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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Metal Louvre: Black Sabbath - Mob Rules



The Hildebrandt brothers are best-known for sculpting fanstastical otherworlds in their art, or they frequently utilize a calliope color scheme to their subjects, which are likewise drawn from the realms of fantasy and science fiction. From fairy tales to Star Wars, the Hildebrandts have left a sleek, colorful imprint upon their paintings, turning their Metropolis and German industrial spirited constructs into self-contained worlds of fabulous.

Lest we forget Greg Hildebrandt's chilling artwork for Black Sabbath's Mob Rules. As one of Sabbath's heaviest albums, it's appropriate the artwork is expressively brutal, much as many of the songs are inherently thus. The synth tone strikes on "5150" alone seem to activate the flogging horror depicted on the Mob Rules cover. Is it the bloody tarp, the brandished whips or the fact this peasant-garbed execution squad are faceless which makes Hildebrandt's mini-apocalypse the most fearsome?

For me, it's the unknown; what did their victims look like after receiving this brand of street justice by ghouls? Were they mauled to death or simply humiliated and brought down in spirit? Were they upper crust or commoners? Worse, is there a trail of carnage hinted by the mind's eye and were they left earthside to rot or given proper burial?

You be the judge. All I know is the first time I saw this album in a Kmart at age ten when Mob Rules was released, I was scared out of my mind, much like that frightening robot assassin on Queen's News of the World, which was actually depicted by Frank Kelly Freas as having child-like "What did I do wrong?" traits. Hard to receive the intent at a young age with Queen, and that image was actually tweaked from a similar painting Freas did for Astounding Science Fiction, but there's no question about it with Mob Rules. It's scary as shit and intended thus.

6 comments:

James said...

Great post! I've always found this to be one of the creepiest album covers of all time.

I actually got mine signed a few years back (at a sci-fi/fantasy/horror convention), which of course was super-cool. When I asked the artists what inspired it, if there was some disturbing story behind it, they told me it was simply a horrifying dream one of them had . . . .

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

That's a cool story, James, thanks for sharing. Never met the Hildebrandts, but my wife was collecting their trading cards of their safer fantasy art and when I showed her this, she grumbled at me like I was a buzzkill. :)

Metal Mark said...

Great cover. Even the background is fantastic. I used to stare at this cover at Sound Waves. The album was released in late 1981 so you would have been eleven when it came out.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Yeah, 11, and it still scared the shit out of me then. Definitely one of the true masterworks of the genre, inside and out.

Anonymous said...

Cover by Greg Hildebrandt. The title is "Dream 1". Excellent.

Anonymous said...

http://www.bunnweb.org/hildebrandt-art/art/greg/dream.htm