Midgard – “We are the Destroyer”, installment 1 (guest post by Travis Boylls)

Album cover for Midgard's "We are the Destroyer", artwork and logo design by Travis Boylls

Album cover for Midgard’s “We are the Destroyer”, artwork and logo design by Travis Boylls

While I typically use this blog to discuss writing, and, sometimes, to opine on current events, it is time to talk a bit about another endeavor I am involved in – Midgard, melodic death metal band where I sing and play guitar. As our new full-length album is coming out on July 31st, we thought that we would share our thoughts on new album, our past releases, and the process of making this record happen.

Today’s post is a unique addition, as I would like to welcome a special guest for this installment – Travis Boylls, who is both the lead guitarist in Midgard, and a fast-rising artist and graphic designer. This is the first installment of posts discussing the new album, and here, Travis talks about the new release, and about his process in designing the album artwork and the new band logo. Without further ado, welcome Travis – and follow Midgard on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/midgardmetal !

New Album

We are the Destroyer” by Midgard will be our second release with our current line-up. For this one we pulled out all the stops. Rather than record from home, we rented a studio and hired an audio engineer to produce it. This was the first album to feature some of my own musical contributions. All the lyrics where written by Alex Shalenko, but the music to “Storm Clouds Over Cydonia” and, “The Seed of Creation” was written by me. The digital release for this album will be July 31, 2015.

As with the last album, I elected to do the cover art and interior design. While much of the interior design is still a work in progress, the cover art is completed.

This was a challenging cover to do. Alex was the one that came up with the title, We Are the Destroyer. At first, I really didn’t like the title. I thought it sounded too cheesy. The rest of the band wanted to keep it so I was out voted. What makes the title sound a little ominous is it’s use of the word “Destroyer” (singular) instead of “Destroyers” (plural.) What does it mean? As Alex put it:

The title was actually inspired by a PC game Dawn of War (it is the stock language for Chaos troopers), where it refers to the concept of primordial gestalt entity – in terms of the album, it is a reference to the quantum physics concept of multiverse, and the idea that at every decision point, we create alternate universes branching off from this one. What if we do something else – our collective choices make this universe the only possible one, and we as species are that gestalt destroyer of infinite possibilities?

It’s confusing. I guess you could say it’s open to interpretation.

Perhaps one of the more difficult tasks was just coming up with an idea for the album art. With an name like “We Are the Destroyer,” you almost need to include some destruction in your artwork. Yet, the lyrics really weren’t about destruction all that much. In fact, songs like “The Seed of Creation” (which is about the birth of the Universe) have the complete opposite meaning. “The Seed of Creation” also makes mention of the Tree of Yggdrasil from Norse mythology. The tree on the front of the album is representative of that. If anything, the albums lyrics of the album seem to have a destruction-followed-by-rebirth” theme.

While I did the artwork for the album, it was a collaborative effort. Alex had a particular color scheme of red and blue. in mind. Ryan wanted the tree. I came up with the ruined buildings and the river. While writing the lyrics, we talked a lot about quantum mechanics, and the possibility of multiple realities. This is represented by the two semi-symmetrical images on either side; as well as the river which represents waves of possibilities

New Logo

One of the major things that needed to be changed with the new album was the logo. I never liked the old logo. Apparently, Alex paid someone $20 to design the old logo over 15 years ago. I thought it was ugly and difficult ro read. I didn’t even think it fit our style all that well. I always wanted to design a new logo for the band.

We debated for a long time about whether or not to replace it. While I didn’t care for the old logo, there is value in staying loyal to a logo. People start to identify with a logo after a while. This is true for a band, or a corporation. Logos work best over the long term. Creating a new logo can be a bit like changing horses in mid-stride. Nonetheless, I felt the band had out grown the old logo and that it was time for something different.

One of the things I love about designing logos for metal bands is that metal is one of the few places where you can be purely artistic. Metal bands will often place aesthetics over legibility. This was definitely true of our last album. We decided that just because you can a logo unreadable, doesn’t mean you should.

As the name Midgard comes from Norse mythology, I began to study Norse runes for inspiration. The “M” and the “A” are derivative of Norse runes. I also drew a lot of inspiration from logos from 80’s metal bands. Logos that had a huge, epic look. It was important for me that the logo be able to accommodate a variety of styles and color schemes. It needed to be adaptable to whatever we decide to use it on.

Computer Graphics

One of the biggest technical improvements on this album is my use of Computer Graphics; also known as CG. The previous album Satellite was primarily done using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. For this album, I decided to construct a digital-3D model.

When I began designing the album cover, I sketched a quick drawing in Adobe Illustrator. From there, I decided to upload the drawing into Blender 3D and see how difficult it would be to model out the image in 3D. I quickly found that it wasn’t too hard at all. Plus me and the guys really liked how the software was able to simulate the water in the river. It was then that I decided that this was how I was going to do the album cover.

The CG process is fairly technical. First it involves having to create all the objects in the scene. These are called ‘wire meshes.’ It’s a little like sculpting. After that begins the texturing process. This involves UV unwrapping the object to create a flat spread of the entire object. From here I upload it into Photoshop to add texture and color to the objects.

I software also simulates lighting. I needed to set the lighting. . This scene required carefully controlled lighting to maintain the split color scheme. Texture maps can also be applied to the objects to control how they reflect light as well. It was a very fun project.

I software also simulates lighting. I needed to set the lighting. . This scene required carefully controlled lighting to maintain the split color scheme. Texture maps can also be applied to the objects to control how they reflect light as well. It was a very fun project.

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