Out of all the triumphs in the world of art, few can compare to the cover of Grim Reaper's seminal album "Fear No Evil". Grim Reaper is known to most simply as "the band with the hideous singer whose looks made everyone around the world dry-heave in disgust", or the band whose video had a cameo by Joey Belladona. But with time, we have gained insight. With that insight, we have come to see the undeniable value of this fantastic cover.
Grim Reaper toured once with Anthrax in the mid 80s. That's all it took for them to take on the absolutely worst characteristic of our beloved New York City thrashers...the poodle haircut. The diagram above shows the three characteristic shapes found within Charlie Benante's stylish poodle cut. The poodle haircut, in case you didn't know, was a rare sub-genus of the mullet species, primarily seen in the greater New York City area. The poodle haircut required constant attention and primping, much like a topiary at Epcot Center.
And Now, Back To The Record Cover:
Breaking away from the norm, the artist of this masterpiece turned his back on oils and airbrushing (common media of the day) and made the bold move of using colored pencils and (perhaps) pastels. Pencils, though not commonly known as an effective device to portray true brutality, nevertheless managed to beautifully convey an amazing scene for this cover. Why do I say "amazing"? Just think about what is being shown in this terrifying piece of art. Picture yourself chillin' in church (or a holy place of your choice) with your parents. You're about 13, and you're there because your mom makes you go. In reality, you'd rather be home watching Hellraiser in the basement, or listening to...say....Grim Reaper. You're wearing ill-fitting, pleated-front khakis, along with the free plastic belt they came with. The sermon is moving along slowly, and you're bored to tears. All of a sudden....BOOOM! A god damned motorcycle-riding skeleton bursts through the stained glass windows like the Kool-Aid man! Holy Mary mother of baby Jesus! It's the Grim Reaper skeleton! Tell me this wouldn't totally make your day?
Now, I'm no art expert so I'm not sure how this cover has anything to do with the title "Fear No Evil". But maybe it does. Am I not supposed to fear him? He's certainly evil. He's plenty evil actually, sorry if that opinion is not very metal...but I'd be scared as all hell. I mean, look, if this guy is riding his motorcycle through those expensive stained glass windows, he's pretty evil! And, at the risk of sounding like a little bitch, I do fear him. What would you do if you were just sitting quietly in church and a god damned motorcycle-riding skeleton plowed through the window? At the very least, you'd be startled. Don't try to be all metal and say "nah dude, that would be rad!", cus you know you'd be scared as all hell. Come on, the old ladies in church would freak the hell out, piss their diapers and at least one of them would die from a heart attack. Why you ask? Did I mention that a fucking motorcycle just burst through the fucking stained-glass window? Oh...and another thing, the fucking motorcycle was being ridden—not by a normal human being—no. It was the fucking Grim Reaper on two fucking wheels!
With that out of the way, let me comment on a couple of other things. First, look at the impressive work that was put into his robe. Sadly, no such work went into the perspective. Just look at the part of the wall that is visible on the right. Oops, it's going the other way. Also, by the time he finished the robe and had to draw the outside of the building that is visible through the broken window, the very place the Grim Reaper is coming from, he decided to call it a day and simply paint it all black. I also love how this skeleton dude is pure evil, but still manages to place his big toe, every so gently once inside the building. Based on the length of his toenails, I'd say the man is due for a day of pampering and a mani-pedi, but he's still demure with his toe placement. Also, check out those teeth. Oh my.
Regarding the motorcycle, I'm hoping an enthusiast out there can fill us in on the accuracy of the steel horse he's ridding. Isn't he riding super far back on the bike? The bike seems to have no brake mechanism in the front wheel at all either. That's pretty evil, no brakes...dude is crazy evil! I see brake levers, but no disc brake in the front hub. I thought those were pretty much standard, no? Also, the front wheel is not exactly round either. I think it's pretty cool that even though he's the Grim Reaper and all, he still likes to personalize his bike. Note the goat/devil head in the front suspension. That's like the equivalent of a "baby on board" sign in the underworld. They're all the rage down there.
Lastly, I took this picture of my own personal copy of the album. Check out the sweet contest they were running when the album came out, it was called "Reaper Madness". Get it? It's like "Reefer Madness"! More importantly, you could win a Grim Reaper jersey or headband! Oh man! I'm so bummed that by the time I bought this record, the contest had ended like 10 years earlier. Damn.