Behind The Artworks: Basilysk - Emergence (2018)

1. Album Cover:

I’ll begin by filling you in on the overall concept of not only this album, but the reoccurring theme of the band as a whole. In 2012, Basilysk released the eight track EP, Seasons of Misanthropy – keyword: “seasons”. Its purpose was to serve as an introduction to the seasonal concept without aligning with any particular season. 

I believe there is a specific time of year to enjoy certain genres of music. Black Metal wasn’t created by the sons of northern darkness to be experienced during an August heatwave. You don’t spin Blizzard 

Beasts to get fired up for a 4th of July backyard barbecue. No, you put on some California thrash, Florida Death Metal, or Cowboys From Hell! I think I’ve made my point – a recording can capture the “where and when” of a piece of music and that influences the feeling the music gives out. That was all taken into consideration prior to production of this album. 

Since I started dreaming up the art direction, I knew I wanted a photograph of cicadas to be the album cover – cicadas representing the “emergence” of the band from an extensive period of underground dormancy. 

I struck gold when I stumbled upon “Cicada Madness” by photographer, Gene Hilton, on his website. Right down to the title, it fit the Basilysk brand, so I virtually tracked him down to make him an offer. What I did not expect was for him to respond saying not to worry about payment. “Just give me a credit somewhere in the album”, he added. He sent me a high resolution file and I started experimenting with it in Photoshop. Keep in mind, I wanted some kind of hot color scheme that would match the fiery nature of the songs on this album and the summer theme. The image you see is a result of a deadly combination of blending layers that make a blazing sunset pallet pop out from the black and our logo acting as the sun. The title font is a simple, yet effective alteration of a standard serif typeface but with fiery tails – a perfect fit for Emergence. I ran it past the other members and they were all thrilled with it, as I was, so I never looked back. You can see the original photo by Gene Hilton in the tray card panel under the disc. 

2. Molester of Dreams (Streaming soon at Metal Injection):

After scrapping my original idea for this which was a finished digital illustration I’d already completed (of similar aesthetic to the final piece), I went with a Claymation style spinoff. Clay being the medium of choice to best represent the manipulative propensities of The Molester. A humanoid mosquito stands over the victim while draining his mind of imagination and sucking the blood from his skull; symbolic of the mental scarring and physical debilitation that affects victims of this sort of uninvited psychic fondling. The three cancer cells represent The Molester’s “cancerous doubts” that plague the victim. If we ever get funding for a music video for this song, I’d love to use this piece for some Claymation clips to make the video a multimedia masterpiece. Shout out to Chris Koontz Photography for doing a clutch photoshoot for this. 

3. Sinners of Their Own Reality (Stained Glass Obscurity):

 This is the most experimental piece I’ve ever done let alone created for the album. It took three tries to get it to work, but to me, it was well worth all the trial and error. My vision was to have images of raunchy pornography fill stained glass windows to mirror the twisted consciousness of a Catholic population and society that cast me out for the way I look. The point being their view of metal culture being “devil worshipping” when in reality, their culture is built on more sin (bloodshed, greed, and hedonism to name a few) than any other – just look at their life source, the Vatican. The best part about this piece is that when placed in front of a window, the sun will illuminate the colorful images to remind you of all the cum guzzling that goes on behind the scenes of this corrupt faith and that is exactly what I captured for this page of the booklet. 

 4. Sad State of the Art:

I had a whole collage of the band pieced together for this page with cut-and-paste lyrics framing the piece, but unfortunately the text ended up being too small for the booklet so I had to whip up another idea last minute. I was still able to capture the raw feel of the song on this page, but the collage will now exclusively serve as a t-shirt design. I’d like to auction off the original signed by all of us at one of our shows in the near future. 

5. Fire (In the Temple of Sacrifice):

This is one of the first pieces I made for the album and marked my experimentation with tempura paint. For those who don’t know what that is, it is paint made from egg yolk, oil, a drop of vinegar, and, traditionally, natural substances ground up into a powder to create the desired color. For instance, my pallet here is red (paprika), green (spirulina), yellow (turmeric), white (chalk), brown (henna), and black (charcoal). There’s a lot of symbolism going on here to match the lyrical complexity of the song. That’s me on the cross wearing the crown of thorns which stands for the amount of personal sacrifice I put into this album. The Basilisk or dragon of chaos in the corner - representing this chaotic period in my life - spews the fire that keeps me trudging through it – turning many negative experiences and chaos into fuel for determination. Two eyes float in the distance to tie together one of the running motifs of the album. Lastly, a blazing sun of hope spanning the sky not only feeds the summer overtone of the album, but serves as a positive counter to balance the chaos in the opposing corner – a guide which I cannot betray. I found making paint from scratch to be a very earthly experience which put me in touch with some medieval past life. 

6. Karma and Friends:  

My sophomore oil paint effort started as a simple design and grew into a larger than life challenge for me. Being only my second bout with oil paint, getting from start to finish with this one was a school in itself. The sketch shows that I was pretty loyal to my original ideas, but I couldn’t help adding as many filigrees and nuances as I saw fit to make this thing stand out at an art show or in a gallery (or on a t-shirt!). The blue, ethereal clouds really evolved from what I originally had on the canvas into a visual manifestation of the spirit – more so than I first envisioned. The eye motif appears again but as an eye of judgement which serves true justice in life through karma unlike the artificial “justice” issued by the state. The painting, synonymous with the song, walks you through the karmic life cycle from pre-birth in the cosmic womb to planetary inhabitance to a fiery pit in the afterlife for the antagonist in the song. I brought the finished painting to the set of Necrosexual’s music video for “Necrosexual Encounter” which Chris Koontz was shooting and he kindly took a high resolution photo of it for the booklet. For lyrical layout’s sake, I cascaded the image to create a mesmerizing and transcendental effect. 

7. Credits:

I knew all along that I wanted to implement a photo of the 2017 solar eclipse somewhere in the booklet to pay respects to such an epic cosmic event that took place during the recording of this album. I remember being outside in South Philadelphia that day and being humored by the dozens of people I saw in parks staring mindlessly at the sky with these space goggles on. That image really stuck with me and inspired my vision for the iconic “space gogs” photoshoot with photographer, Matt Decker. Anyway, there we are superimposed into the middle of the eclipse while lying on a hill staring at the sky. It was also great to pay respects to all those involved in the creation of Emergence and anyone who deserved recognition for supporting us. 

8. Back Panel:  

Jimmy had set up our first photoshoot with Matt Decker at the site of the historic Cave of Kalpius in the woods of Wissahickon just outside of Philly. We got a lot of good shots out of that day, but as we all became increasingly cranky with the sinking of the sun, I figured it was a good time to get experimental. I remember seeing an old Venom poster in a record store where they were all double exposed in the woods which created this eerie, trippy effect. I figured if we all ran towards the camera, the motion blur could create a similar aesthetic and sure enough we got some interesting in-camera effects out of it. Emerging from the cave at full speed, we deliver an image that adds proper punctuation to the album booklet and what I just recently noticed is oddly similar to the back panel of Paranoid – more subconscious homage paid to Sabbath! 

9. Disc Art:

Hex of the Eternal Sun Before the first album was made, I received an old paperback book about Dutch Hexes. I was intrigued at how the hexes could represent certain aspects of life and were used to manifest a desired fortune. I used my own rendering of the Four Seasons Hex from the book on the cover of Seasons of Misanthropy to mark the start of an ongoing theme. Following Basilysk tradition, I embedded the Hex of the Eternal sun - a hex that I created utilizing different aspects of a few standard Dutch hexes – into the cover of Emergence and several other places in the album artwork including the disc. I used twelve outer points to symbolize the 12 months of the year along with eight petals that each contains our beloved infinity symbol – eight being the number of Basilysk and infinity representing the eternity of those twelve months. The center (which you cannot see on the disc) is our Eight-8-Infinity cross. When all are paired with each other, you get an original symbol made to manifest great fortune for this band. 

That concludes my contribution to both Track-By-Track and Behind The Artwork. Thanks for giving me a chance to explain myself and give the world a better understanding of the album and Basilysk as a band. This should provide readers with enough food for thought and show fans of metal that there are still bands out there giving it their all to bring them new music worth investing in. Please support Basilysk and pre-order our new album at our bandcamp. Emergence will be unleashed worldwide February 22, 2019 in CD and digital formats. Hallelujah.

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