2019 Award Nominations: Best Album Art ft. A&P Reacts

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Welcome to the 2019 Musicalypse Award Nominations! It is our second year after having changed our Award system over to the staff vote, and to shake things up, this year we’ve invited A&P Reacts to join us in the nominating and voting for the best of 2019. Check out our choices for the Best Album Art of 2019!

Scroll through the nominations here, and read about our choices down below:

1. Avantasia – Moonglow
2. Leprous – Pitfalls
3. Cellar Darling – The Spell

Avantasia was one of my earliest picks for a potential nominee of the year with Moonglow. I know this art style isn’t quite universally popular, but I love the dark undertones mixed with innocent themes and the rich colors. There’s a lot to look at, and the deeper you look into the picture the more you start to see in it. It’s the sort of art I would actually splurge on and buy in flag format to hang on my wall.

The album art for Pitfalls took a while to catch my attention, but the light foggy gloom mixed with the simple tranquility makes for a beautiful ambiance that perfectly matches the sound of Leprous‘ new album. The little person with the instrument in the bottom left completely changes the feel for the art when you notice them, which adds quite a lot to the overall feeling of the image.

Finally, The Spell by Cellar Darling has gone all-in with Costin Chioreanu‘s art and this strange, vaguely disturbing, and rather surreal piece well-depicts the album’s story and makes for one of the most dramatic and interesting album covers of the year.

Honorable mention(s): Swallow the Sun – When a Shadow is Forced into the Light; Everfrost – Winterider; Blind Guardian: Twilight Orchestra – Legacy of the Dark Lands; Silver Bullet – Mooncult

1. Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas
2. Hour of Penance – Misotheism
3. Swallow the Sun – When a Shadow is Forced into the Light

This is pretty open-and-shut. The cover of Cattle Decapitation‘s Death Atlas is so good it became the subject of a meme as Soundcloud rapper Teddy YG stole the design (logo and all) for his own World on My Shoulders. In all seriousness, though, it’s a really cool cover. In Greek mythology, the Titan, Atlas, is tasked to hold up the Earth. Logically Death Atlas is a skeleton holding up a dead Earth. It’s grainy and depressing while being brutal and epic.

We’ve seen this before, but I just can’t resist Lovecraftian horror. The cover art for Misotheism by Hour of Penance has that in spades. The otherworldly color-scheme, the thick and spooky atmosphere – it has everything. Misotheism meaning hatred towards gods, this hellscape of unfathomable evil beings puts the listener in the right state of mind.

This third nomination was a toss-up between Swallow the Sun and Belzebubs. Both had really gorgeous, high contrast, comic book-inspired artworks. In the end I went with StS because of the gold-on-black aesthetic. It seems to tell a story: The noticeably exhausted pagan figure stares into the tumultuous sea before him. He no longer has the strength to raise his sword. He has laid down his arms. He is ready to jump into the unknown.

1. Soen – Lotus
2. Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
3. Ray Alder – What the Water Wants

I like how Wriliya‘s cover art for Soen’s Lotus is simplistic on the surface, but its symbolism can be interpreted in so many different ways. I doubt the pyramid with the eye has anything to do with the Illuminati (sorry, Alex Jones!), but to me the moons represent the duality of life, and the full moon with both light and dark sides could also be seen as a visualization of the eternal “half empty vs. half full” debate: do we choose to lament what we don’t have or embrace what is there already?

Opeth’s In Cauda Venenum artwork brings back some of the autumnal Gothic atmosphere of the Swedes’ classic album covers (just like the music does), and Travis Smith’s eye for detail is amazing as usual. However, it gets a more eerie twist when you look at the full version, where the house is on a demon’s tongue, ready to be swallowed. The people are oblivious to their impending doom, and this unexpected bad ending is a cool representation of the Latin album title, which means “the poison is in the tail” in English.

Ray Alder’s What the Water Wants has an aesthetically pleasant cover with beautiful colors created by his wife, Cecilia Garrido Stratta. The red drops amidst all the blue also tie in to the lyrics of the almost title-track of the album, and the lyric video for it offers a closer look at the cover artwork, which is cool.

1. Sabaton – The Great War
2. Everfrost – Winterider
3. Avantasia – Moonglow

Sabaton‘s new album, The Great War, has a lot going on on its cover. It might seem busy at first but the closer you look, the more the horrors of war come to light in the skull imagery, blood, smoke, and fire. It’s a touchy subject, talking about World War I, but they do a nice job of showing how a single person suffers in the gears of war.

I’m an anime guy, so of course Everfrost is on my list. The cover of Winterider makes me ask questions: what’s happening? Who is this mysterious horseman? Why is he pulling the girls away? What are his motives? What led to this moment and where will it go? It evokes a lot of curiosity about what is to be found within the covers.

Moonglow by Avantasia is one of the prettiest albums of the year with its mysterious atmosphere mixed with swirls of youthful fantasy, and appears to hold a grand tale within that invites you to step inside and experience. There’s a lot going on and the color scheme is beautiful. Like Bear said, there’s a lot to see as well.

1. Ghost – Seven Inches of Satanic Panic EP
2. Disillusion – The Liberation
3. Killswitch Engage – Atonement

… [the album covers appeared in the lake’s reflection]

A&P Reacts:
1. Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas
This album art while spectacular also merges to perfection with the overall concept of the record. Adding another layer to a very complex record.

2. Fleshgod Apocalypse – Veleno
From the Italian giants comes a piece of a art that Leonardo Da Vinci would be proud of. The artwork is the perfect partner to an album that could easily be a piece of art from the Renaissance.

3. 1914 – The Blind Leading the Blind
The album cover is not only a perfect depiction of the album but of what WWI was all about. The cover gives you a glimpse into what the album will hold, musically and emotionally.