Shortly after revealing what the band claims to be the cover art for it's new album, Dance Of Death, fans flooded the official Iron Maiden message board with complaints (16 pages worth in the case of this one thread – and there are many more.) Skunk, the webmaster for the band's official site, insists that this artwork is real and is what will arrive in stores in early September, but some fans aren't biting – the rest are depressed.
Why the big stink over this artwork? Iron Maiden has long been known for its elaborate artwork, save for a few instances (such as X Factor and Virtual XI, both post-Bruce Dickinson albums that sported lackluster artwork in the eyes of most fans.) The image of Iron Maiden is forever tied to artist Derek Riggs' creation for the band, Eddie, who has adorned every album and single cover since the band's first release. Derek and band have since parted ways, but Eddie has remained as the band's mascot, being replicated by other artists in the spirit Riggs would have used. This time around, however, something is amiss.
In what the band claims is the real album artwork, Eddie is seen masquerading as the reaper, a scythe held in one hand and the other outstreched – to you – beckoning for a dance (of death, presumably.) This in itself seems fitting material for Eddie – who has characteristically acted out something associated with the album in question every time. What is so wrong here is not that Eddie is surrounded by people, but that these people have been rendered by a 3D program – Poser from the look of it. And it's particularly badly executed computer graphics, at that. So here we have a typical Eddie figure – painted, or created using paint-simulation software such as Painter – evoking the greatness of past artwork, yet surrounded by the cheapest and cheesiest 3D artwork to be found on a legitimate band's artwork.
But some fans are insisting that this is a joke – a poorly played joke, but a joke nonetheless. The band and webmaster aren't budging, but there are some hints here and there – this tour poster, for example, shows Eddie alone, with only one CG figure appearing out of the side of the poster. There have also been comments that the artwork that has shown up on EMI's site is different than what's been shown on the official site – the wolf's snout behind Eddie, one of the dancer's arms not around him. The artwork has even reached beyond music borders and put graphics guru at arms – as evidenced by this seven page thread on CG Talk.
So is this childishly executed artwork for real? Die-hard fans are practically having seizures at the thought, but singer Bruce Dickinson has slyly hinted that this may not be so set-in-stone. On MTV Europe's Headbanger's Ball, Bruce is reported to have indicated that fans won't see the real artwork until the release date, indicating, in a roundabout way, that what's on the site isn't really the real artwork. We'll just have to wait and see, he says.
So what's the deal? Is it a joke on fans – and a way to expose the fickle fair-weather fans – or is it a ploy for exposure? The world – well, the portion that care about Iron Maiden – will have to wait, apparently. In the meantime, take a look at the great artwork we've seen in the past, below…
(And I'm really, really amazed that I spent the amount of time I just did researching this. You can see more nutty, wacky zaniness like this at unproductivity.)