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Monday, September 13, 2010

Metal Louvre: Steppenwolf 7

By today's standards, Steppenwolf 7 comes off somewhat primitive in execution with what is hypothetically a superimposed group photo amidst a matte painting. Honestly, though? I'll take this over digitally-processed artwork any day.

No offense to the electronic medium since I am now dwelling closely within it, and there's certainly some astounding artwork being digitally-brushed and molded--Joachim Luetke being one of my favorite artistes of the form. Still, Steppenwolf 7 is a reminder of why psychedelic artwork--still being heavily favored in 1970 and beyond when this album was recorded--is an important era of figurative and expressive art.

It's like something emerged from a Ray Bradbury story as reimagined by the Haight. While the skulls are flipped mirror images of one another, there's something purely metal about their standoff at the painting's vanishing point, where the 3-D album logo and John Kay's head are in near-perfect diamond symmetry.

The desert mountain scape illustrated behind Steppenwolf looks straight out of a Hanna Barbara action series like Johnny Quest. However, the flaming skies lend those skulls even more eerie trippiness than if they were merely planted upon a pitch black canvas--a metal cliche decades later. Besides, there's very few skulls in metal artwork today which stand up to those floating about this space-dusty panorama. Juxtaposed against the orange-yellow hell-skies, this seems a distant cousin to Marvel Comics' Ghost Rider, wouldn't you agree?

Well-appropriate from the group who gave heavy metal its namesake.

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