This is part 2 of a three part post about the value of spokesmen in the realm of metal.
Ron Popeil is perhaps the best known TV spokesman. He has talked millions of lonely housewives into buying less than amazing products like Mr Microphone, GLH (Great Looking Hair), Chop-O-Matic and the Showtime Rotisserie. Upon seeing his picture, you can surely tell that Ron Popeil and Iron Maiden's Eddie have at least one thing in common. Their looks. Aside from that, Eddie and Ron were both true pioneers in the world of spokesmen. What does that mean? Like the true pro that he is, Ron always showed us his products in the best light possible, even going to great lengths (cutting shoes in half with Ginsu knives) to do so. Similarly, spokesmen in the realm of metal have to do their job...regardless as to whether the album is a winner (Iron Maiden's Powerslave) or an absolute dud (Laaz Rockit's....well, any of their albums). Let's take a closer look at the spokesmen that made us buy the albums.
In this post, as in the last one, I will rate spokesmen according to my Metal Spokesman Metrics (MSM for short). Remember: the scores I will give are for the spokesperson, not the band or their output.
I have to confess that back in the day Anthrax was one of my absolute favorites, and as a result I'm slightly biased on this one. Even though I grew up in a rather cold city, I made my mom buy me bermuda shorts simply because of Anthrax. Ugh, how embarrassing.
Never known to shy away from humor or lightheartedness, Anthrax enlisted the Not Man as their spokesperson mid-way through their career. Forgive me for not knowing, but I'm still unsure as to where the hell the Not Man came from. Is it modeled after the rubber faces you could buy from the gumball machines? Was it drawn by the guy from MAD Magazine, or was that only for the one drawing on State Of Euphoria? Did Scott Ian draw it while looking into his crystal ball in order to let us know what he would look like as an aging jewish man? I don't know.
Backpatch worthiness: 8
Total MSM score: 16
Perhaps one of the oddest spokesmen in metal is the Pestilence creepy-sphere. Much in the way that their music tried to stretch the meaning of metal, so too did their choice in spokesman/spokesphere. An unusual choice, Pestilence creepy sphere is a slightly evolved version of the those gazing balls that fat people put on their front lawns. Had Pestilence come around earlier with their magic sphere, perhaps Mordred would have been tempted to pursue granting spokesman status to the checkerboard pattern on their cover of Fool's Game. The same could be said for the checkerboard pattern in Broken Hope's Swamped In Gore. If you can have a sphere as a spokesman, why not a checkerboard pattern?
But back to Pestilence. Perhaps one of Dan Seagrave's most haunting artistic statements, the creepy sphere is the only truly inanimate spokesman I can think of. I can picture an infomercial for a Pestilence album, where the sphere sits there, silently for long stretches of time. Though that may sound odd, many people have reported that listening to Pestilence feels a lot like staring at a sphere that does nothing for hours. So at least, it would be an accurate depiction of the product. I have to confess that many years ago, I saw that Dan Seagrave was selling the original artwork for the cover that you see above. I was like $850, and for a split second I considered getting it. I know, I'm an idiot for having considered it, and an idiot for not having done it. Can you imagine me giving people a tour of my house, and proudly saying "oh this old thing....it's just an original Dan Seagrave...from the Pestilence album 'Testimony of the ancients'. Are you familar with his work?" I would be both the lamest and the coolest guy ever...at the same time!
Evilness: 1 (Though certainly not evil, a metal sphere thing sitting there in my room would be kinda' scary I guess...especially if it just appeared suddenly.)
Backpatch worthiness: 4
Total MSM score: 11
The 80s were an odd time in the world of thrash and speed metal. How else can you explain a band using the word "Reich" in their name, then having their spokesperson have concentration camp-style tattoos on his arm, and STILL be considered "politically aware" and "socially-conscious"? Weird stuff. Perhaps if I could quickly board the Nocturnus time machine, and travel back to 1988 I would understand things better...because I'm having trouble remembering how any of this made any sense back then. Anyway, their surfin' dude was only used on a couple of covers and shirts, but he certainly embodied the band's brand. Though nicely tan and in shape, the guy had a built in gas mask...perhaps due to all the toxic waste in the ocean that every thrash band was obsessed with. Today, you really CAN surf Nicaragua. This site proves it. surfnicaragua.com
Evilness: 4 (He's surfing for god's sake! What's he going to do next? Get fish tacos and ride his cruiser bike down the boardwalk?)
Backpatch worthiness: 7
Total MSM score: 19
I've heard like five interviews where members from Voivod try to explain how their band is a concept band, and how it has to do with technology or something...I still don't understand it. I think this skull dude is called "The Voivod" based on an interview I saw once, but I'm not even sure. Some say this thing is called "Korgull", but I don't know. Look, since I'm not a native speaker of the English language, and I have an accent myself, I can tell you this without risking being labeled a xenophobe...I don't understand a damn thing French Canadians say. They sound retarded. I know I probably do too...but god damn.
Evilness: 6 (Okay, so he's a skull and pretty evil looking...but he has wires and stuff hanging out. That means that if I were engaged in battle with him, I could just pee on him, and he would short out.)
Backpatch worthiness: 10
Total MSM score: 25
The first Destruction album I heard back in the day was that live one where they played "In The Mood" and the Pink Panther theme song. As a result, I never thought of them as being particularly evil or metal...I mean, nothing says "metal" like a good Glenn Miller tune. Having said that, the Mad Butcher was plenty evil. Though only used in a couple of occasions, the Mad Butcher was certainly identifiable as Destruction's spokesman. Like their fellow Germans Helloween, however, Destruction suffered as its brand became fragmented.
As stated before regarding Helloween's spokesman schizophrenia, Destruction's brand fragmentation most likely came about as a result of their German heritage. Being from a country still coming to terms with its own fragmented political past (pre and post war), created a dual personality that came to the surface in its most visible form via Destruction and Helloween's artwork. The cracked skull that Destruction used in multiple covers was, oddly enough, NOT used in their less than amazing album (and Ice-T's favorite) Cracked Brain. I should point out, that brains don't usually crack, skulls do. Though I guess a brain could crack, as a figure of speach...but that's not the point, now is it? Due to this confussion, I will judge the butcher only.
Backpatch worthiness: 5
Total MSM score: 17
Helicopter-head lawnmower operator
In Lawnmower Deth's artowrk, Dan Seagrave showed us his true versatility as an artist. Known to most as the guy that painted the lobster claws in Sepultura's Arise cover, Dan wanted to stretch his wings and draw terrible artwork with a different theme. It was with this mindset that Dan's mind gave birth to whatever the hell this green sphere with a helicopter head is. Reminiscent of Tankard's green alien (which itself looked like a Gremlin), this spokesman was created to accurately depict the fun-loving and insanely annoying quality of the band. At first, these green monsters were the operators of lawnmowers, but at some point they became versatile enough to stand on their own. Not opposed to working with other lawn equipment, they were also depcited working with chainsaws.
I remember listening to Lawnmower Deth back in the day, and thinking they were amazingly funny. Today, I would rather chomp on multiple cyanide capsules at once.
Backpatch worthiness: 2
Total MSM score: 4
Part 3 will be posted on Friday and will feature Megadeth, Manowar, Sodom and more. Stay tuned!