2012-11-14

Graphic booklet and CD-mysteries, part 1. (0-A)

I though it was time for a new section here on Metal Monuments and because of a serious lack of imagination, this section will just be called "Graphic booklet and CD-mysteries" even though there might not be any real mysteries all times.
So this is basically where I go through my own CD-collection and take some photos of stuff that I consider weird, ugly, beautiful or just has to be dissected in one way or the other. I will try to focus more on the actual booklets, because there are tons of lists out there with just ugly album covers (although that's certain come up here as well). In other words, there wont be any vinyl-albums discussed here, nor will there be anything from In Flames or Opeth, because I don't own albums by those bands. I will more or less go through CD's random and see if there's anything interesting to be said about them.
I have a feeling these posts are going to be really looong (and graphically heavy) so I will divide it into smaller parts. First up we have part 0-A, which will be followed by B-C and so on. Not that difficult to understand is it?
Oh, and be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge them. And if you feel you should need further instructions, please click here.

First off, there have always been problems when it comes to deciphering the lyrics in booklets that we're printed before the new millennium. Some bands badly wanted to have a certain color on their font (which of course either was printed in Old English or some pseudo-gothic crap font such as Adine Kirnberg or something similar. Ok, so the picture below might not be of the best quality, but it's not very far from how the actual booklet looks. Do me a favor and try to read the lyrics that were so cleverly printed on top of the band-photos (with lots of white spaces and branches to interfere) to 3rd & the Mortal's debut album "Tears Laid in Earth" (1994).
Not that easy is it? Also, why is it that almost each and every band from Norway has to have at least one band member called Rune? Is it a mandatory rule or something? It's like every second man from Gothenburg is named Glenn god damn it...

And while, we're on the subject of 3rd & the Mortal, a certain something in the thank-you-list - or in this case, the "deeply respects"-list - made me raise an eyebrow or two.
Is that a sexual remark? I'm speechless...
So you would think that things changed once the new millennium arrived and every retard with a computer could easily get a hold of Photoshop? Well, not quite. Sure, the problems that we saw in the example above might have been reduced, but it's still there. But instead we got a new problem - namely that so many bands felt that they could be more artsy with this "new" technology and really space things out.
Well, here's what I think; When people start buying less and less physical copies of your albums, don't start fucking out with the layout and stuff. Instead, really make an effort and include everything from lyrics to liner notes and thank-you-lists. Because I think I speak for all of us that still buy CD's when I say that that's what we actually want from a physical copy. Not just two sheets of paper, undecipherable lyrics and close-up pictures of instruments dammit!
A good example of unreadable lyrics due to this "artsy-fartsy madness" can be found on almost any of the latter albums from Anathema. Here's a choice cut from "A Fine Day to Exit" (2001):
"We've just handwritten some parts of the lyrics to seem more special and to really show that we distance ourselves from the metal-genre alltogether". Yeah, way to go dudes! Sigh...

And don't get me started on black metal-booklets. The preferred font for the lyrics here is of course Old English, preferably written in all capitals so that it's near impossible to read anything. Or you could do like Shamataee of Arckanum and write it in some home-made fashion. And then add the fact that all of his lyrics are either written in old-Swedish or some weird combo of Swedish and Icelandic and we really have a problem. The example below is from "Fran Marder" (1995).

So let us leave the unreadable-lyric-section for a while and go further into some booklet and CD-mysteries. But let's not leave Anathema just yet. The band had both decent and really good covers up till "Alternative 4" (1998) when all things went to hell. Sure, the band changed direction musically and I guess that they wanted to show that graphically as well. While the idea for a combination of an astronaut/angel figure on the front wasn't a bad idea in theory - the result is a disaster of colossal properties:
But it wasn't really the cover that I wanted to dissect here. Inside, the booklet is really scarce and saved from overused graphical content. The album is really stripped down compared to earlier releases and that direction really fits the booklet as well. But I wonder exactly what went through the member's heads when they decided to use this picture in the booklet:
Honestly - couldn't this band member at least have shaved properly before taking an extreme close-up photograph of the man's face!? The picture is beyond disgusting, yet my eyes are always drawn to those two lonely mustache-threads just hanging there, each time I flip through the booklet.

Moving on to something completely different. We're still dealing with Anathema, but this time the blame is entirely on the record company. You see, I happen to own the copy of "Serenades" (1993) that includes "The Crestfallen EP" (1992) as well. And that is something that Music for Nations never lets me forget each time I pick up the album.
Now, I happen to belong to the group that absolutely adores the original cover to "Serenades". I think it's a real piece of art - honestly! But then Music for Nations did this fucking thing! Nowadays, the record companies usually puts a sticker or something like that on the actual casing. But not this time, no... Instead they decided to print this wonderful message ON the actual booklet. Stupid if I've ever seen it.

Now it is time to move along to the section that I'd like to call "computerized-millennium crap" (or something like that). You know, when bands feel like it's time to "space out" things and make as much unnecessary graphics which as much colors and crap on it as possible. Arcturus are notorious for this. The covers and booklets for "La Masquerade Infernale" (1997) and "Sideshow Symphonies" (2005) were alright, but the rest is pure horror to the eyes.
First out is the re-issue of the band's debut album "Aspera Hiems Symfonia" (1995) which have been "upgraded" with the EP's "My Angel" (1991) and "Constellation" (1994). The actual CD is one of the ugliest things I've seen, but what I really am most confused about is the deal with two CD's.
I mean, there's 8 songs on the first CD - but the names of all 3 albums written on it - and then we have track 9-16 on the second one. What's up with that? Why not write the title of the first actual album on the first CD and then write "Constellation & My Angel" on the second one? Also, what's the point of including track 12 at all? I mean, it actually says on the tracklist that it's them same as track 2, but with a different title. Just because it was originally called "Icebound Streams and Vapours Grey"? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

And then let's look at this piece of "art" from "The Sham Mirrors" (2002). I honestly ask what the point of it all is? Of course one has to fill a booklet and not all graphics might be "necessary" so to speak. But this is just bordering on the retarded. 
Three pages of absolutely nothing? You bet!
And the sad part is that basically the entire booklet of their awful remix-album "Disguised Masters" (1999) pretty much looks the same but with more white added to the mix.

Okay, so that became a little more than I originally had thought. Not sure if it's an interesting/funny read either. Please comment if you think that this entire thing was a big fail on my part. If not, the next time I will be going through B and C in my CD-collection. I'm sure there will be some Borknagar-breakdowns and some Candlemass-craziness.

1 comment:

  1. LOL Henrik! Very nice post!

    I've always think the same about the face from Alternative 4... :D

    By the way, I am a little bit curious about what you think about La Masquerade Infernale CD, I mean the phisically CD.

    At least, I own a copy that seems press at home...

    ReplyDelete