Oh boy! I have been waiting for the opportunity to write this article for a long time. Welcome to the beginning of my series on the best and worst of scratchy band logos. This summarizes the months (day?) I spent researching and analyzing what makes a good scratchy logo, and what does not. Scholarly sources were scoured and myspace pages were loaded and unloaded with a frequency that would intimidate someone whose full time job involves loading and unloading (like moving men or male porn stars).
To keep the integrity of the exercise intact, I tried to select only bands that play some type of core music because the scratchy band logo, or at least the term ‘scratchy band logo,’ seems to apply mostly to them. Perhaps in the future I will apply the same concept to death and black metal logos. Also I felt that it would be much easier to shamelessly rip on bands that I don’t enjoy (Spoiler alert! Oceano‘s logo is TERRIBLE!).
Before I begin, let me first state that I have never created a band logo like these, and I probably wouldn’t be very good at it if I did. Illustration is not my strong suit. To be honest most of my criticism of the letterforms in the logos is coming from my background in graffiti, and I wasn’t very good at that either. But don’t let my shortfalls ruin the fun. If you can’t do then teach, and if you can’t teach, then mercilessly criticize.
In the first installment (out of four I’m thinking), I’m going to start with the bad, but not the most baddest. That way I can test the waters to see if my opinions result in an inbox filled with death threats. It will also give the chance for any patrons of HeavyBlog to suggest bands that I may have missed so that I can check them out and possibly include them in a later article in the series.
As with music, art and life itself, there is a lot more bad than good, so here goes. These are the worst scratchy band logos numbers 10 through 6.
10. UPON A BURNING BODY
I enjoy the left half of this logo very much. ‘Upon’ is dynamic, full of action and kind of quirky. ‘Burning’ feels the same way. It’s like the designer thought the band was called Upon Burning until the lead singer called him and was like “dude, you need to read the emails we send you.” What I’m trying to say is that the “A Body” portion of the logo falls flat on it’s face. The designer probably felt guilty about making such a huge boner, so they did a little extra work and added the weird goat/ram/cow skull. It took a few views before I realized it was actually supposed to be a skull. Before that, it always looked like a man hunched over spreading his tentacle arms, which would have been cooler. I think the inclusion of shading for the skull’s eyes would have gone a long way toward making it actually look like a skull.
9. BORN OF OSIRIS
This logo is so, achingly, close. The texture going on around the B and the O is interesting and kind of different from the canned textures that are usually painted over scratchy logos. I’m pretty sure that the curlicues are from Bickham Script, which is a default Mac font, but I’ll let that pass because we’ve all used those at least once when trying to make something look fancy. At this point the logo is looking good — then they had to go and add the ‘siris.’ Why are the letters so far apart? And what is that weird octopus amoeba creature attacking the ‘sir’? These are mysteries I can’t even begin to solve. If the kerning in the letters of ‘Osiris’ had been kept the same as in ‘Born’ I think it would have looked fine. The octopus has no relationship to the letters and detracts from the overall look and readability. Fucking bow down.
8. I DECLARE WAR
My first issue with this logo is that the D and the L are super weak and the whole thing is fairly hard to read. They seemed to have no problem jamming the letters in ‘I Declare’ together into an unreadable mess but they included a gaping chasm between E and W. If you’re going for dense and illegible, word breaks ruin the mood. I’m sure the artist was trying to achieve a bloodstain vibe with all the splatters and such, but for me the overall texture is more reminiscent of a the final seconds of a bukkake video.
7. I YOUR LIEGE
This is a band that I really like. Their EP was probably my favourite release of last year so it hurts me to do this. But this logo is so overblown and unnecessary. First, there’s the grey drop shadow behind everything which I hate hate hate. When I was a young designer, I realized that there are three things that make your work look awesome while you are creating it, and then like crap when you finish it. Those things are outer-glows, transparency and drop shadows. Thankfully this logo didn’t go for the triple threat, but the the drop shadow is bad enough that it might as well have.
Then there’s all these poorly placed curls. Used correctly, swirly shapes can be awesome, but here they just stop and start randomly. There’s no relation to the letterforms, it looks like the artist was out of ideas and threw them in at the last minute to fill up empty space. The last issue is the giant G and the floating final E. The logo reads like I Your Lie GE, but that’s a minor nit-pick compared to the more glaring problems discussed above.
6. A DIFFERENT BREED OF KILLER
This one isn’t terrible by any means. On the readable scale it’s less than stellar but at least all the letters are unique and the entire thing is fairly balanced. However there is a lot of garbage around the B and the K which makes them look like an F and an R respectively. There is also a problem with how the word ‘killer’ is slightly smaller than the rest, I think the logo would have much more impact if the width was uniform across the whole thing. The crooked baseline is a major piss-off, especially because the top line is relatively straight. It looks like the piece of loose-leaf it was originally doodled on was ripped at the bottom.
I saw the biggest problem when I looked at this logo the first time and now, with every repeat viewing, it’s all I notice. Designing a logo like this, with so many E’s and F’s means that, unless you’re very careful, there’s going to be some swastikas in your logo. The ADBOK* logo is full of Nazi propaganda. Maybe I’m the only one who sees this, in which case I’m scared for my sanity, In my defense, the day I started writing this I had just read an article about the Nazi branding guidelines. Nevertheless, in my mind any logos resembling swastika shapes are an automatic F minus minus in my gradebook.
*On a sidenote, I think ADBOK would be a cool name for a band, maybe Buckethead could be involved?
That’s all for this week. Join me next week for more good times, as I start counting down the best scratchy band logos.