Upheaval of Priapic Might: Album Art & the Male Member
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I, like many men the world over, am obsessed with my penis. I am fascinated with, enamored of, and very attached to it. Yes, it is odd-looking, bothersome, and lacking in social graces, but then again, so am I. Over the centuries, men’s investment in their penises, and objects of an extremely phallic nature, has become a staple of displaying a brash sense of power. One has to only look at the Eiffel Tower, the Washington Monument, or Big Ben (heh, Big Ben) to know that mankind (not humankind, mind you) considers a definitive statement made through an oblong structure with a tapered end.
Given its often male-dominated culture and love of power themes, metal has a rather obvious interest in phallic subject matter. This, however, can often become a point of contention when it comes to the imagery surrounding metal music and metal’s overly masculine facade. To think with and harp on one’s Johnson is totally fine, but to depict it visually is in some way gay, and such an image should immediately be replaced with a buxom woman in little to no clothing. Anyone who was, or knew, a boy in high school remembers that this is not an uncommon practice; a group of teenage males will draw dicks on anything and everything. There are, however, a few intrepid bands who have chosen to brazenly adorn their albums with sleeves of artwork involving wieners. Taking a look at these album covers, besides giving us a momentary chuckle, allows us to understand why one would or would not use an illustrated penis as a selling point for a record. Let’s review.
Tattoo rendering of Regurgitate’s Carnivorous Erection
While this album cover—a woman about to perform fellatio, having her tongue bitten by a penis that literally has a mouth full of sharp teeth—is more about horror than hetero-normativity, it does display an interesting horror story in a genre known for dark tales. Most people are familiar with the nightmare concept of the vagina dentata (made famous in the absolutely awful horror film Teeth). Well, Sweden’s Regurgitate pose a scenario where a penis bites back. Reading the lyrics, which include the always charming phrase “I can smell her cunt”, it seems that the band has used this hungry phallus as a poorly-chosen metaphor for uncontrollable male lust, showcasing one’s dick as a hungry entity all its own that one has regrettably no control over. Then again, this might be my elaboration and not their intent; the words and image surrounding the album show significant sophomoric tendencies. Extra points go to the fact that it has an ear.
Cannibal Corpse – Vile
The name says it all. The male genitalia on the cover of Cannibal Corpse’s fifth album sits nestled in a writhing pile of maggots spilling from the stomach of a creatively-mutilated body. The lack of a lower torso implies that this penis has been severed, or that the body around it has been eaten away. More so, the fact that it has yet to be “Devoured By Vermin” suggests it is more disgusting than the rest of the body. The use of a penis here is to do what Cannibal Corpse do best—shock and repulse people with unbelievably horrific imagery. What’s going on here that’s especially interesting, though, is an affront on not only outsider squares, but also their primarily-male fan base, both by making them witness a part of another person’s body that they claim disgusts them more than others, and by planting in their heads the concept of their own body being ravaged rather than that of some poor nameless woman.
Motörhead – Sacrifice
Hold on, there’s no cock on the cover of OH, WAIT. That’s right, the tongue of Motorhead’s classic War-Pig is in fact a penis, head and all, on the cover of the band’s 1995 full-length. At first, this image presents a few unsettling questions (mainly, for this writer: was the War-Pig’s tongue ALWAYS a dick?). However, looking closer at the cover as a whole, one begins to see where the phallus fits in this picture. The throat opening behind the tongue looks distinctly like a vagina, and the surrounding imagery—man going to war as demons cackle, and the Reaper sweeping these pathetic masses away—suggests that lust and procreation are intrinsic parts in the never-ending cycle of death and conflict that makes up human life. More so, the penis’s prominence in the apocalyptic War-Pig’s image further implies that male aggression, which thrusts out and destroys rather than accepts and nurtures like the womb, is primarily to blame for the sorrow of humanity. Anyway, have fun un-seeing this every time you look at this album.
More members and album art on the page to follow…