Every once in a while there comes along a really new style in art and rock, goth and metal bands have often been the first to pick up on the new art and commission an artist to produce a cover for their latest album in that style. Very often the art is so associated with the band that more than one cover ends up being done with a similar style or even by the same artist. This was the first cover commissioned by Paradise Lost from artist Holly Wurburton but has some similarities to the style of Dave McKeane who did the earlier ‘Shades of God’ and ‘As I Die’ covers. It was also the last one in this style as they changed their style musically and artistically quite radically after this album.
Probably the earliest artist-band symbiosis and also the most long-lived one was that between landscape surrealist Roger Dean and the progressive rock band YES (although Roger Dean did plenty of covers for many other bands too).
If you are looking at the cover for Draconian Times above and puzzling over the names of Holly Wurburton and Dave McKeane and particularly wondering why the latter seems so familiar (possibly because you have been living on the planet Pluto for the last ten years or ended up on this blog by mistake whilst looking for knitting patterns) then Dave McKeane was the artistic genius behind the covers for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics and the designer for the incredible film Mirrormask. If you love McKeane’s art then you must see that film! It is to large extent Dave McKeane’s art come alive and it is wonderful to see his creatures come alive like that. Holly Warburton has had perhaps less involvement in the fantasy horror comic genre than Dave McKeane but has produced a fabulous array of fantastic art that you can see on her website.
Returning to the Draconian Times cover, the music, providing it is a genre you are into, is excellent. The first track Enchantment has the most incredible melody that seems so familiar that you feel you must have heard it before. No-one here has managed to figure out where it comes from if it is not original though. Any guesses? There was a large poster of the artwork of the Draconian Tiomes cover produced by the record company but sadly they’d all disappeared before we could lay our hands on any of them. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all …