Justin Bartlett has created art for some of your favorite bands and labels: SUNN O))), Intronaut, and Southern Lord, among many others. A self-described “black-ink warlock from the grim and frostbitten raven-realm of Southern California,” Bartlett knows metal and doom aesthetics. It’s only natural that he knows of a few bands you should hear too.
Bands and Artists You Should Know
by Justin Bartlett
Constructing a cohesive theme for my guest column at ALARM was not forming in my skull. Top Ten Album Releases for 2010? Top Ten Favorite Artists? Top Ten Fish Tacos? Hmm…nothing.
Perhaps this needs to be more KVLT and underground…Top 10 Cassette Releases? Nah, the tape thing has been played out enough. Bear with me….Top Six Uses of Upside-Down Crosses on Album Artwork? Ah, fuck it, here’s a list of nine bands and visual artists that I enjoy, find inspirational, or simply think are interesting and who you should check out for yourself. All of the visual artists I’ve listed have created artwork for bands, but some of the musicians/bands do not necessarily have outstanding album aesthetics. Either visually or musically (and sometimes both), they weave together textures that are dark, grim, and, to a person with a penchant for the negative, often cathartic.
Blessure Grave was one of the best things to come out of San Diego’s rather lackluster and safe indie music scene for years. Although its post-punk sound gives a nod to some of my favorites — Joy Division, Death In June, The Cure, and The Chameleons — the band played with enough conviction and creativity to avoid being too derivative. Structurally, the band has a very strong pop drive to its material with an underlying bedroom black-metal atmosphere. Blessure Grave released a ton of EPs on vinyl and cassette, and Judged by Twelve, Carried by Six was one of my favorite releases of 2010. Unfortunately, the band broke up recently, but luckily I was able to work on a cassette cover for When I Die before its demise. Blessure Grave’s mastermind, Tobias [Grave], started a new band called Soft Kill.