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Pestilence announce AI generated tour poster + Album cover

a chicken
Fri, 23/02/2024 - 01:45

So, Pestilence just announced an EU tour, awesome! They accompany it with a poster they apparently teased last year, also awesome! As I dart my eyes across the poster looking for UK dates (there were none) I notice something... off. That crow in the centre's eye is miles away from where it would be on an actual bird's head? And the crows in the background? They seem to be mutating extra wings and feet? First the realization sets in, and then the disappointment.

I don't need to tell you that AI "art" is an affront to life itself, you're very smart and knew that already. And if you aren't in the know, you *do* have a working computer with a search engine, so you can find out that the opinion of artists is *overwhelmingly* against their lives' work being hoovered up and spat out by machines. There are of course outliers, like any creative space. Heck, I knew artists that were keen on making NFTs (Hindsight is 20/20. Supposedly.)

Pestilence are *more* than capable of commissioning real artists for their covers, posters, merch ect. They've been doing so and enjoying the iconic status of these covers for 35 years. You can see most of them on this site for goodness sake. One thing casual listeners might not know is that they actually got an artist to redesign the Consuming Impulse cover art for the Reduced to ashes tour 2019. It actually looks really great! I still have the tanktop, but sadly never got the artist's name.

In 2023 Pestilence shared a person's reimagined CI cover, this time with the help of an algorithm(?) The person has a name, social media pages, apparently knows how to 3D model, but also explicitly states his album reimaginings are made with AI to some degree. I don't know to what extent his posts are made with AI, but there's at least some human "touch" and credibility there. No disrespect to him of course.

Which brings us to today, where the band announced the upcoming album "Levels of Perception", a re-recording of their "greatest hits", but a reimagining... in some way... I guess? The band credits the cover artist as Peter Suchy. Haven't heard of him? Maybe look for a social media page? Portfolio? You won't find it. Peter Suchy, the named artist, doesn't exist. The cover image was made by an AI, and the band thinks you're stupid enough to not notice, going so far as to make shit up.

You starting to see the problem here? It started off quietly, but its becoming loud to the point it can't be ignored. By taking this visual vomit, and plastering it on their tour posters, and even more worryingly, an album cover, its not just a joke among friends, or a neat little gimmick anymore. By normalising AI to this extent, especially with a name as important to metal as Pestilence are, it tells fans and aspiring bands "hey, you can do this, its fine actually".

They see AI, the non-consentual leeching of actual artists' hard work, and the garbage it spits out, to be put on the same level of professionalism as art from real humans. Metal art didn't start with computer generated nonsense, and it won't be the future of it, no matter how polished or "close" to real art it can masquerade as.

If you have even the slightest speck of care for the people creating, designing, painting the art on the shirt you're wearing, every patch in your collection, all your favourite albums, *every bit of merch on this website*, then you shouldn't be supporting AI images at all. I implore anyone who's read this far; don't give Pestilence a cent for this tour, this album, or any AI generated rubbish they end up peddling in the future.

After hearing Exitivm, I was genuinely excited for Pestilence's future, this decision has shattered all respect I had built up for them. Congrats on ruining your legacy folks, hope it was worth it.

"Their will is the new norm
Hailing from outer worldly spheres
This invisible enemy is taking it's form
To claim, maim then disappears"

- Pestilence - Morbvs Propagationem

Strawberries_Messiah's picture

Man that sucks ): if a band I loved wanted some art heck I'd do it for free sucks they turned to ai nothing special about it

a chicken's picture

As much as I respect the work Pestilence made in the past, its important to remember that they're still humans, and capable of making stupid, rotten decisions. If there's any positive to come from this, its a reminder to never blindly accept crap from people with celebrity status, in any form of media/subculture. Kill your idols🤘

ThatBillyGuy's picture

That ai generated cover of consuming impulse is awful! I hope they don't ai generate anymore of there art cause this is just embarrassing.

a chicken's picture

Dudes lower lip looks like a worm😭😭 Patrick has made posts on his personal facebook and Pestilence's official pages in defence of the images, I don't think they'll be letting up anytime soon :/

Army of Dragons's picture

I fully agree with you. First Deicide tried getting away with AI art with Banished By Sin, and now this? I don't understand why so many of the more well known bands are choosing the AI route when they have the ability to hire visual artists for their album covers and other stuff. It's lazy, cheap, dangerously close to plagiarism, and AI art in general just looks like trash.

I really hate bands cutting corners like this. Artists should be working with other artists to create the best piece of art that they can.

As someone who was in college learning concept art, this is heartbreaking and horrible to see. :(

a chicken's picture

I didn't even know there had been multiple bands had done it until after this post💀💀Unleash the Archers and Kerry King are on this crap too.

You're spot-on though, these bands are ignorant of their fans' talents at best, and at worst, deluded to the point of thinking that a mishmash of numbers could do better artwork than any of them.

Army of Dragons's picture

It's sadly becoming a lot more common in the music industry. On Instagram, I've been getting ads to a bunch of different new and upcoming bands (Including metal ones) and I think about 90% of them used AI to make their 'own' album or single covers. It's not just the big and older bands doing this. So many bands on all levels are doing this now and it's really sad and annoying. :(

I've been following the Unleash the Archers situation for a while now. They tried training a single AI model on this one artist that they hired and got permission from (The artist in question is Bo Bradshaw). I believe it was only suppose to be for their new music video for 'Green & Glass' since that song dealt with AI. And while they tried to make sure that the AI model didn't take from other sources, it still did. The band made an apology post on their IG account, but what I don't understand is that they didn't delete the music video even though they admitted to using unlicensed work. If they were truly sorry and stuck to their word, they should have deleted the music video by now. But no, it's still up. 💀 So they are still making money off of unlicensed work. :/

a chicken's picture

Bruhhhh that's just baffling😭😭 "In our new music video we're gonna make a statement against animal abuse, to make our point we're gonna throw a bunch of guinea pigs into a blender" I had respect for them in the past too, one of the few power metal bands I had in my playlist :C

I'm slightly more optimistic than when I first wrote this honestly, a majority of the comments on Pestilence's announcements have been negative. There's more metalheads against AI images than there are in support, its just a matter of making the voices visible

Army of Dragons's picture

I feel you on that. I think as long as us metalheads are voicing our concerns and disagreements with AI art, then bands would have a harder time getting away with this.

MaxPerv's picture

Five stars for this post. I could not agree more. AI art is getting out of hand. If you look at Facebook, it’s saturated with AI generated pictures of little kids holding up their ‘drawing’ of a dog, or men sculpting Jesus statues out of sand on the beach, and amazingly most people are too dumb/ignorant to actually perceive that it’s not real, human art!

We are on a very slippery slope.

Pestilence made a really bad call doing this.

a chicken's picture

Agree with you too man, I've even seen ai generated kuttes in the battle jacket groups on fb too💀💀 going to start using Nightshade for all my future jacket uploads, the only way to keep AI out of metal spaces is to take a stand against it now 🤘✊

MetalNDN's picture

The band changed the album cover again I read at metal injection.

a chicken's picture

Yassss I saw that too, genuinely great news^^ clear cut case of how important it is to denounce AI, and to make your voice visible. If enough folks speak out against *any* obviously awful practice, it comes to a point where the voices get too loud to ignore. Fans can't kick out abusive members, cancel a pandemic show or change a fugly album cover by themselves, the decision has to come from the band. I'll admit and respect that Pestilence made the right call, and hope to god that history doesn't repeat itself.

Still not sure if I'll buy the "reimagining" album, I already have most of their catalogue physically or downloaded, but this is a huge victory for artists at large, hopefully other bands follow suit.🖤🤘

absolutedefiance138's picture

So fucking lame. Made even worse by their response to the backlash. The AUDACITY to claim the ai art is better than the cover to Consuming Impulse

a chicken's picture

Totally man, its especially disgusting when Squeal literally can't even put a word in for himself. I'm extremely glad this has been getting news coverage and that they backpedaled on it.

This whole debacle has been a humiliating stain on Pestilence's career, hopefully them and metalheads at large are wiser from this point onward. Regret is a harsh but fair teacher.

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