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Rock Music Cover Fonts
Cover designs are as diverse as the music itself. As in a work of art, everything is permitted here. Sometimes band names and album titles merge with the other graphic elements to form a single unit. At other times, they stand next to one another. In some cases, the text is legible; in other cases, the text becomes a graphical element that takes some effort to decipher. The typography itself is just as diverse as the covers. Here there are no rules or limits, either – even extremely extravagant headline fonts are at home on an album cover.
If you want to make use of stereotype, there may be a preference for a certain genre of fonts in some styles of music. It is not mandatory, however, that metal bands use broken fonts, electro artists futuristic sans serifs, and punk bands the chaotic fonts of the 80s. Regardless of genre, one trend is clearly observable: music covers are very often set in upper case.
Here we introduce various covers and the typography used. Come along with us into the world of cover design and take a trip through very different styles.
Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell
In British heavy metal music, the music of Black Sabbath gets right down to the nitty-gritty. The band name and album title stand in contrast to this, the words are blocked and set in upper case with a font similar to ITC Novarese. The font, designed by Aldo Novarese, picks up on Roman upper-case fonts carved into stone in the second century B.C. The designer of the Black Sabbath cover may have set the monumental, delicate and somewhat noble aura of the font as a parallel to the depicted angels. Only the card playing and smoking of the angels stands out in such a heavenly setting …
Soundgarden – King Animal
The title of the album doesn’t appear on the cover at all; instead, it is conveyed by the image. The band name is set in a font similar to Optima. The very harmonious and friendly Optima from Hermann Zapf is based on Renaissance Antiqua, but does without the serifs. With a slightly noble and open character, the diverse and much-loved font integrates perfectly into the cover design. It takes up the colors, restrained in pastel tones, as well as the flowers growing carefully from the bones, forming marked contrast to the skull motif.
The Velvet Underground & Nico
Andy Warhol produced, designed and marketed the first album from the rock band Velvet Underground. His name is written on the bottom part of the distinctive banana (banana album) like a signature in a font similar to Coronet.
Coronet, designed by Robert Hunter Middleton in the 1930s, is an early representative of modern calligraphy. Its letter forms stem from a fountain pen. Although the font demonstrates few ornaments, it has a noble character, not in the least because of its very low x-height.
Bad Religion – True North
The black and white cover takes up the collage technique widespread in punk music. The band name, however, is set in a typeface that resembles Friz Quadrata, like all the other albums of the older punk band.
Over the years, various designers expanded Friz Quadrata. The first styles of this unusual font, with its distinctive, swinging terminals and open lower-case goes back to Ernst Friz and the year 1978. Although Friz Quadrata was designed more as a headline font, it can also be used for shorter texts.
Stone Sour – House of Gold & Bones Part 1
A font similar to ITC Galliard was used for the album title, which is set back artistically behind the dominant band name. The very gloomy and mystical image contrasts with a noble Antiqua, set in the upper case. ITC Galliard, designed by Matthew Carter, is based on a Baroque Antiqua from Robert Granjon from the 16th century. A relatively high degree of contrast in the weights and strong serifs lend ITC Galliard its festive and somewhat aristocratic character.
Bruce Spingsten – Born to run
The cover of the legendary Springsteen album has a very minimal design, with a black and white picture and a lot of white space. A font similar to Basic Commercial is fittingly used for the title.
Basic Commercial is a font based on historical designs from the hot metal typeface era. It first appeared around 1900, and was created by type designers whose names have not been recorded but whose skills cannot be overlooked. This typeface’s design has been popular among groups and movements as diverse as the Bauhaus, Dadaism, and the masters of Swiss/International-Style typography. It influenced for a variety of later grotesque fonts, such as Helvetica or Univers. Its neutral look and feel and the wide-ranging applicability have earned the font many fans over the years. The title, set in upper case in the Light style, has a low profile and allows the famous cover image to take precedence.
|Basic Commercial™ Light|
Fall out Boy – Save Rock and Roll
The band name and the album title are set in a font similar to Woodie by Mateusz Machalski. The very narrow letters of Woodie have a somewhat structured character that recalls stencil lettering. The raw, somewhat incomplete color application recalls a hasty pressing with large, wooden letters. Woodie is a typical headline font that only feels comfortable in the large font sizes due to its narrow design.
Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
The cover of the American rock band Foo Fighters plays with the print quality. It is not only the background that shows traces of incomplete color coverage; the title, set in a font similar to Jan Schmoegerʼs Galette, has rough edges and surfaces. The graphic also implies a crude color raster.
The structured, reduced and easily legible sans serif Galette deftly combines a somewhat technical, modern impression with elements of the Art Deco era at the start of the 20th century. With alternative characters – not used here on the cover – you can develop this character even further.
Alice in Chains – The Devil put Dinosaurs here
This cover’s impact stems from its minimalist design. Everything is arranged around the central axis and the animal skull is embedded into the monocolor background. A font similar to Trajan was selected for the band name, fitting for this simple yet noble design. Carol Twombly designed Trajan as an upper-case font. It is based on the Roman fonts that were chiseled into stone in the first century A.D.
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