Sludge/doom metal duo Bell Witch has recently completed work on their upcoming sophomore full-length album "Four Phantoms," which is currently set to be released on late April this year. Both the artwork and a new song taken from the record have already been unveiled to the public (The latter, entitled "Judgement, In Fire I - Garden [of Blooming Ash]" can be listened to here.). The former was created by Italian painter Paolo Girardi, who also illustrated album artwork for other bands such as Inquisition, Lycus, and Artificial Brain.

The cover artwork for "Four Phantoms" beautifully depicts an eerie image of an abstract, desolate landscape (There are technically four of them, but that's for the next paragraph), complete with gravestones and dead trees littering the background, where rushing streams and waterfalls carry a large array of sealed coffins, some of them falling into some unknown abyss. The scene this artwork creates feels vast and dreadfully atmospheric, and the hand-painted aesthetic and the monochromatic dust-brown color scheme makes the ambiance all the more stimulating. It's gorgeous to look at, and is definitely one of the most haunting album covers I have seen in a while.

On top of looking fantastic, the artwork also has an interesting manner of accompanying the music itself. According to an interview with Pitchfork, the whole cover illustrates and ties together the lyrics of the four tracks of the album; in each song, a ghost goes through some form of pain and suffering. This concept is expressed in the art in a very subtle and clever way, as when one takes another look at the cover, it is vaguely divided into quadrants to reflect the music's depressing themes. The sequence is as follows: The first is buried (Upper left corner), the second is burnt alive (Upper right corner), the third is drowning (Lower left corner), and the fourth is falling (Lower right corner). All of this ties together into a premise that is as dark and dismal as the breathtaking artwork itself, and I can't wait to hear the rest of the album and see what the lyrics themselves have to offer in terms of the cover's already disturbing themes.

Paolo Girardi's Website: http://www.paologirardi.it/

Band Interview with Pitchfork: http://pitchfork.com/features/show-no-mercy/9617-death-becomes-them-bell-witchs-doomed-ghost-stories/