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Scene Points: Banned?

 by Chelsea Ide  published on Thursday, September 8, 2005

The fresher, less morbid cover./issues/arts/693731
The fresher, less morbid cover.
 
The older, more banned cover./issues/arts/693731
The older, more banned cover.
 

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Pubes did it for the Black Crowes on Amorica. The Goo Goo Dolls heard it for bloody lips on A Boy Named Goo. Now, Most Precious Blood is catching hell, too.

The album art for New York hardcore band MPB's upcoming album Merciless grossed out the wrong people. The United States distributor, RED Distribution, and the European licensor, Roadrunner Records, were ready to shelve the disc slated for release on Sept. 20 after seeing the cover art. It featured a realistic looking corpse -- we're talking green coloration, missing an eye and head tilted back. In an age of special effects and a slew of horror flicks, you'd think the distributors would know this was fake.

Apparently, they don't know corpses can't hurt you. Maybe they should watch "Night of the Living Dead," then they'd understand it's zombies who attack, not corpses.

In all seriousness, how did these industry folk decide this art was too much? Where is the line between gross and obscene?

"We had no idea this would happen," says Justin Brannan, guitarist for MPB. "It's [the art] real life, it's someone our age that just dies and no one cares enough to notice."

In the context of the message MPB tries to get across on Merciless the art makes sense. At least to Brannan.

"We've got World War III going on," he says. "We have no time for poetry and guitar solos. More than ever, hardcore should write that the end of the world can come tomorrow, instead most bands are writing like we have our whole life ahead of us."

So, this whole corpse thing makes sense. But the distributors didn't care. The ultimatum was handed down: change the art or find another distributor. With a push from label Trustkill Records, MPB pulled a sheet over the face of the corpse.

I'm at a loss for what it was about Merciless that offended RED distribution. Am I a huge fan of corpses? No. Actually, I found the art pretty gross, but I wouldn't have banned it. What confuses me about RED's decision is the company also distributes for Metal Blade Records.

The most repugnant album art I've seen in recent years is on Metal Blade artist Cannibal Corpse's The Wretched Spawn, which depicts three undead men surrounding a naked woman and her dead baby, a demon climbing out of her stomach with her intestines and blood everywhere and the creepy undead clearly enjoying themselves.

Not only is that vile, it's offensive to women. I know, I am one and I'm offended. Apparently, RED thinks mutilating women in album art is OK, but corpses aren't. The distribution company still works with Metal Blade and Cannibal Corpse wasn't forced to change its art. So, what's the deal?

One of the many reasons album art shouldn't be banned is simply that a rule like that can't be enforced equally. Some art will always make people uneasy, that's its nature. If it didn't get a reaction it wouldn't be as good.

Reach the reporter at chelsea.ide@asu.edu.



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