Metallic Mirrors Part Three: Bruce Pennington

It’s been a while since our last look at metal album covers that share their artwork with fantasy/SF/horror books. Previous installments focused on Michael Whelan and Ken Kelly. This time around, we’re featuring the work of British artist Bruce Pennington.

Earlier this week Colorado death metal band Blood Incantation announced their upcoming album, Hidden History of the Human Race. The revealing of the cover caused something of a stir, for the same artwork appeared (slightly modified) on Apocalyptic Dawning, an album released in 1995 by the little-known Canadian band Agony. Some people got the impression that Blood Incantation “ripped off” Agony, but the reality is that they licensed the artwork from Pennington. It was originally painted in the ‘70s for the book Space, Time and Nathaniel by Brian Aldiss. Interestingly, electronic musician Alec Empire used the same art for his 1995 release Hypermodern Jazz 2000.5 as well. It’s unknown whether Agony or Alec Empire used the artwork with permission, but in the section on licensed works of Pennington’s site, neither is mentioned.

Brian Aldiss - Space, Time and Nathaniel.jpg

Pennington’s art adorned Blood Incantation’s debut EP, Interdimensional Extinction, as well. The cover features a black and white version of a morbid planetary piece from 1973. In addition, the insert included artwork that originally appeared on the cover of The Horror Horn, a collection by E.F. Benson. Chilean band Mourners Lament must have thought that piece deserved to be more than just an insert, and used it as the cover of their debut album We All Be Given.

Blood Incantation - Interdimensional Extinction.jpg

With the wraparound cover for the Clark Ashton Smith collection Lost Worlds Vol. 2, we have another case of multiple bands using the same image. German thrashers Desaster used the back portion for their release The Hill of a Thousand Souls, while the complete image, front and back, appeared on Supernatural Alliance by Detroit rockers Octopus.

Clark Ashton Smith - Lost Worlds Vol 2.jpg
Octopus - Supernatural Alliance.jpg
Desaster - The Hill of a Thousand Souls.jpg

Although Bruce Pennington is retired and no longer takes commissions, he’s happy to continue licensing his work to metal and rock bands in need of spectacular covers.

See also: The Moody and Desolate Art of Bruce Pennington