Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Process Behind: The War Within

(Above: The final cover. Click to enlarge.)

While new designs are being created (but not yet finalized), I dug through the archives to – for the first time ever – compile and post the "process" behind one of my favorite album cover projects, Shadows Fall's The War Within.

Prior to this album, I had both signed the band and created the artwork for their first Century Media album, Of One Blood. This time around, I worked exclusively with singer Brian Fair – having him send me both the lyrics and his thoughts on the album followed by my diving into both naming the record and conceptualizing the visuals for it. I recall that we originally agreed upon another title I had suggested but, due to a band (whose name I can't recall for the life of me) coincidentally announcing their upcoming release of the same name, we moved towards The War Within.

The idea for The War Within turned to one man – any man, mind you – and the chaos and beauty that surrounds each of us here on earth. Birth, death, love, hate, riots, pollution, power, religion, nature, corruption of the mind, the soul, and so on. By simply living, we are open and susceptible to them all – to confront each of them, from within.

(Above: The process of building the cover's box. Click to enlarge.)

I wanted to create this without the help of the computer and without looking like every other metal album cover in that era. The first idea that struck me was to create a box that would be hung by screw eyes and metal wire, photographed, and then compiled into a cover design. Beyond that, I grabbed public images that reflected the forces of the world around us, selected a couple key photographs from my archives, dug up some found objects, and – most importantly – bought an antique Topp Cola soda crate to house everything in.

I spray painted the interior crate black, wet tinted the background imagery for an aged look, compiled the central imagery, mounted them on the backs of broken row dividers from the crate, and sent it off to Justin Borucki to be photographed in macro detail (back cover, interiors) as well as in full (front cover).

Released September 21, 2004, and reaching #20 on the Billboard charts, The War Within sold over 350,000 copies for Century Media – then the label's best seller ever and three times as many as the band's previous release. They also received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Metal Performance for this album. To this day, The War Within remains one of the great albums from the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement of the 2000s and I'm proud to say I played a part in it.

(Above: Detail photography by Justin Borucki. Click to enlarge.)