Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The 10 Most Unreadable Metal Band Logos

Posted By on Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 9:08 AM

click to enlarge 35741_logo.jpg

Once upon a time, extreme metal bands opted to contort their logos into the most stylized mutations possible as a way to visually represent their music, and as a proud testament to the obscurity of their appeal. By now, it's all become a bad joke, and you're likelier to find the sludgiest doom crust ensemble representing themselves in simple Helvetica than in the arcane designs of old.

Still, as the fine fellows at Metal Sucks have already keenly observed, the illegible band logo is still a fairly healthy tradition. So let's look at 10 of the most insanely unreadable black metal logos -- several of which represent Bay Area bands -- to see what stories they might tell. (Hat tip to Metal-archives.com for hosting most of these logos.)

click to enlarge logo_1.jpg

10. Deathspell Omega

Granted, if you look at it a certain way, it looks like it says "Deathspew." But the irony is that our list's most legible logo belongs to its most inscrutable band. Deathspell Omega is a French occult black metal band that offers NO interviews, NO live engagements, NO self-portraits, and NO names to its rabidly devoted cult following. Go ahead: Attempt to find A THING about these guys' identities. Even the Internet has its limits.

click to enlarge logo_panopticon.jpg

9. Panopticon

Part of the ever-growing movement of bedroom black metal, Panopticon hails from Louisville, Kentucky. Despite its experimental leanings and the incorporation of bluegrass elements into its deeply excoriating music, Panopticon keeps it decidedly old school with a slightly scuffed, slightly ornate logo script. At long last, the stylized logo tells us something about the artist before we hear them. It has a semiotic power that works, even in an era where we don't have to judge album covers with our eyes only. Take the cover of Panopticon's latest, Kentucky:

click to enlarge panopticon_kentucky.jpg

The logo subverts the pastoral beauty, letting us know that while we're not just getting brutal black metal, we're not about to hear only Appalachian idyll, either. The two aesthetics discomfort one another, an effect that yields good art. That's about as high a recommendation as one can make for having a ridiculously over-stylized and very-hard-to-discern logo.

click to enlarge nachtmystium_logo.jpg

8. Nachtmystium

One of the reasons it's so hard to decipher most black metal band logos is they tend not to be words, but rather weird portmanteaus pulling from multiple dialects. Hence these Chicagoans, who've dubbed themselves something to the effect of "hidden night place."

click to enlarge mayhem_logo_big.jpg

7. Mayhem

Interesting to note that one of the founding fathers of black metal has one of the easiest to read logos, though a less-seasoned eye might still balk at it. Still, after years of controversy from within and without, it's probably just easier to have a somewhat readable logo at this point.

click to enlarge darkthrone_logo.jpg

6. Darkthrone

Equally influential black metal legends Darkthrone split the difference perfectly with this utterly unique and much-imitated splatter of a logo. It's got personality and about as high of a split-second recognition value as one can get in this genre.

Next: Descending into the blackest depths of illegibility

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

About The Author

Alee Karim

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • Giants World Series Parade 2014
    Crowds of Giants fans braved the rainy weather on Halloween day to watch the parade for the San Francisco Giants after their third World Series win in five years. Fans climbed trees, bus stop over-hangs, newspaper stands and anything else that they could manage to balance on. Photographs by Mike Hendrickson
  • King Diamond @ The Warfield
    King Diamond with Jess and The Ancient Ones performed last night at the Warfield on Thursday, October 30th. Photographs by Richard Haick.