Album Covers #3: Creepy Album Covers

Let me start by saying that I do not find the album covers by Iron Maiden or death rock artists like Cannibal Corpse the least bit scary. They seem like something a high school band might come up with, or even Spinal Tap. No, it takes that special something to chill my blood. Here's a few LP's that give me the creeps.

Black Sabbath's Born Again album freaked me out the first time I laid eyes on it in a Dayton, Ohio record store.

Ozzy had long since left the band by the time this album was released in 1983. On tour to promote Born Again, Sabbath used a Stonehenge setup which was later wonderfully parodied in This Is Spinal Tap.

Black Sabbath online is a great resource, and on the site I discovered the baby on the cover originated from a magazine cover.

Much like clowns, there's something about children that can be so innocent and at the same time so horrifying. The thought of the ghost of a child (like the twins in The Shining) scares me a lot more than the thought of an adult ghost. The Antichrist is a lot creepier as a child (i.e. The Omen) than as an adult. I'm not sure why that is, but it's an interesting thought.

What did leadsinger Ian Gillan think of the album cover? Gillian has said that "I looked at the cover and puked!"... I guess that means he didn't like it.

And speaking of Sabbath, their debut album called Black Sabbath, is my all time scariest cover. The sinister figure of a evil looking woman amid a darkened wood is a truly haunting image.

The picture is from Mapledurham Watermill on the River Thames (seen here). This album had a lot of horrific things going for it:

1. The album is recorded by a band called Black Sabbath, the album is called Black Sabbath, and it contains a song called Black Sabbath - thus inspiring the legend that this album was cursed with an unholy trinity.
2. The band and album were named after a Mario Bava horror film (before, they were called Earth)
3. The album is based almost entirely on a
tritone interval played at slow tempo on the electric guitar. Due to the "oppressive" or "scary" sound it produces, the tritone had in the Middle Ages come to be associated with "evil" in Western music. (from Wikipedia)
4. The album's original gatefold had an inverted cross. This was the idea of the record company, and the band was supposedly upset by it.
5. It was released on Friday the 13th.

The AV Club has a great list of 13 scary album covers which not only includes the infamous "butcher cover" for the Beatles album Yesterday and Today, but also Barbara Streisand's Superman LP.

IGN.com has another great list: The Top 10 Scary Album Covers, which includes a personal fave - Uriah Heep's 1970 LP Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble.

This being Retrospace, however, you know I'm prone to things a bit more off the beaten path. Sure the Sabbath and Uriah Heep covers are creepy, but what about some lesser known stuff? Here's a few odd birds that give me the heebee-jeebees. Click on the images to enlarge.

I think I'd rather run across Jason Voorhees in the woods than a couple of creepy clowns. This Jimmy Campbell LP gives me the willies.

Think clowns are creepy? Go here to view a few really horrifying album covers featuring those demonic minstrels of the underworld (otherwise known as "clowns").

You're thinking: Iron Maiden's albums don't scare him, but a chick with a doll does?

Hell, yes. There's something profoundly creepy about that dummy. The thought of Geraldine conversing with Ricky gives me the chills, especially if his voice sounded all whispery and raspy.

here to see a video by Jon & Robin.
What's so scary about this cover you ask? How about if I told you Jon Abnor was actually committed to an insane asylum, had an affair with one of the nurses and then brutally murdered her? Now that's creepy!


  1. The first album by Black Sabbath has a very creepy looking cover. It really sets the mood for what the band will be about. I enjoyed your other choices. Dummies can give you the creeps. My bro and I both had ones as kids. If I woke up to see it sitting in a chair, it would spook me. I always felt like it was staring at me.

  2. I am a super Black Sabbath fan from way back when and I even saw them back in the 70's with Ozzy, touring for the Technical Ecstasy album. I liked the Born Again album, with ex-Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillian doing some power house vocals. It was always going to be a one album deal with him as I understand.

    I also like the cover to the first album cover. I agree that subtlety lacks in the Cannibal Corpse covers and music. It is a little too intense, but to be honest I did some research (so to speak) and have everything they have recorded almost, thanks to Pirate Bay and ISO Hunt. If you have not seen my essay in their album covers the link is


    I feel it is over the top but there is a link in the essay to art of Vincent Locke. Allegedly he does not listen to the bands music really and says it is not to his taste.He was the comic book artist for the really violent Dead World zombie stories and they liked his stuff and they have commissioned him to do all their covers I think.

    I always thought Frank Zappa's Hot Rats cover was pretty freaky.

    I have some album cover plans for my site too, but they never seem to get off the ground.

  3. That Jimmy Campbell LP is the scariest one! Great blog!

  4. I notice you seem to be having alignment issues with your images. On my mozilla browser anyway. some of your pics are slipping up under the sidebar to the right. i do not know if this is intentional or not, but i could not see all the album cover with the insane guy at the bottom. do not know if you are worried... i would not sleep for years until i fixed it.

    i was thinking about the shirt off post.. what about open or off shirts that were okay? like Robert Plant or Tom Jones, or Keith Richards... maybe can do a follow up post.

  5. Keith- I'm glad I'm not the only one with an intense fear of ventriloquist dummies. If I woke up and saw one staring at me, I'd probably go into a catatonic shock.

    Willy- Yeah, I love Sabbath, and am jealous that you got to see them during their Ozzy days. The Cannibal Corpse covers are just gross and seem to be trying too hard - who's really scared by GWAR? I like subtlety in my horror.

    Todd- Yes, two clowns deep in the woods. Seems like the basis for a good horror movie to me. Remember the clown in the storm drain in Stephen King's It?

    U- Don't tell me it looks bad in Mozilla, I'll obsess about it. Everything looks great in IE. I'll have to look into it.

    If anyone else is experiencing this problem I'd appreciate it if they would let me know.

  6. I'm a big fan of The Louvin Brothers, "Satan is Real." - the album and the cover.

  7. Uriah Heep had an album entitled "Abominog". Very scary.

  8. AnonymousJune 28, 2013

    does anyone know the name of the lady on the cover of black Sabbaths first album??