Welcome back to the front line of the weird war, comrades! It's been a while since our last installment of Gross Anatomy and now that I've returned from my epic adventures abroad I've got a real live one for you. Hopefully by now you've all seen Joe Petagno's amazing new painting for Autopsy's forthcoming LP The Headless Ritual and hopefully you're as excited as me that one of the pioneers of death metal dooooooom are back from the grave. The only bummer about Autopsy reorganizing was the demise of Abscess, those underrated speed-sleaze-death-punks that churned out some of the most repulsive music of the past decade. But now you can rejoice because the freaks over at APHELION PRODUCTIONS have assembled a posthumous collection featuring all the songs from the band's various split releases plus unheard rehearsal demos and live recordings spanning their tenure in the sub-sewers of the underground. Somewhere Leech Boy is grinning from beneath a pile of festering excrement. The compilation is titled Bourbon, Blood and Butchery and your faithful scribe was once again called forth to provide the scatological visual accompaniment. Pour yourself a shot o' poison and let's crawl through the corridors of madness and parasites...
I imagine many records begin with a musician picking up a guitar in some quiet room and simply strumming the strings to see what happens. Sooner or later a mood is invoked, chords emerge, riffs take shape and lyrics appear as if somehow already written. Perhaps the technical aspects are refined a bit later and eventually a song is birthed. With any luck, it's a good song. My drawings are very similar in this regard. As you already know if you've been following these posts over the years, I generally begin the process of creating an album cover with empty-minded scribbling and this new one for Abscess was no exception. Lock the door, light a candle, grab an unpaid electricity bill off the kitchen table and start shoveling!
You never know exactly what you'll find lurking about in the shadowy corners of your unconscious. I ran into this thing. What the fuck is wrong with me?
Whoa! Hold on a minute. This guy's got potential. A dark cloud of inspiration is rolling in over my brain. From this sloppy scrawl- the kind of leering lunacy I've scribbled hundreds of times before- I can suddenly see clearly in what direction this drawing must proceed. Now, I know you fancy schmancy artistes, graphic designers and illustrators have very professional systems worked out whereby you consult with your client, exchange expectations, submit preliminary sketches and wait for editorial corrections and eventual approval. You probably have successful careers and are highly regarded by your peers. Good for you. I truly applaud your accomplishments and ambition. But that's not how I work. I've never submitted a preliminary sketch to anyone. Ever. My style of working is more like total immersion language lessons. Or black magic. Here's exactly how the consultation went down for this album cover...
Chris Reifert is underground royalty. He's a true artist without all the pretense and bullshit that usually accompanies such a designation. Have you read his lyrics lately? Poetry. Do you like death metal? He practically invented the template. Chris is a righteous brother and I'm honored to call him a friend. As a side note to any of you musician types who might be contemplating commissioning an artist to work on your next album cover, consider the profound potential of trusting the artist you choose and allowing them the freedom demonstrated in the brief exchange above. Good art is rarely democratic.
Pencil sketch on illustration board commences. No tracing. No light tables. No rulers. No class.
I suppose a lot of people probably don't take my work seriously because I draw with crude ballpoint pens and have a modus operandi as outlined above. But make no mistake, I take my work extremely seriously. Once the ink starts to flow the laughter ceases and I disappear for days at a time...
The actual process is a lot like watching moss grow on a rock- not exactly entertaining to behold, which is good since I only draw in complete solitude- but gradually the image starts to come into focus.
Textures emerge from the grey tones and details are worked over until the surface can barely withstand any more abuse.
In the end I titled this one Patient Zero's Lament, an homage to both the grinding Abscess classick and the brilliant High Tide ballad from 1969. "Someone fucked up somewhere, something went terribly wrong!" Indeed.
The CD is available now from APHELION PRODUCTIONS and the LP version will be released later in the year with additional back cover madness. Long live primitive death metal! Incidentally, as I worked on this installment of Gross Anatomy I found myself questioning the value of continuing a blog in 2013. It seems many of you don't bother exploring off the beaten path of "social networking" these days. That's a damn shame. If you're one of the bold ones who have actually read this far, I salute you. This post was written for YOU! Leave a comment so I know you were here.
Until next time...DRINK THE FILTH!!!!