Cover Versions: The 20 best H.R. Giger record sleeves

Cover Versions: The 20 best H.R. Giger record sleeves

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To mark the passing of Swiss artist and record cover designer H.R. Giger who died earlier this week, we look back at 20 of his most iconic sleeves.

Immortalised in in Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi epic Alien for which he and his team won an academy award, Hans Rudolf Giger’s robo-organic (or as he called them, ‘biomechanical’) hybrids have placed him among the most instantly recognisable artists of his generation.

Yet in his extensive work as a cover artist for psych, prog and metal bands with whom his thrilling aesthetic fitted like a spikey metal face mask, there can be few artists whose sleeve designs have so polarised reaction from the establishment. On the one hand, his best known works – the humanoid Debby Harry adorning her 1981 breakaway album KooKoo and Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Brain Salad Surgery – both appear in Rolling Stones magazine’s top 100 album covers list, while on the other, perhaps his most infamous – the heavily censored poster insert to The Dead Kennedys’ Frankenchrist – landed Jello Biafra in court and all but bankrupted his Alternative Tentacles imprint in the process.

‘Penis Landscape’ (as the poster was playfully titled) aside, H.R. Giger was a firm favourite in prog and metal circles, penning covers for the likes of Carcass, Magma, Danzig and Celtic Frost, alongside hoards of bands with album titles like Corpse Grinder, Recesses For The Deceased and Preapocalyptic Visions. And it’s not hard to see why. His were intricately detailed visions of nightmarish futures in which the organic and the mechanical were destined to be fused in violent, often absurd ways. Speaking to Starlog magazine in 1979, he was typically candid about his biggest fans: “My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy. A good many people think as I do. If they like my work they are creative… or they are crazy.”

Treading the thin line between the creative and the crazy, you can scroll down to see our pick of H.R. Giger’s 20 best record sleeves.


walpurgis

The Shiver
Walpurgis
(Maris Musik, 1969)


emerson lake and palmer_brain salad surgery

Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Brain Salad Surgery
(Manticore Records, 1973)


island_pictures

Island
Pictures
(Round Records, 1977)


Magma___Attahk

Magma
Attahk
(Arabella, 1978)


biomechanoid_joel Vandroogenbroeck

Joel Vandroogenbroeck
Biomechanoïd
(Coloursound Library, 1980)


Debby Harrt_kooKoo

Debbie Harry
KooKoo
(Chrysalis, 1981)


frankenchrist

The Dead Kennedys
Frankenchrist (poster)
(Alternative Tentacles, 1985)


celtic frost - to mega therion

Celtic Frost
To Mega Therion
(Noise, 1985)


DIGITAL CAMERA

Pankow
Freiheit Für Die Sklaven
(Contempo Records, 1987)


atrocity_hallucinations

Atrocity
Hallucinations
(Nuclear Blast, 1990)


big satan inc_jezegrind

Big Satan, Inc.
Jezegrind 7″
(Over and Out, 1991)


Danzig_Dirty Black Summer

Danzig
Dirty Black Summer
(Def American Recordings, 1992)


danzig iii_how the gods kill

Danzig
Danzig III: How The Gods Kill
(Def American Recordings, 1992)


carcass_heartwork

Carcass
Heartwork
(Earache Records, 1993)


sacred sin_darkside

Sacred Sin
Darkside
(Musica Alternativa, 1993)


hide your face_hide

Hide
Hide Your Face
(MCA Records, 1994)


drowning room_the divinity syndrome

Drowning Room
The Divinity Syndrome 7″
(Trip Machine Laboratories, 1996)


hardmakz_striking wave

Hardmakz
Striking Wave Vol. 2
(Striking Wave Records, 2000)


biomechanik iii

Various Artists
Biomechanik III: The Final Chapter (LP Volume 2)
(46 Records, 2005)


triptykon_eparistera daimondes

Triptykon
Eparistera Daimones
(Century Media, 2010)