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Pestilence announced their career retrospective album Levels Of Perception yesterday and fans noticed something a little… wrong with the artwork. Namely that it’s AI-generated schlock.

And frankly, I was gonna let it go and not write about it. Agonia Records clearly has a thing for AI-generated artwork these days given this and the Hour Of Penance record cover (good luck identifying a single thing on it), but then Pestilence opened their mouth.

For the sake of fairness, we’ll attribute this quote posted on Facebook to the band as nobody signed it: “How is the second cover way better than the first one.Please explain. The A.I. is everywhere.

“Are we so caught up in the past that that we do not embrace technology? Is recording with tape better than digital daws. Is taking a polaroid picture better than the newest tech phone? It’s still about the music and lyrics and that’s REAL!!!”

First of all, let’s not pretend like the AI artwork is even in the same universe as Consuming Impulse. Niall “Squeal” James did a great job with the classic artwork and put real effort and time into it. The artwork for Levels Of Perception feels like a few keystrokes before a lunch break and nothing more. Sorry, but artists (in the pen-and-paper world as well as digital) who honed their craft over the years shouldn’t be compared to… that. Doubly so considering the AI is using artwork and photography created by said passionate individuals to create – it’s not just making this shit up out of thin air (see Unleash The Archers‘ recent issues).

Second of all, those comparisons are dumb. Recording on tape and recording digitally require different skill sets that are equally difficult to master. Taking a photo with a digital camera and a Polaroid do as well. Creating AI art and actually honing your craft are not the same things. Not even close.

And finally, it’s a shame because Pestilence has had some great pieces of art adorn their covers over the years. Michał “Xaay” Loranc‘s work on Exitivm from 2021 (also on Agonia) is great, as is everything Pestilence put out between 1988 and 1993. But clearly Pestilence is cool with AI crap, and so is Agonia Records. It’s disappointing, but here we are in 2024.

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