So, let’s continue. Thiswill probably get a bit picture-heavy so I thought it might be better to split the post up into two.
So what about cover art? Let’s make it simple fir ourselves and take the covers of the debut albums as a convenient starting point. This has the advantage that we can compare the presentation of those four bands in a phase where all of them were still distinctly and strongly Modern Metal:
So, again let’s try to list noticeable similarities:
First: Formaly, all cover pictures are structured very cleanly, leaning heyv on straight lines, clear symmetries and clear axes. This is especially clear with Sybreed cover art that unfolds from a very obvious central axis. Mnemics cover art features a slightly shifted cross. Raunchys art is very clearly compartmentalised. Textures art has a lower third axis that is emphasized with a strong black line. We see the same pattern we already saw with the band logos. The imagery is very clean and technical. Very little depth, no complex perspectives.
Second: The content of the cover art is mostly abstract. With the exception of Sybreed art, there’s no clearly defined figures, persons or landscapes to be seen. On all covers, no clear stories or situations are presented. Instead, configurations of scenery and objects are shown in a collage-lika style. They imagery is evoking feelings and references, rather than delivering a clear message. This is certainly not exclusive to Modern Metal but it may pointto similar influences from the direction of the three pillars (which definitely used similar styles of cover art content) and probably Progressive Metal.
Third: Again, looking at the content, we see a strongly shared pattern. In all four cover artworks we see a combination of some kind machinery with things of organic nature. In Sybreeds art we see a human head on somehing like a combination of clockwork and industrial building structure. In Mnemics art, we see their logo situated between hydraulic looking framework with a digital looking circular structure at the core, combined with streams of light emanating from the middle. On Raunchys art, we see what looks like a blueprint for some machine overlayed with frames that show something that looks like a sunset scenery. On Textures art we see a picture of still lake and some of the bank with a tree ripping open to reveal a slightly rusted clockwork structure. The combination of the mechanical, technical, with the organic shows a strong connection to the musical style of those bands as this is the very contrast that was so unique in the early 2000s, using Meshuggahs riffing technique to make the verses sound more mechanical and using layering, synths and clean singing to contrast the dry mechanical hammering with industrial soundscapes and (warmer, more human) anthemic choruses. The cover art shows exactly this and also clearly points to the influences of those band, coming from the three pillars who used similar imagery but also beyond them, to Industrial Metal.
So, judging from those cover artworks, we have a situation very similar to band logos. Strong similarities, clear links to the shared main influences and some pointers beyond (even though much more could be said about composition, color temperatures, etc. Again, take this as a possible starting point for a more in depth examination).
But did this stay or did the cover art change? Here, as was only slightly hinted at with the logos, one can clearly say that the regularities and changes in the cover art going on represent the regularities and changes in the stylistic decisions the bands made going on.
For example: As Raunchy adopted a more poppy, lighter style, so their cover art became more geometric, bright but also colder.
When they shifted towards a more Newschool Melodic Death Metal influenced style, though, their art also shifted towards the organic, even scenic, which becomes very obvious on their cover art for “Wasteland Discotheque”:
Another example would be Textures whose art stayed in the abstract but became more picturesque, colorful and organic with the time, in line with their turn to a style nearer to Progressive Metal:
Sybreed and Mnemic stayed with the patterns layed out above, though, with a slight exception in Mnemics cover art for “Sons Of The System”.
This, again, perfectly in line with the fact that they never changed their musical style drasticaly and always stayed within a certain range of their core formula with their experimentation.
Those parallels between cover art and stylistic development of those bands makes a strong point for the thought that those artworks were not chosen arbitrarily. They do reflect the music of those bands. And this makes similarities between them reflect back on similarities between the artists works themselves. So that my claim that there are strong core similarities between those four bands is strengthened even a bit more by these observations.