Credits: Ed Repka
Ed Repka, better known as King of Thrash Metal Art is quite an essential figure for this genre. Even though he does not consider himself a metalhead, his career exploded by doing album artwork for some of the strongest metal acts of all time – Megadeth, Death, Venom, Dark Angel, Nuclear Assault, Possessed, Atheist and many others. Ed Repka’s artwork deals with the hottest topics of the Cold War such as nuclear war & environmentalism , but on the other side it is also inspired by the 50s Alien themed movies and a lot of zombies (George Romero approves this!) He also did a bunch of artwork for the movie Mars Attacks which is the coolest thing ever! Ed Repka has a huge legacy behind him that outclassed most of other artists within the genre and beyond. His artwork brought those albums to life by giving the music a visual side that often conveys the idea that bands are pushing through their lyrics. Ed Repka’s breathtaking artwork was sold through millions of albums and T-shirts and his contribution to the rise of many legendary bands was essential. Therefore, with this article we pay a tribute to the King of Thrash Metal art and his finest pieces!
This album cover is like Terminator meets Mad Max. Pretty cool, right? Steelwing’s Lord of The Wasteland is some neat sounding Swedish heavy metal. It would be actually cool to drive and listen to this stuff!
Absolutely sick artwork! Stanley Kubrick would be proud if he saw the mastery of Ed Repka at work! Ultra-Violence’s Privilege to Overcome is straightforward thrash metal that will make you bang your head instantly! These guys are all about Clockwork Orange!
Crucifix? Check. Mutilated bodies? Check. Slimy greenish monster? Check. Album art for Traitor’s Knee-Deep in the Dead is just brutal! German thrash metal is getting stronger with bands like this!
Just look at this sick piece of art! And it would be hard to decide what’s more sick, all the mess at the surgical table or this band’s music! Condition Critical’s Operational Hazard is a prime example how thrash metal should sound like nowadays! New Jersey, East Coast style!
Now that’s an awesome album cover! A big-headed alien crushing its victim! So metal! This greenish-blue specter is eye piercing! Abiotx’s Straight to Hell is a nice dose of crossover/thrash metal you need! Raw and dirty!
Let the unholy carnage begin! These skeletons are not to be messed around with! Frade Negro’s Black Souls in the Abyss is an old school-sounding heavy metal band from Brazil. If you are looking for the 80s sound, this is the right thing for you!
Now that’s a hilarious album cover! Panico al Miedo is a pretty unknown Catalonian thrash metal band. The album art for their latest release Formador features some of the older Ed Repka’s characters, such as Death Reaper & Wolf. Funny but still neat album cover that suits the band’s thrash metal spirit.
Now that’s probably one of the most brutally descriptive album covers Ed Repka ever did. A big boobed lady committing suicide bombing with all the burning corpses and limbs flying by her… Simply brutal! And yeah, Untimely Demise is one of those Canadian thrash metal bands you simply cannot skip!
Well, it seems that all the creatures from the Ed Repka universe suffer from a Jack Daniels addiction! Evil Survives has some freakin’ cool album covers, but this one outdid them all! If this is what Hell looks like, then I’m in!
Post-Apocalypse world with soldiers in NBC suits killing zombies? Tons of radiation? Bombed buildings? After All’s Rejection Overruled has all key elements that every thrash metal album cover should have.
It’s morphing time! Who wouldn’t love to see some politician, standing at the UN pulpit while he transforms into some slimy alien, showing his true face? Ancesthor's Beneath the Mask is another facemelting thrash assaut that will kick your ass! ! Epic stuff!
In this album cover The Day After Tomorrow happened way back, in 1992. This is the perfect excuse to blast this masterpiece! Florida death/thrash at its finest!
Well…that’s one of the creepiest Ed Repka’s efforts if you ask me! Gotta hate the clowns, especially when they’re about to break your bones! And there’s nothing funny about that! Eliminator's Breaking the Wheel is a must for all of you who like thrash the brutal way!
Pretty awesome album art! This one is about all those conspiracy theories about reptilians, ancient aliens & other stupid stuff. But still. It’s a hell of an album cover! Deal with it!
Almighty HIRAX! If you thought that potatohead from the Raging Violece was weird looking, check the artwork for El Rostro de la Muerte! After all these years, Katon Pena & Hirax keep on delivering! Bay area thrash rules!
And VHS for all! It appears that the CD guy sent two headed monster to kill everyone on its path with a bunch of video cassetes. Nothing strange about that! If you’re up to some melodic thrash metal Pitiful Reign’s Visual Violence is the real deal!
Man! It can’t get any better than this! Ed Repka surely deliver an album cover worthy of the name Chemicaust! Thrash metal just can’t go without gas masks, and spewing of toxic/radioactive vapors ! The album cover for Unleashed Upon This World will melt your face off just by looking at it!
It seems that Ed Repka is a big fan of the 50s radioactive monster movies such as Them! .Whether this is the case or not, people with arachnophobia will not like this one! Ravage’s The End of Tomorrow will definitely put you in the mood for power/speed metal headbanging!
That’s a tasty album cover! Full moon, post-apocalyptic surroundings… I wonder how many seconds will it take for the werewolf to handle the pastor. Everything about this album cover is just amazing! Wild’s Calles de Fuego is another heavy/power metal release you should check out!
Hell yeah! The album cover for Hyades' And the Worst is Yet to Come shows the greatness of Ed Repka’s drawing talent! The main theme of this artwork is so on-spot! Radioactive mutant surfing the streets filled with radioactive waste and a nuclear reactor in the background… In the end, Hyades’ music fits the brutality of the album cover! And that gummy duck will make your day!
Another graphic depiction of terrorist suicide bombings. People engulfed in flames and a man catapulted from the bus … can’t get any brutal than this! Hexen’s State of Insurgency is a really underrated album! These guys should reform!
Nothing depicts religious brainwashing and the horrors of war than Sanctuary’s Inception album cover! Ed Repka was also behind Refuge Denied, but this album cover is better in our opinion and it follows the lyrics of the band perfectly! Rest in Peace Warrel Dane, you will be missed!
This is how the world will look like in the near future if we don’t do something about it. Burning Nitrum’s Molotov is Ed Repka’s take on a dystopian police state (never mind the skeletons with gas masks!) It really has this Black Mirror /Orwellian vibe that leaves no one indifferent. Shout out to Burning Nitrum! These guys rule!
Zombies roaming around the White House. What a sight! Ed Repka should really be contacted by The Walking Dead guys….that would be great! Music-wise, Fallen Man’s Mercenary is a blow to the head! Good luck with finding this album on Youtube!
Possessed’s Beyond the Gates is one of these weird looking artworks that you’ll end up looking at for hours! This one is unlike anything Ed Repka has ever done! Weird, eerie, creepy! Shoutout to Possessed! We are all waiting for the new album!
According to the album cover, zombies LOVE beer! Red Razor’s Beer Revolution is a funny looking album cover excluded of all the politics. If you are looking for a comic relief kind of band with hilarious lyrics, Red Razor is the thing!
Another classic album featuring Ed Repka’s work. From Beyond is an easily recognizable album cover, especially because of its pink background. Moreover, these weirdos from outer space are damn cool to say the least! Kam Lee and Rick Rozz delivered some of the best old school death metal albums of all time! Massacre rules!
Simply amazing! Another zombie-themed album cover, but there’s really something about it that separates this one from the rest. Merciless Death’s Evil in the Night is one of those fresh-sounding thrash metal albums that you shouldn’t skip!
One of the coolest album artwork ever done by Ed Repka. Winged alien carrying a terrified hottie…it just can’t get any cooler than this! Exeloume’s Return of the Nephilim is a perfect mix of Norwegian technical thrash/death metal! Just take a listen to these crazy, jaw-dropping riffs!
There is really something about this cartoonish looking album cover! The Death Reaper is on a highway to hell! And yeah, this is one of the many thrash metal bands on this list that you should check out! With Lost Society – fast, loud thrash metal is what you get!
An iconic album cover representing Uncle Slam holding a sign will work for food in a clearly apocalyptic surrounding! You gotta blame the Clinton administration for that, since the album was released in 1993. Cult release from a cult band! Uncle Slam’s Will Work For Food is an alltime classic album that every thrasher is fond of!
If Megadeth’s Rust in Peace was Ed Repka’s take on the Cold War, this one is surely about the George W. Bush administration war on Afghanistan and Iraq. The idea behind this album cover couldn’t have been more clearer! I double dare you to name all the politicians on this cover! Guillotine’s Blood Money is an uncompromising 2nd gen. thrash metal release worthy of your listen!
Repka did quite a few album covers for Suicidal Angels but this one takes the spot. Divide and Conquer represents a bloody battle between two puppet suit-and-tie guys surrounded by ape-looking zombies. Brutal! And yeah, Suicidal Angels rule the throne of Greek thrash metal ‘till this very day!
Another Ed Repka take on a Zombie apocalypse. Freakin’ awesome! And this album cover totally aligns with a band called Toxic Holocaust, that’s for sure! Hell on Earth is one of those 2nd gen. crossover thrash metal albums that carry the 80s vibe on and on! Without bands like this, thrash would be dead!
This is what your local pastor is doing to the people around you! He is turning them into mindless zombies! Repka also did the artwork for Gruesome’s Dimensions of Horror EP & Savage Land album, but there is something about Twisted Prayers that drew our attention!
Savage looking artwork! Another striking zombie themed album cover! Holy Grail’s Improper Burial is an epic sounding thrash EP! These guys need more recognition, that’s for sure!
Breathtaking artwork for Venom’s boxset Here Lies Venom! This is actually the very first Ed Repka’s artwork related to heavy metal bands and the one that kickstarted his career. If you take a closer look, you’ll see the notes saying: Born 1980...Died 1985. And that’s kinda the year when all the thrash bands threw Venom into oblivion (regarding the popularity). And just to make things clear, no Venom = no 80s thrash,death, black metal.
Magnificent album cover for a magnificent debut album by Florida death metal masters Atheist! Piece of Time stood the test of time, whether we are talking about the songs or the album artwork itself. According to the artwork, our time is up and wе’re going to bring ourselves back to the stone age! Hoorraaayy! P.S. Can’t believe that Achmed Sulaiman thing is still going on :D
Take a look at that bloody thing! Besieged’s Victims Beyond Any Help is one of the finest gory pieces of art and that’s a fact! This one irresistibly reminds of Cryptopsy’s Blasphemy Made Flesh album cover mixed with Sepultura’s Arise! Totally awesome in so many ways! If you’re up for some Canadian death/thrash metal, Besiged’s Victims Beyond Any Help will blow you to shreds!
One of the most political artworks Ed Repka ever did. The theme behind it is the absurdity of religious wars that consumed the whole Middle East. Terrorist guy vs Suit-and-tie guy holding bombs while standing on pile of skulls + burning a church and a mosque in the background with a glimpse of mushroom cloud. That says it all. Pick Your Side’s Let Me Show You How Democracy Works is the only hardcore band on the list. Their lyrics and music are as headcrushing as the album cover!
It was pretty hard to choose this one, since all three Austrian Death Machine album artworks were done by Ed Repka. But we chose this one, ‘cause what can be more metal than ex-Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger standing on top of pile of bones (and btw, he was preaching against GTA: San Andreas back in the day!) However, Austrain Death Machine is one of those bands that will put a smile on your face and make you watch some of Arnie’s classic movies again!
This one will always remind me of Megadeth’s Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying? artwork because of its purple-reddish background. Necro is the sickest dude on the planet Earth! And you know it! The Pre-Fix For Death features some of the most prominent names in metal as guests: John Tardy and Trevor Peres of Obituary, Dan Lilker of Nuclear Assault/Brutal Truth, Away of Voivod, Sid Wilson of Slipknot, Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed and others! Necro and his brother Ill Bill are heavy metal fans and it is no coincidence why they picked Repka for the artwork.
Enter, the 80s! Toxik’s World Circus is one of those Cold War era masterpieces done by Ed Repka. And it’s funny to see how these album covers are as relevant as they were back in the day! Nuclear reactor, jet fighters, clash of armies and a clown with a finger on the big red button…that’s so thrash metal! Music-wise, Toxik’s World Circus is arguably one of the best thrash metal albums of all time!
I’m glad this thing doesn’t have herpes! That would make it look even scarier than it is! Well, Vio-Lence’s Eternal Nightmare is a piece of history! Coming from the glory days of thrash metal, this artwork portrays the absolute madness that’s going on throughout the whole record. Some see it as one of the greatest thrash metal albums of all time, while others refer it as Rob Flynn and Phil Demel’s first band. No matter how you feel about it, Vio-Lence turned Bay Area upside down!
Well this one is a testimony to Cold War getting hotter & it may be seen as a reference to the Chernobyl disaster which took place in 1986. Mushroom cloud and people with burned faces running amok may remind you of the classic movies such as The Day After and Threads. People back then were living in the shadow of American and Soviet nuclear weapons. This album cover and the lyrics of the songs Nuclear War, Radiation Sickness and After the Holocaust reflect that. Nuclear Assault’s debut Game Over is one of these 1986 masterpieces that brought East Coast thrash metal to a next level! Danny Lilker, John Connelly, Anthony Bramante and Glenn Evans really had something to say with this one!
Another Repka’s magnificent brainchild! This album cover reminds us of disastrous effects of radiation exposure. It seems that the main figure on this artwork turned a blind eye on these issues (he actually has no eye pupils). So basically, people are enjoying themselves at the beach while radiation is burning off their skin. And they couldn’t care less about the nuclear reactors, nor the bombed buildings and jet planes in the background. But the most shocking detail on this one is in the right corner where mutated rats are drinking radioactive/toxic waste. Songs Annihilation of Civilization and Future Shock deal with pretty much everything that was going on in the Cold War. The overall message of Annihilation of Civilization is clear and simple – We’ll destroy ourselves and the rest of the world by our own wrongdoing.
Oh Boy! It seems that the driver packed up all the zombies in the truck and went downtown for a party! And the guys in NBC suits are so freakin’ cool-looking! No matter what’s going on in this artwork, it looks really great! And yeah, it features’ Ed Repka’s recognizable blue-orange- purple specter that can be seen on a bunch of his drawings. Municipal Waste’s Hazardous Mutation is one of these albums that gave a strong momentum to the whole crossover/thrash metal scene. 26 minutes of thrashing madness! This one is probably the finest Municipal Waste album along with The Art of Partying and that’s a fact!
It was really hard to pick between Scream Bloody Gore, Leprosy and this one! But we gave advantage to Death’s third album – Spiritual Healing. The main theme of this artwork is absolute Christian lunacy which envelops the society. Freakish Bible-holding Christians and their wicked faces will leave no one indifferent. Not to mention this bald, out-of his-mind guy in a wheelchair and a „bitchslap“ doctor who cares only about money. With Spiritual Healing, Chuck Schuldiner got rid of silly blood & gore lyrics and focused more on a sociopolitical issues that bothered him at the time. As the album title suggests, Spiritual Healing shows how sick and on how many levels the society we live in really is. Some of the lyrics, like Living Monstrosity deal with „crack babies“ – phenomenon caused by crack epidemics. The song Altering the Future is Chuck’s take on abortion, death penalty and corruption within a judicial system. Defensive Personalities is about multiple personality disorder while Within the Mind deals with the power of subconsciousness. Spiritual Healing is Chuck’s take on religious brainwashing/fanaticism, killing in the name of God. Lowlife needs no further introduction while Genetic Reconstruction has probably one of the sickest lyrics on the whole record. This one deals with eugenics, abuse of science through human experiments, technology taking over etc. It also that Chuck Schuldiner’s Orwellian vision of future may be described as “1984 meets Equilibrium“:
Producing a race of human machines
A new age of existence the world will see
Replacing what is real by using technology
Population control, selecting those who will breed
A specific type of form chosen for the unborn
A mind without emotion
Evolution in Production
The final track Killing Spree is about a “human bomb” and his killing spree. Spiritual Healing closed the chapter of Chuck Schuldiner’s old school death metal phase. The rest was history. RIP Chuck Schuldiner!
And we have a winner! It was really hard to make our mind, since Ed Repka drew 6 Megadeth covers: No More Mr. Nice Guy split, Holy Wars…the Punishment Due, Hangar 18 singles, Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying? And the Rust in Peace albums + for the Rusted Pieces video. They all rule, but there’s really something about Rust in Peace that makes it shine just like that green thing in Vic Rattlehead’s hands. This album cover is a reference to Hangar 18 and it shows prominent Cold War politicians such as president of America George H. W. Bush, General Secretary of the Communist party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, President of West Germany Richard von Weizsäcker, Japanese prime minister Toshiki Kaifu and British prime minister John Major (but the actual figures on the album cover don’t match John Major, nor Richard von Weizsäcker). However, they’re in Hangar 18 on a secret meeting with an alien body in front of them. The album got its name after a bumper sticker Dave Mustaine came across titled: May all your nuclear weapons rust in peace! The album itself covers a variety of topics such as war, politics, + environmentalism and nuclear issues – the hottest topics of the Cold War.
Holy Wars...The Punishment Due represent Dave’s view on religious wars around the globe. Hangar 18 was inspired by Nick Menza’s (RIP) interest in UFOs, Area 51 etc. The infamous Hangar 18 is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. Allegedly, in 1947 a UFO that crashed in Rosewell was brought to Hangar 18 at Wright-Patterson Air Force which „contained” UFO technology. There’s even a 1980 movie called Hangar 18. Take no Prisoners is about POW and the horrors of war. Five Magics is about the powers of alchemy while Lucretia, My Creation, Poison was the Cure and Tornado of Souls deal with Dave Mustaine’s personal matters (last two deal with his breakup with Diana). With Dawn Patrol Mustaine touched upon the issues of environmentalism and global warning. Rust in Peace…Polaris is about the problems of nuclear proliferation, nuclear war and its aftermath (i.e. nuclear winter). Oddly enough, nuclear issues were put under the carpet as soon as the Cold War ended (did it ever end?). UGM-27 Polaris is a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM, not ICBM, Wikipedia is lying to you!) brought to you by the Lockheed corporation. In the end, the whole Rust In Peace album announced the end of an era, whether we are talking about thrash metal or the Cold War. This album featured Megadeth’s classic album with Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman on the guitars (it could have been Dimebag Darrel (RIP) and Jeff Waters of Annihilator), David Ellefson on the bass and Nick Menza on the drums (RIP).
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So, what were your favorite albums covers on the list? Did we miss something? Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comment section down below and let the shitstorm begin!
P.S. You can buy the official Ed Repka merch here: https://erepka.wixsite.com/repkasite1/original-art?fbclid=IwAR1kEbdIVFz51ZJ4yQWdYbwzc39CNsTig26Dl2ONHsxxAzVlmD8IIsiTw1o