Generally, design brings to mind companies like Apple or Dyson or any sleek, carefully assembled product. Or you might think of an attractive website or even just an eye-catching, memorable logoo, like Coca-Cola. But whatever you think of, “death metal band logos” probably isn’t very high on your mental list!

But one guitar-playing designer from Tokyo wants you to give these extreme musicians some of your attention. In fact, his recent article shows how logo archetypes can help fans find exactly the subgenre they’re looking for based on little more than a design! And even if you don’t much care for death metal, there’s still a lot you can learn about how to craft a good logo. So let’s dive in!

Before we get started, we should probably make sure that everyone knows some of the subgenres of death metal. Like any type of music, metal has plenty of genres, and those genres have more subgenres than you can shake a stick at. If you enjoy minute classification, it can be a lot of fun, but today we’ll just be looking at four subgenres: Brutal death metal, death thrash, deathcore, and technical death metal.

Today, our guide in the world of death metal logos will be Shogo, the guitarist for Japanese/American death metal band Death I Am and a designer at Shaman Graphix. It’s hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Shogo!

▼ He certainly has a good “metal face!”

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As Shogo explains, when shopping for new CDs, death metal fans often base their searches around logos instead of the graphics on the jackets. He goes on to explain that with many death metal bands, you can tell what kind of subgenre they play just from the logo. While album cover graphics may share any number of themes — many of them you might not want to share with polite company — the logos can often tell a potential listener if the CD in front of them is brutal death metal or something entirely different. He also provides some great examples, so let’s dive in!

Brutal death

Of the subgenres we’re looking at today, brutal death metal is by far my favorite. Compared to regular death metal, it has lower tuning and guttural, indecipherable vocals. You can listen to one example here. Shogo explains that these bands tend to use logos that look like thick blood or that have lots of thorn-like adornments. Often these logos are nearly unreadable and some metal websites even run contests to see if readers can guess what band a particular logo belong to. Shogo compares the unreadability of the logos to the indecipherable vocals, which seems like an accurate comparison!

▼ Defeated Sanity

▼ Cephalotripsy

▼ Abominable Putridity

Death thrash

Combining death metal with the popular thrash genre, death thrash has quite a bit more clarity than its brutal cousin. You can listen to an example here. The tuning isn’t nearly as low and the vocals can generally be understood if you listen carefully. On the other hand, death thrash focuses a lot more on fast riffs. Similarly, death thrash logos tend to have lots of straight lines with sharp edges, matching the sharp sound. Where brutal death metal logos look bludgeoned, death thrash logos looks like sharp, flying blades.

▼ Revocation

▼ Deathchain

▼ Perversor

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Perhaps the youngest genre on the list, deathcore is a combination of death metal and hardcore, itself an older combination of metal and punk. You can listen to an example here. As Shogo points out, one particularly notable characteristic of the genre is the slow-tempo breakdowns that often appear mid-song. In terms of the logos, he describes them as having messy lettering, showing the influence of hardcore.

▼ As Blood Runs Black

▼ Whitechapel

▼ Suicide Silence

Technical death metal

The final genre we’ll be looking at is technical death metal, which uses complicated phrasing, rhythms, and song structures with death metal vocals. You can listen to an example here. Shogo explains that these bands have relatively sharper logos with curves and the symmetry found in the logos of many traditional metal bands.

▼ Psycroptic

▼ Becoming the Archetype

▼ Arsis

Of course, these are only four subgenres and there are many, many more in the metal world, yet nearly every genre manages to have logos that are identifiably of its category, from djent to black metal. Of course, we should add that not every band in every subgenre follows the archetypes, but plenty of them do!

However, Shogo goes on to add another interesting point about logos: If the logo doesn’t match the music, it can result in a lot of disappointment for potential fans. This is perhaps an essential rule of design, and it’s true whether your packaging canned tuna or a new Suffocation album.

And speaking of designs, can you guess what kind of music Shogo’s band Death I Am plays, based on their logo?

▼ Probably not country music, right?

deathiamYouTube (Death I Am)

The Metal Archives list them as just a death metal band, though I personally would call them brutal death metal. But regardless of genre, they still manage to write some great, tight songs, despite being an international band with an American vocalist living in the US and the rest of the members in Japan!

▼ Death I Am’s “Subatomic Shower”

If you enjoy their music, be sure to check the band out on Facebook. They’re currently running a crowdfunding campaign to get the money to record their second album.

So, what shared characteristic have you noticed for bands and artists you like? How often do you browse for music based on logos or album jackets? Let us know in the comments below!

Sources: Backyard, Death I Am, Motion-Gallery, Twitter (@Mysterium_DIA)
Top image: Facebook (Defeated Sanity), Facebook (Whitechapel), Facebook (Deathchain), Facebook (Arsis)YouTube (Death I Am) (edited by RocketNews24)