I always have the greatest respect for artists who provide innovative pieces for bands to use on their album covers. In the past I have looked at the works of Storm Thorgerson and Jeff Jordan, but today I turn my attention to the artist most famous for designing the creatures in the Alien franchise: H. R. Giger. His typical work involves amalgamating mechanical images with the very human theme of erotica. He described his hybrid creations as ‘biomechanical’ and inadvertently created a style that would become replicated by many artists and designers over the world. Sadly H. R. Giger passed away last week, on the 12th of May, so to celebrate his work, here are four of his most extraordinary pieces commissioned for musical artists.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Although I personally dislike the music of ELP and its associated permutations, Giger’s artwork for their fourth release, Brain Salad Surgery, is fantastic. The piece is symbolic of fellatio, just like the album’s title and combines these ideas with the typical mechanical style that features so vastly across his work. The art was considered extremely shocking, whilst the physical album was praised for its design; the cover opened like a gate, revealing the human-like woman from beneath the industrial exoskeleton.
Like Brain Salad Surgery, the cover for Debbie Harry’s Koo Koo was featured on Rolling Stone’s top 100 album covers of the century. It’s not hard to see why, the image of Debbie Harry with four needles (each one representing one of the four traditional elements) thread through her face is strangely disturbing and not easy to forget. Debbie Harry is the name under which the lead singer of the band Blondie performed her solo material, and although this music is far removed from metal, you’d be excused for thinking the album’s contents is much heavier than it actually is.
Giger’s artistic input to music extends further than just album art. One of his most iconic works is the metallic sculpture of a biomechanical woman that doubles up as a microphone stand, which has been abused by Korn’s frontman Jonathan Davis for over a decade. The stand has become an iconic symbol for Korn’s live performances and is one of Giger’s most recognisable sculptures.
Giger’s work tended to be controversial due to the extended use of genitalia, but on the Swiss death metal band’s second album, To Mega Therion, it was his portrayal of Christ being used as a slingshot in the hands of Satan that offended. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting partnership than Celtic Frost and H. R. Giger, so it comes as no surprise that the album went on to be a great inspiration, both musically and visually, for the still growing genres of black and death metal.
R.I.P. H. R. Giger 1940 – 2014
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