1990s hardcore’s love for Gustave Doré

Gustave Doré is one of those 19th century artists that gained international fame while being alive. Especially British publishers loved the illustrations of this French artist and commissioned him for works like The English Bible, Milton’s Paradise Lost or Dante’s The Divine Comedy.
A century later quite a few, mainly European hardcore bands showed their love for Doré’s illustrations. He is one of the artists whose works were repeatedly appropriated for hardcore graphism and that from the 1980s on – with a peak between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s.

His work first got into the limelight of hardcore in New York on a flyer for a The Mad show in 1980. But one of the real forces behind the prominent use of Doré’s work on hardcore covers is Good Life Recordings. Five of their outputs display a Doré illustration – some of them must-haves that carried the new school hardcore wave in the 1990s – especially in Europe.

Morning Again Hand of Hope, 1996,
Length of Time Approach to the New World 1998,
Arkangel Dead Man Walking 1999,
State Craft To Celebrate The Forlorn Seasons, 2000,
Integrity Sliver in the Hands, 2005 (also released on German Dockyard1).

The artwork of these five records was done by Onno Hesselink, guitarist for Nations on Fire and nowadays art director for marketing agency Luon, together with Good Life Recordings’ founder Edward. It seems that Edward Good Life’s love for “medieval black metal” at the time carried over to the covers of the records he put out – but that’s a guess. Emperor’s Self-titled LP (1994) or Dimmu Borgir’s For all did (1995) for example feature a Doré illustration. Whatever it is, Doré’s work mirrors the huge metal influences of the bands decorating their sleeves with these works – not only those put out by Good Life. Even if Doré’s illustrations might reflect the musical influences, the extreme use of images from the The English Bible is on the other hand quite interesting considering 1990s hardcore anti-religion stance.

Here’s a total chronic of the appropriation of Doré’s works on hardcore record covers throughout the years; a chronic that largely benefited the work already done by the people over at Unityhxc.

1980 – The Mad- Flyer for show at Max’s in Kansas City — [Doré-Dante] by Screaming Mad George
1982 – Bad Religion-How Could Hell Be Any Worse?(Back)-Epitaph — [Doré-Dante]
1991 – Bloodline-The Waiting Game-Takeover Records — [Doré-misc]

flyer-the mad-max-s-kansas-city-7-30-80bad-religion-_how_could_hell_be_any_worse_back-cover-gustave-dore-dante-alighieri-divine-comedybloodline-the-waiting-game-cover-gustave-dore-newgate-prison-exercise-yard

1994 – Culture-Culture (Demo)-self-released (Front/Back) — [Doré – English Bible]
1996 – Morning Again – s/t 7″ – Intention Records –[Doré-Dante]


1996 – Morning Again – Hand of Hope – Good Life Recordings –[Doré-Dante]
1996 – Sektor/Vitality Split – Sobermind Records (Front/Back) — [Doré – Bible]


1997 – Dawn of Orion – Eternal Twilight – Self-released — [Doré – Milton]
1998 – All Out War – Truth in the Age of Lies – Gain Ground Records — [Doré – Bible]
1998 – Length of Time – Approach to the New World – Good Life Records — [Doré – Idylls of the King]

gustave-dore-milton-paradise-lost-nine-days-they-fell-book-vi-line 871gustave-dore-la-sainte-bible-jugement-derniergustave-dore-idylls_of_the_king_the-knights-progress

1999 – Arkangel – Dead Man Walking (Inlet) – Good Life Records — [Doré – Milton]
1999 – Deviate – State of Grace – I Scream Records — [Doré – Bible]
1999 – Drowning – Self-titled (CD interior)-Released Power Productions — [Doré-misc]


1999 – Sentence – Prefection Through Disfunction 7″ (Front/Back)- Tomcat — [Doré-Dante]
2000 – Statecraft – To Celebrate the Forlorn Seasons (Front) — [Doré-Bible]

gustave-dore-dante-alighieri-divine-comedy-the-vision-of-hell-the-inferno-canto-v-5- lines-137-138-sentence-perfection-through-disfunctiongustave-dore-dante-alighieri-divine-comedy-the-vision-of-purgatory-canto-ix-9gustave-dore-holy-bible-began-to-build-a-vessel-of-huge-bulk

2002 – XMaroonX – Antagonist (Front/Back) – Catalyst Records — [Doré- Bible/Milton]
2004 – Denied/Beatdown Fury Split – Live in Sin…Face Death in Judgement (Back) – Filled with Hate Records — [Doré-Dante]


2003 – Bloodstain – The Fall And Rise Of Certainties – (Front/Back) – Stillife Records — [Doré-Milton]
2004 – Denied/Beatdown Fury Split – Live in Sin…Face Death in Judgement (CD) – Filled with Hate Records — [Doré- Dante]


2005- Integrity – Silver in the Hands of Time (Front) – Good Life Records — [Doré-Milton]


Illustrations Gustave Doré from: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Gustave_Doré, gutenberg.org, victorianweb.org, catholic-resources.org
Record covers/flyers from: allmusic.com, ihatemusic.org, xonetruthx.blogspot.com, lastfm.de, amoeba.com,
spirit-of-metal.com, discogs.com, sanitizedjapan.blogspot.com, discogs.com

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  1. Just came across this page, and wanted to point out one minor correction: Morning Again’s use of Doré’s illustration (I believe it’s 29.4 Bertran de Born, from Inferno) was not Edward Good Life’s doing (I know you said that was just a guess, but…)

    Morning Again’s use of that illustration preceded the Good Life Recordings “Hand of Hope” release, as it was first used on the Intention Records “Hand of Hope” 7″ (the one you show to the right of the Good Life release: http://harshforms.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/morning-again-hand-of-hope-gustave-dore-dante-alighieri-divine-comedy-b.jpg )

    Anyway, as a hardcore fan, band-guy and designer, I’m happy to have stumbled across Harsh Forms!

    • Marion HFs

      Many thanks for pointing this out, Damien! It should be all good now.

  2. Dear Harsh Forms, I am an Art Historian. I have written many books about Gustave Dore. I am now writing a book on Dore Dante, with a chapter on Dore art used on music covers. I want to credit your wonderful article. What is your name? Was this article written in 2015? I now have hundreds of LPs, CDs, etc. with Dore covers. I have catalogued literally thousands of music albums with Dore cover art, with no sign of decreasing. I will soon be 70 years old, but I was very much into popular music and writing music in my youth. I note that both STYX and Jimmie Spheeris featured Dore’s art on their 1972 debut LPs. The earliest LPs with Dore covers were Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty and Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, both from 1951, the year I was born.

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