The design of extreme heavy metal logos

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I wont post it but I think this one seems much better in negative to what you see here. You see this a lot where people take art designed on white and reverse it to put it on a black t-shirt and all of the artist’s shading gets spoiled in the same way that a photographic negative is harder to understand than the positive.


I’ll say… I wasn’t even able to decipher most of the ones displayed.


Then there’s SunnO)))'s logo, which is the complete and utter inverse of their actual sound:

ETA: Thanks to @Beanolini for pointing out that this is a logo for Sunn amps from which SunnO))) derived their name. I have now revealed that I play exactly zero plugged musical instruments.


Gee, there are a lot of these.


That’s to a fairly substantial degree deliberate, especially with regard to death metal and black metal.

For the most part, what’s being said doesn’t matter nearly as much as how it sounds and how it feels (and looks, depending on the band). That’s true of a lot of song lyrics and especially true of death metal, most of which is written with tongue thoroughly embedded in cheek. Your average death/black metal band member does not have a massive well of horrific negative emotion to draw from, after all. And yeah that philosophy extends to band logos, the illegibility of which is something of a meme at this point.

The unreadable logos actually bother me, as someone who likes the genre. You can do the gritty dark thing without making your logo hard to grok and therefore less memorable. Readability was one of the only design constraints I put on my friend when he was designing our logo. I wanted people to be able to find us on Google after seeing a poster or t-shirt with the logo on it (and obviously, to want to go looking).

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That’s interesting. I understand the deliberate “form over substance” philosophy at work here - but at some point it really comes into conflict with certain fundamental principles of information dissemination.


There’s also a “for the initiated” mindset—where the artist deforms the letterforms as wildly as they can, and if you can decipher the text you feel like part of a club. See also ’60s rock posters, graffiti tagging, John Langdon.

That’s my biggest problem with metal: why all the black? I really enjoyed Manson’s devil-in-broad-daylight persona of Mechanical Animals. Granted, a good portion of that schtick was pulled right from Bowie’s Ziggy days, but I can’t fault Warner for that.

Does anyone else in metal turn this particular trope on its head?

This is what we drew in English class when terminally bored. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a band to go with it.

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Rule of thumb - if you can read the band’s name, then they are clearly neither trve nor cvlt.


I dunno. I think this one’s my favorite…


Relevant prior discussion:

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I’d suggest looking up a band called “Party Cannon”. But yeah. It’s part of the genre. Bubblegum popstars tend not to entertain tweens when covered in entrails, so…

I’m pretty fond of Sunn O))) even if they have a silly name.

I recognized Voivod by name simply because they didn’t originally have a ridiculous logo – the album of theirs I had just used what looked like a bank OCR font. They really didn’t seem particularly dark and scary to me. I suspect decades of listening to Skinny Puppy with the occasional dip into Merzbow vhas recalibrated my expectations.

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…which isn’t even really their logo, cos they stole it from Sunn amps.

Incidentally, not long ago, I saw a grey Volvo with its logo modified to ‘VOLVO)))’. Neither it, nor its driver, looked particularly metal.


Back in the 80’s I had one of those salmon pink 240dl station wagons. Did you know that if you cut a wee bit out of the first “O” and add it to the bottom of the last “O”, you’re now the proud owner of a pink “Vulva”?

Seriously, anything will amuse a teenage boy though…


Always loved this one.

Matches the band’s sound pretty damn well.

Although this version seems to be missing the little lines that segment the ring…

Not to mention the blood-gutters on the swords are a bit fudged.

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