The top 30 album covers of 2021

Brace for a year's worth of visual endeavors sculpted carefully by bright minds.

Artwork by Visual Amnesia

THY ART IS HEAVY.


Cover artwork creation is a wondrous phenomena that brings together an array of minds and lived experiences in an intersectional manner that finds common ground to serve a purpose. For some, that purpose is economic through a focus on marketability. For others, it's an extension of the life created within a record's musical and lyrical capabilities. Regardless of what the driving factors are, the process becomes a byproduct of the physical and psychological investment placed by all involved, resulting in alluring spectacles to immerse yourself in. That's why we're here today.


The illustration you see before you is but one of the three pieces forming Thy Art Is Heavy, a conceptual triptych crafted by our dear friend Reuben Bhattacharya (Visual Amnesia) exclusively for the Heaviest of Art year-end features. The triptych, which we'll outline in a future column, serves a particular purpose here: to introduce the best of this year's cover illustrations. Artists are stones, carved meticulously by their schools of thought, the surrounding world, and their lived experiences, all of which diverge into one creative being. The works shown today are a reflection of the world of possibilities that are these artists, artists enlisted by musicians for all-encompassing audiovisuals that have enriched our lives for the course of this unstable past year. As editors that kept a running list of notable selections throughout the year, it became hard to reach a list-based consensus, especially art being subjective and there being a high volume of illustrations coming across our desks on a weekly basis. After much consideration, we're thrilled to present you a collection of what made 2021 such a memorable one for music illustration. You know the drill: scroll through at a slow pace and let the mind roam free.


Here are the top 30 album covers of 2021:

 

30. Reggie Becton - California (Alina) | Listen

reggie becton
Cover Artwork by Alina

29. Noltem - Illusions In The Wake (Anthony Hurd) | Listen

noltem
Cover Artwork by Anthony Hurd

28. Mycelium - Scream Bloody Spore (Dávid Glomba) | Listen

mycelium
Cover Artwork by Dávid Glomba

27. Whitechapel - Kin (Jillian Savage) | Listen

whitechapel
Cover Artwork by Jillian Savage

26. Mick Jenkins - Elephant In The Room (Ferrari Sheppard) | Listen

mick jenkins
Cover Artwork by Ferrari Sheppard

25. 1914 - Where Fear And Weapons Meet (Vladimir "Smerdulak" Chebakov) | Listen

1914
Cover Artwork by Vladimir "Smerdulak" Chebakov

24. Vildhjarta - måsstaden under vatten (Rickard Westman) | Listen

vildhjarta
Cover Artwork by Rickard Westman

23. Trippie Redd - Trip At Knight (Stephen Gibb) | Listen

trippie redd
Cover Artwork by Stephen Gibb

22. Ungfell - Es Grauet (Robbie C. Ward) | Listen

ungfell
Cover Artwork by Robbie C. Ward

21. Bornholm - Apotheosis (Peter Sallai) | Listen

apotheosis
Cover Artwork by Peter Sallai

20. Aborted - Maniacult (Pär Olofsson) | Listen

aborted
Cover Artwork by Pär Olofsson

19. Mono - Pilgrimage of the Soul (Ahmed Emad Eldin) | Listen

mono japan
Cover Artwork by Ahmed Emad Eldin

18. Beyond Grace - Our Kingdom Undone (Shindy Design) | Listen

beyond grace
Cover Artwork by Shindy Design

17. Midnight Odyssey - Biolume Part 2: The Golden Orb (Elijah Tamu) | Listen

Cover Artwork by Elijah Tamu

16. Cradle of Filth - Existence is Futile (Arthur Berzinsh) | Listen

cradle of filth
Cover Artwork by Arthur Berzinsh

15. Young Thug - Punk (K2, Lil X, Fano) | Listen

punk young thug
Cover Artwork by K2, Lil X, Fano

14. Rivers of Nihil - The Work (Dan Seagrave) | Listen

rivers of nihil
Cover Artwork by Dan Seagrave

13. Khnvm - Portals To Oblivion (Khaos Diktator) | Listen

Khaos Diktator
Cover Artwork by Khaos Diktator

12. Qrixkuor - Poison Palinopsia (Daniel Corcuera) | Listen

qrixkuor
Cover Artwork by Daniel Corcuera

11. Worm - Foreverglade (Brad Moore) | Listen

wormgloom
Cover Artwork by Brad Moore

10. Dvne - Etemen Ænka (Marald Van Haasteren) | Listen

dvne
Cover Artwork by Marald Van Haasteren

9. HEX A.D. - Funeral Tango For Gods And Men (Dave Patchett) | Listen

hex ad
Cover Artwork by Dave Patchett

8. Vokonis - Odyssey (Kyrre Bjurling) | Listen

Cover Artwork by Kyrre Bjurling

7. Livløs - And Then There Were None (Mariusz Lewandowski) | Listen

Mariusz Lewandowski
Cover Artwork by Mariusz Lewandowski

6. Helloween - Self-Titled (Eliran Kantor) | Listen

Cover Artwork by Eliran Kantor

helloween
Cover Artwork by Eliran Kantor

5. Trivium - In The Court of the Dragon (Mathieu Nozieres) | Listen

trivium
Cover Artwork by Mathieu Nozieres

4. Nekromantheon - Visions of Trismegistus (Zbigniew M. Bielak) | Listen

nekromantheon
Cover Artwork by Zbigniew M. Bielak

3. Whoredom Rife - Winds of Wrath (Jose Gabriel Alegria Sabogal) | Listen

whoredome rife
Cover Artwork by Jose Gabriel Alegria Sabogal

2. Abscession - Rot Of Ages (Adam Burke) | Listen

abscession
Cover Artwork by Adam Burke

1. Mastodon - Hushed and Grim (Paul Romano) | Listen

mastodon paul romano
Cover Artwork by Paul Romano

mastodon
Cover Artwork by Paul Romano

 

Congratulations to all for the magnificent works that introduced us to worlds beyond that of the music embodied within. Lose yourself to the arts, purchase and stream the records, and check out the artists responsible for the selections for their portfolios are as grand as the works shown here.


A big future awaits. Follow Heaviest of Art on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Artwork by The Hatch Comic