Since 1910 musicians have associated visual arts with their sonic output in the form of the almighty album cover. And since 1987, Roadrunner Records has been a source of some visually stunning and visually disturbing images in the wide world of album art, nevertheless honoring the tradition. Whether using an image to set the tone for what’s to follow on your speakers, or as a means of branding in forever associating a picture with a title, there is no question as to the power of the album cover -- which is why we took a look at every album released on Roadrunner Records US to find the greatest covers in our celebrated history. Voted on by our worldwide staff, showcasing the iconic vs. the blasphemous, the painted vs. the photographed, as well as the found art vs. the commissioned art, we give you the Ten Greatest Album Covers in Roadrunner History – one at a time. Feast your eyes on #10 below, and check back every day as we countdown to number one. Did your favorite RR release make the cut?
#10 King Diamond – Abigail
Released to critical acclaim in 1987, King Diamond’s premiere epic concept album Abigail really put the ex-Mercyful Fate frontman on the map with his namesake project. Showcasing the singer’s signature falsettos and brimming with metal theatrics, Abigail tells the ill-fated story of Miriam and Jonathan La’Fey, a couple inhabiting an old family mansion riddled with ghosts foreshadowing the return of the tempered soul of baby Abigail. But it’s the “Black Horsemen” that act as the main messengers, and thus grace the cover of this dark tale.
Says King Diamond of the painting, “It was commissioned specifically for the album. The [artists] read the story, read the lyrics and then from that came the cover. The horse-drawn carriage came from their drawings [and we thought] wow that could be a really cool motif because “Black Horsemen” is one of those main songs in that story. There were very little changes made before they started the painting; they could really visualize the story in a good way.”
As for the overall reaction, King recalls, “A lot of people heard us for the first time with that album , and (laughs) a lot of people told us they were scared when they heard the album; it gave them the creeps. And I guess the cover had a lot to do with that too. It certainly had that creepy, classic horror feel. The best thing about that is you can prepare the listener through the cover for what is coming when you start playing the music. Had it been a red and white Danish flag on the front, I don’t think the story and the music would come across in the same way, because it does something to it to look at that cover and start hearing music -- it puts you in a certain pre-mood. Then the music can live up to the cover and vice-versa and you have that nice combination where it just gels.“
As for why it’s our #10, we’ll let our Senior VP of A&R Monte Conner explain it further in this video. Listen in on the title-track of the album further below, and if you don't own this metal classic, get it at a special discount RIGHT HERE.
Go HERE to see our complete list of the Ten Greatest Album Covers in Roadrunner History.