North American extreme metallers, I Am The Trireme, will be releasing their brand new album “Gnosis: Never Follow the Light,” on Spring of 2015. Despite being months away from such an important career event, the Philadelphia-based quintet is already making some serious noise about it. The first of many carefully-planned efforts to promote the album is the unveiling of the album’s cover artwork. In order to make this happen, the band joined forces with Metal Band Art and the Facebook community And Justice For Art Today, we’re exclusively showcasing for the first time, this graphic which features a semi-nude female surrounded by darkness and cryptic imagery.
In addition, I am the Trireme’s vocalist, Jay Briscoe and guitarist Alec Pezzano (who also designed the artwork) were interviewed exclusively for Metal Band Art. They revealed crucial details about the artwork, its meaning and the new musical direction the band is taking with “Gnosis: Never Follow the Light.”
In your personal opinion, how important is “Gnosis: Never Follow the Light” for the musical development of the band?
Jay: I believe this album is extremely important. It very well could be the defining moment in I am the Trireme’s career. Not only were we able to musically progress as a band, but we were able to shake the genre/label and create an album that was a direct reflection of where we are in our own personal lives.
Can you explain the meaning behind the album’s title and how it relates to the lyrics and the cover art?
Jay: “Gnosis” pertains to the totality of ascension and enlightenment in the true darkness that surrounds us. It highlights the distorted and poisonous views of the world powers whether it’s political or popular religion in a progressive culture. The artwork reflects those themes in symbolic ways.
Your guitarist, Alec Pezzano, is a skilled graphic designer with plenty of experience in the field of creating album covers. Was the decision of having him designing this artwork, a no-brainer?
Jay: It definitely was a no-brainer to have Alec create the album artwork for Gnosis. We find it to be extremely beneficial to the band to have someone who is deeply invested and involved with the writing process. Alec understands the premises of the album and how we want to portray our message as a band.
Who came up with the cover concept and what inspired it?
Alec: I was really inspired by the album’s title and wanted to play with the idea of the juxtapositions between purity/beauty and suffering. I felt that right from the title itself, there’s an air of mystery, beauty, and pain that gave me a lot of room to try things.
Can you tell us more about the making-of process of the artwork and the medium/techniques you used?
Alec: I tend to work digitally, as I feel things can visually come together faster in that medium. Photoshop is my bread and butter. This piece was A LOT of composting different photos together and digital painting. I like to do what I call “Frankenstein-ing”; where I’ll take clips and little sections from several different photo sources, and mash them together to create form. I may use the base of one tree, with the roots from another image, plus some texture layers from something else, and then digitally hand-paint the branches and leaves.
How long it took you to finish the artwork from sketching to final rendering?
Alec: I’ve conditioned myself to work really fast over the years. Usually I’ll get something from a client, and two days later have a 90% finished piece for them to look at. When Jay and I talked about the title and vibe of the album, I think I instantly went to work and had a first draft of the album art within 5 hours. It was waaay too premature, and over the course of the next few weeks I slowly started to make changes, change my mind about certain things, and really let the final piece slowly rise to surface. I think in total I’ve been “working” on this piece for about 5 months; every couple days just sitting and staring at it, making tiny incremental tweaks, then flipping back and forth to see how I felt about it. You can imagine me at 2 am, sitting in the dark with the glow of my computer on my face just staring at these pixels in a trance-like state, and my girlfriend yelling “IT’S FINE..It’ll be there tomorrow! Give it a rest!” This is definitely the longest period of time I’ve given myself to work on a piece.
The image of a female body presented from the back is very recurrent on album covers. However, you have incorporated several symbolical elements that, to certain extent, set this particular artwork apart from others. Can you explain in detail the meaning behind the bloody hands, the elk antlers and jewelry hanging from it, etc?
Alec: Touching on the themes of purity and suffering, I had the idea of making the figure into a humanized White Stag. The White Stag from my understanding is a symbol of purity and an elusive messenger or omen in many cultures around the world. I felt that the combination of the Stag and a mysterious female form really spoke to the idea of beauty and purity, especially in the adornment of the antlers. I wanted the feel of the piece to be very “hyper nature based” in the sense of an earthy wooded yet slightly spirit-worldly feeling to the overall piece. There are also some anti-religious connotations poking into that imagery. The figure is tethered to this space and tormented by these dark vines and thorns enveloping her, though facing into the dark wooded background – I see it as the tired and weary, yet eager acceptance of pushing forward into the darkness and the unknown. I always tend to sneak symbolic imagery into my work, whether it’s the placement of something, or some small sort of message hidden into the artwork. It’s my weird sort of nod to the fans. When someone comes up to us and says “I noticed this in here and I thought it meant this…” I love that! It becomes an inside thing between us and the fans who find them.
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For this particular cover there are some new adjustments in the band’s logo. Can you comment about this?
Alec: We’ve had the same logo for a long time (since 2009), and while it’s served us well; we were ready to update things a bit. Gnosis really marks a period of great growth for the band, and we feel the new symbolic logo speaks more to where we are now. Our new logo features a less generic death metal font, cleaner layout, and our signature ‘Inverted MoonCross’ symbol that fans have really come to identify us by over the last 3 years. It communicates the theme of the album both visually and in spirit much better than our previous logo. I will also mention that the placement of our logo on the album cover also has some hidden symbolism.
Who’s the female model in the artwork?
Alec: The female is actually completely “Frankenstein-ed”. She’s comprised of 4 different body parts taken from 4 completely different sources (back, arms, hands, and legs). The hair was completely digital painting as well as all the blood and scarring. The dress was actually a sheet wrapped around a mannequin that I photographed and then altered digitally.
How did the rest of the band react to the finished artwork?
Jay: When Alec unveiled the artwork to us, we were ecstatic. I personally felt like the artwork was the glue that pieced everything together. I felt like we had an album before us, not just a list of songs.
Do you have a formal release date for “Gnosis: Never Follow The Light”? Are you self-releasing it or is it coming through a label?
Alec: We’re shooting for an early Spring 2015 release. Sometime around March/April. It’ll come through Dark Harvest Records . We’ll be releasing bits of material gearing up for the grand release over the winter, so check in with us via Facebook for all the new music, merch, and news surrounding Gnosis.