Metastazis is a well-known name in the metal art community. The French graphic design studio has done work for some of the best known and most loved names in the underground, including Watain, Morbid Angel, Tombs, Paradise Lost, Behemoth, King Dude, Mutilation Rites, Sunn O))) and many, many more. The artist behind the studio, Valnoir, is uncompromising in his approach to his art, accepting no modification or criticism of his work from his clients, stating in his studio motto that:
METASTAZIS IS ALWAYS RIGHT, BECAUSE OUR PROCESS AS A WHOLE IS LOGICAL, BECAUSE ALL OF OUR DECISIONS ARE JUSTIFIABLE IN ACCORDANCE WITH OUR OWN CRITERIA, AND BECAUSE WE OBSERVE A COHERENCE WITHIN OUR WORK…
COME FOR SOMETHING WHOLE, SOMETHING YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE, SOMETHING YOU WILL EITHER ACCEPT OR REJECT IN ITS ENTIRETY.
And while this may seem to some to be an extreme, even arrogant, approach to designing album artwork and posters, even a brief look at his new book, Fire Work With Me, a collection of his work spanning 15 years of dedication to the underground music community, will show that his vision is indeed coherent and powerful. Valnoir creates imagery that speaks to the depth of sound contained within its fibrous walls, the promise of pain and catharsis that the listener seeks therein.
Flipping through the pages of Fire Work With Me, which was released yesterday via Timeless, it’s easy to get lost in the striking imagery that graces its pages. From clean, symmetrical patterning to detailed illustration to digital manipulation of photography, Metastazis is constantly exploring new visual territory with each project. Some highlights in the book are the detailing of his use of alternative home made inks in screen printing, such as his own blood, human bone dust and master tape spools. Another intriguing project was the cover he did for Glaciation’s 1994, where he sewed battle jacket patches into a human body – a visual representation of how deeply one can identify with music. When asked whether these works were meant to shock, Valnoir says: “‘Shocking’ is definitely not part of my strategy, since I work in a niche that is, sadly, more shocked by homosexuality than by necrophilia.” Instead, he says, the use of such materials is about making sure that “all the elements involved in the conception of a piece [are] related to the message/concept/universe of the given piece.”
Fire Work With Me also explores some of his more intriguing collaborations and exhibitions. Working with Norwegian artist Morten Traavik, he traveled to North Korea to design artwork and shoot a video for a local accordian band covering A-Ha’s “Take On Me.” He is participating in a two-week art academy spearheaded by Traavik called DMZ Academy this June and for 2017, and also helped to organize a show for Laibach in Pyongyang, making them the first western band to play a show in North Korea.
All in all, Valnoir has already rattled quite a few cages in his short time on this planet. Fire Work With Me is a fascinating visual retrospective of the last 15 years of his often dark and disturbing design work, and is a book that any collector of underground metal artwork would be proud to own. You can pick it up from Timeless HERE, and flip through a few of its 276 pages below.