Album Covers do a number of things. They either tell you a lot about what to expect in the album or they trick you into thinking it is something else only to deliver something completely different.
I love album covers ... especially well thought out ones or ones that shamelessly date themselves in the time period they were created. There are some of both of these in these selections (in no particular order).
Witchery, Witchkrieg (2010)
U2, War (1983)
*I like this one because U2's first studio album, Boy, seemed to have a similar looking young kid on it's cover looking innocent or, at least, neutral. To go along with War's heavy subject matter, the innocent kid now looks like an experienced foot soldier in Ireland's troubles.
Suicidal Tendencies, How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today (1988)
*there is nothing I love more then late '80s/early '90s Los Angeles, especially the gang clothes and the use of baseball hats as potential symbols of thuggery. ST was not necessarily a gang band (they just liked people to think so). Lovin' the old school mud-brown Pittsburgh Pirates hat and one-buttoned shirt in the background.
Megadeth, Rust in Peace (1990)
Iggy Pop, Lust for Life (1977)
*This cover is great mainly for how simple it is and how much you'd have to know about Iggy's insane past. To see a clean-cut, rather peaceful picture of Pop, ironically mixed with the title Lust for Life, is in stark contrast to his drug fueled past and insane presence on the stage when with Iggy and the Stooges.
Korn, Follow the Leader (1998)
*a purely revolutionary album cover for an album that has not aged well. If you didn't have this CD in your car or a poster of this on your wall when you were in high school (like I was at the time) you were considered an outsider. Even chicks listened to this!
Anthrax, Spreading the Disease (1985)
Hookers, Horror Rises From the Tombs (2011)
*the punk/thrash fusion band sounds like it belongs in a low budget '70s horror film (which is awesome) and their album cover for this effort supports the music Hookers provides.
Ice-T, Power (1988)
Blink-182, Enema of the State (1999)
*another seminal album of the '90s; the cover features the nervously titillating nurse played by once retired, now active porn star Janine Lindemulder.
Diamond Head, Am I Evil (compilation, 1987)
Slayer, Seasons in the Abyss (1990)
Metallica, Kill 'Em All (1983)
*I personally love the Halloween font.
Nothingface, Violence (2000)
*I thought that the simplistic reference to horror films of the 1950s was a nice touch considering Nothingface's brilliant album is all about the pop culture of violence.
Slayer, Christ Illusion (2006)
*this is an alternate cover of the album. The original showed Jesus in all kinds of uncomfortable positions.
Crom, Vengeance (2008)
The Absence, Riders of the Plague (2007)
King Diamond, Them (1988)
*this metal masterpiece is a concept album about a haunted house and a relative of a young boy who has just been released from an insane asylum. I don't think any album cover depicts the intensity and creepiness of the music contained on the disc/tape/vinyl like 'Them' does.
Spawn of Possession, Incurso (2012)
*this horror-opera, as I dub it, has the perfect album cover: pure insanity that kind of freaks you out.
The Sword, Warp Riders (2010)
*The Sword are kind of a heavier Led Zeppelin, playing a kind of nostalgic hard rock. And the album cover for their excellent album Warp Riders gives you that '1980s sci-fi paperback' feel that brings on nostalgia.