8. The Downward Spiral - Nine Inch Nails
At first glance, the Downward Spiral seems to have one of the most minimalistic album covers in 90's rock. Whereas most bands were trying to wow you with their graphic design expertise, this record seems to just show what looks like a solid structure adorned with traces of mold and rust.
However, the idea makes more sense once you let the music sink in. The actual sound of the Downward Spiral reads like a diary of a broken man trying desperately to pull himself out of his self-imposed Hell. Thanks to Trent Reznor's production and songwriting, the album certainly makes you feel like you're trapped in your own headspace with nowhere else to turn. In that respect, this structure on the cover depicts the horrific nature of isolation and how it can wear on your soul.
The cover has always given off vibes similar to another minimalist album cover: Pink Floyd's the Wall. Both albums have an underlying theme of introspection while subtly showing the horrors of being alone. Compared to the prog giants' rock opera, The Downward Spiral is the Wall's nihilist younger brother, which foreshadowed a much darker sonic palette to choose from. It may be just a wall, but there is something much more sinister lurking just behind the surface.