METAL LOGOS GET MORE & MORE EXTREME

So they’re making a ‘Lords Of Chaos’ movie? Looking at the IMDB feedback, black metal fans are less-than-happy. I don’t blame them. Extreme music fares poorly on celluloid, and with loyalist fans who’ve long been marginalised periodically spotlighted, often “ironically” before being ignored again, they’ve got a right to carry a chip on their black-clad shoulders.

Punk and hardcore have been mistreated – think the ‘Iron Skull’ Cro Mag rebrand in 1988’s ‘The Beat’ or more recently, the flawed ‘What We Do Is Secret’, yet black metal, surrounded by tales of mental church burners seemed to be, bar some sensationalist documentaries, left well alone. Plus, let’s be honest here, Horgh and team Immortal don’t need much assistance in looking pretty silly. Though one documentary appearance worthy of note is, in the otherwise dull ‘Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey’ where a beered up Necrobutcher, bassist for Mayhem, goes off on the critics, and pretty much anyone…

(7:10 in) “Who are they? Which one? Who the fuck are you talking to? Fuck them!”

Yet I’m not ready to hate on the ‘Lords Of Chaos’ film in its pre-production stage, just because the creative team behind it is far from your usual Hollywood pick – Hans Fjellestad, the man behind the fine ‘Moog’ documentary as a writer? Shion Sono, the director of the near four-hour ‘Love Exposure’ as a documentary? Shion’s displayed a sensitivity to marginalised figures throughout his career, and it’s clear we probably won’t see a Jonas Brother playing Varg Vikernes. Well, not until a studio head gets involved.

The new Pushead-curated Juxtapoz gives a shout to the master of gloomy black metal imagery, Kris Verwimp, who like so many of the masters of extreme metal logos, is a painter and illustrator of great intricacy too. Here, I’m lumping black and death together, despite obvious differences sound, topic and appearance, just because the logos tend to crossover visually. For black metal, blackletter fonts like Cloister Black (the black metal cliche typeface of choice), the deliberately distressed German Underground and Wilhelm Klingspor Gotisch encapsulate gothic themes, and have reinforced stereotypes of nationalism that, despite sensationalist accounts, are often untrue.

Me? As a poseur spectator, I’m fascinated by the ongoing quest to get band logos to new heights of extremedom. It’s an undisputed artform, and while I’m loathed to draw crude parallels, I’ll do it anyway – like graffiti, when the time came to up the ante, the artform went wildstyle. Some band names make themselves seen after a long squint. Others are lost amid the vines, thorns and spikes. But as with the folly of Brooklyn Kid, like a good handstyle, you can’t replicate a truly great metal band logo using a ready-made font. Waking The Cadaver, Triste and Min Kniv are fine examples of hard-to-read metal greatness.

Last year’s ‘Logos From Hell’ book, by the brilliant Mark Riddick , himself a force to be reckoned with when it comes to logos and lettering, showcased work from the likes of Irwan Azman Awang , Chilean artist Daniel Desecrator , Jon Zig,  Christophe Szpajdel, who was profiled in Vice, and is also the subject of another interview here,  who, for all his talent seems content to keep his prolific output borderline hobbyist, and Mike Majewski, whose logos for Condemned Remains are available on stickers named ‘legible’ and ‘brutal’ with brutal being the most hard-to-read and messed-up. I think the gist of death metal logos is to get the brutality levels up as high as possible, even if legibility is the first victim.

Here’s a good conversation on the metal aesthetic that contextualises some overlooked artists.

If you can’t hire the masters, it would seem that some Photoshop savvy can pay off. Witness the creation of Swine Horde’s logo as a YouTube tutorial.