Mastodon were about to release their new album to follow up The Hunter and we at Metal Hammer decided to use this to showcase the stunning artwork created for the cover while also using the opportunity to show what, owners at the time, Team Rock and Metal Hammer could do as a package. We enlisted the photography skills of Travis Shinn and sent him with someone who could document the entire trip to Atlanta; Mastodon's home town. We were given 2 days of unlimited and intimate access to the band.
The artwork itself was created by Oakland-based artist Skinner and in some ways represents the cycle of life from left with it's vibrant and living scene to the right showing the decay over time. As a team we had to find a way of getting this on the cover itself so we came up with the idea of taking over the entire cover, as well as doing a 2 panel gatefold to it. The trick then was to make the art look good over these 4 panels as well as getting the band on the main cover to work in a conventional way to sell the issue.