow band centered on the chug note of whatever their low string is. Which is just to say, there is literally no way to tell As I Lay Dying from the thousands of other metalcore bands that labored night and day to completely ruin metal in the aughts. This disc is not an all new collection of tunes, though: it’s a contract-fulfilling way for the band to cut loose and show us how oldschool and really metal they are, by covering past-their-prime Slayer tunes (“War Ensemble”), done-to-death Judas Priest tunes (“Hellion/Electic Eye”) and the obligatory “check out how how diverse and cool our tastes are” tunes (“Coffee Mug,” by Descendents). Also: a dubstep remix. For fucking real. This is the perfect music for a cover so haphazardly thrown together, the ultimate expression of “pointless.”
— Friar Johnsen


BARE BONES, Defleshed (2008, self-released)

The skull:
To me, the best thing about this cover is how the font of the title is so similar to the logo of the band Defleshed. I wonder if Bare Bones even realizes they did that? They probably just subconsiously associate that typeface with the word, without questioning why. “We should call it ‘Defleshed.'” “Woah, yeah, like a bare bone man!” “Exactly.” Anyway, this is just a one color, photocopied skull, way short on teeth. It’s nice and big, unadorned and unobscured by text. I wonder if they were able to save money by using the same screen for the CD booklet and the shirt?

The music:
It seems like only yesterday, but in fact it was 290 days ago (to be exact) that I was last required to listen to this boring, entry-level Polish death metal band. Then, I was reviewing their first demo; now, I’m reviewing their second and last demo. To be brief: they didn’t get any better.
— Friar Johnsen