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Wednesday 27 June 2012


'Lovehunter' - Whitesnake (Chris Achilleos)

Back in those far-off, antediluvian times that marked my youth and when I first got into motorbikes and tattoos, I was also a bit of a head-banger – although I won't horrify you by posting photos of me with long hair! However, I did have quite a collection of hard rock and heavy metal (HM) records, some of which I still retain.

While chatting recently with a friend from that period in my life and who had shared my enthusiasm for this genre of rock music, we reminisced about the spectacular artwork featured on the covers of some of the classic albums, and I happened to mention one of my all-time favourite examples. Namely, the stunning artwork by Chris Achilleos for 'Lovehunter', British band Whitesnake's second studio album, released in 1979, which depicts a decidedly cryptozoological serpent dragon with long curved horns.

Another favourite of mine that I mentioned was the ornate Eastern dragon depicted on the title single from Bruce Dickinson's debut solo album 'Tattooed Millionaire', released in 1990, and also on a 'Tattooed Millionaire' t-shirt that I had long since worn out due to relentless wearing!

'Tattooed Millionaire' (single) - Bruce Dickinson

As a result, the conversation then veered into reflecting upon just how popular the dragon remains as a subject referred to directly or at least metaphorically in HM song titles. Intrigued, I have carried out some research into this, and here is a representative list of examples from bands all around the globe:

'Killing the Dragon' - Dio

'Magic Dragon', from German thrash metal band Sodom's third album 'Agent Orange' (released in 1989); 'Ride the Dragon', from American heavy metal band Manowar's seventh album 'The Triumph of Steel' (1992); 'The Dragon Lies Bleeding', from Swedish power metal band HammerFall's debut album 'Glory to the Brave' (1997); 'In the Dragon's Den', from American progressive metal band Symphony X's fourth studio album 'Twilight in Olympus' (1998); 'The Dragon's Lair', from Swedish heavy metal band Crystal Eyes' debut album 'World of Black and Silver' (1999); 'Black Dragon', from Italian symphonic power metal songwriter Luca Turilli's solo album 'King of the Nordic Twilight' (1999); 'The River Dragon Has Come', from American heavy metal band Nevermore's fourth studio album 'Dead Heart, in a Dead World' (2000); 'Killing the Dragon', the title track from American heavy metal band Dio's ninth studio album (2002); 'Heart of a Dragon', from English power metal band DragonForce's debut album 'Valley of the Damned (2003); 'Dragon Reborn', from Australian power metal band Black Majesty's second album 'Live Company' (2005); 'Where Dragons Dwell', from French heavy metal band Gojira's third studio album 'From Mars to Sirius' (2005); 'Dragonheart', from Danish power metal band Iron Fire's fourth full-length album 'Blade of Triumph' (2007); 'Chasing the Dragon', from Dutch symphonic metal band Epica's fourth album 'The Divine Conspiracy' (2008); and 'Daltor the Dragonhunter', from Italian symphonic power metal band Ancient Bards' album 'The Alliance of the Kings' (2010).

'Emerald Sword' (single) - Rhapsody of Fire

Other noteworthy examples include 'Tears of the Dragon', a critically-lauded, highly-melodic track from Iron Maiden's once-and-future front man Bruce Dickinson's second solo album 'Balls to Picasso' (1994); 'The Consummate Dragon', inspired by Smaug in Tolkien's The Hobbit, from American hardcore punk band Shai Hulud's second studio album 'That Within Blood Ill-Tempered' (2003); 'Dragon', from German heavy/power metal band Grave Digger's eleventh studio album 'Rheingold' (2003 – inspired by Richard Wagner's classical 'Ring Cycle'); and the various dragon songs contained in Italian symphonic power metal band Rhapsody of Fire's five-album 'Emerald Sword Saga' (1997-2004), inspired by the realms of high fantasy from the 'swords and sorcery' literary genre.

'The Dragon' - Vangelis (Terry Oakes)

Also deserving of inclusion here is 'The Dragon', appearing on Vangelis's unofficial studio album of the same title released in 1978, whose cover featured a stunning sea dragon depicted by Terry Oakes.

If there are any notable omissions, I'd welcome details.

'Symphony of Enchanted Lands' - Rhapsody of Fire


  1. Fun article but you forgot Jefferson Starship's Spitfire

    Always loved that album cover and lots of dragons within. In addition to Dance with the Dragon Spitfire also had St. Charles which had the lyrics

    There was China in her eyes In a silk and velvet disguise She was movin' like a lady Lookin' like a dragon princess.

  2. Thanks very much for this addition and link - much appreciated!

  3. I have also always been a sucker for good artwork. My own favourite artist is the great Derek Riggs, who produced all those classic 'Eddie' covers for Iron Maiden. I had the good fortune of picking his brain a few years ago when I interviewed him for Bizarre magazine and he is a truly humble bloke, blissfully unaware of the impact his work had on the career of Maiden, the metal genre as a whole, and countless fans all over the world.

  4. My favourite album cover including dragon imagery is "Grave New World"by Discharge.

  5. The Vangelis artwork looks like Cthulu.

  6. Ok third times the charm....the Vangelis album looks like Cthulu.