I'll throw in my two cents, since I missed this.
Image is only the means
to a given idea, and is not meant to be the idea itself, unless it's a deliberate symbol. This should be taught and emphasized in every art course, but sadly, art is "whatever you want it to be". Just like when you ask that hooker on the street corner her name - it's whatever you want it to be, baby. Five bux.
When artists start using image for itself, not understanding what image is for in relation to the damn artwork, that's when we start to have problems artistically -- when you can understand this, you'll see this pervasive problem everywhere.
But otherwise, an idiot couldn't tell the difference between a shit band and a good one, because they're focused on image. These idiots will take image and mutate it into a grotesque caricature of its original source. Here's a pitiful example of how far-flung this thing can get.
This is sort of a good thing, actually. Because only a moron would take such a thing seriously.
Same thing happened with black metal. Varg looked at least like he was in for "serious business" in the picture where he's posing with the mace, but a lot of imitation black metal acts try for the whole goffik TOUGH hot topic sort of thing.
It doesn't mean we shouldn't abandon image completely, we can probably even use image to redirect retards to where they belong (the incinerator), if we don't want to use image to at least convey our ideas and truths more effectively.
It's loosely like some Hindu philosophies, where your deity of choice and their image are entirely optional to the religious experience. It's only to give your mind a certain foothold, if you need it. If you don't need it, but you want it, and you already have it, you can probably use it to take you in further. It's a matter of pragmatism.
As an aside, I also believe it's strange as to how people think you can like death metal or black metal because of how everything "looks". When I began listening to this music, I was largely blind to what all of the music "looked like", I only listened to it and felt it and saw forms manifest on their own in my head.
A lot of the stuff I've shown people looks "boring" to them because they've seen spikier and more illegible band logos or something. They're scratching their heads when they realize that the music itself carries its own weight and makes up for the "lackluster" image. Hell, the image starts to make more sense in the context of the music.
That's it = the music happens to be there with the image to bring it to life. The music doesn't need an AWESOME album cover to not suck, unlike 98% of all other music.