This year Roadrunner Records is celebrating its thirty year legacy as one of the best record labels on the planet by releasing XXX: Three Decades Of Roadrunner Records (which you can get HERE). It’s a four-CD anthology of everything we love about the home of metal and why we stopped listening to Atomic Kitten in the first place. If you’re unfamiliar with Roadrunner and why it’s integral to metal, we’ve put together this sampler for you to find out why they’re still on top.
Slipknot – Eyeless
Anyone who discovered metal in the late 90s/early 00s had a Slipknot hoodie and was ready to rage against their teachers in any way they saw fit. But these guys were more than mask-wearing mother-scarers, Slipknot were and still are one of the most exciting bands in metal and push the boundaries from straight-up headbanging territory to some of the darkest and most twisted noise ever committed to record (see: Iowa). Eyeless is a testament to how heavy a band can be while still incorporating rap, drum & bass and lyrics inspired by a homeless man.
Mercyful Fate – Evil
That. Wail. If you know nothing about Mercyful Fate you’ll know the ghoulish frontman known as King Diamond who’s far more evil than he receives credit for. His face is covered in inverted crosses and his microphone stand is made of human bones – not so bad-ass now are you? Mercyful Fate paved the way for black metal with their corpse paint imagery and occult-based lyrics. Evil is the opening track from their 1983 debut Melissa and is the best example of what Mercyful Fate are all about.
Sepultura – Roots Bloody Roots
Any metaller worth their leather jacket knows this song. Max Cavalera’s original incarnation of this band produced some of the gnarliest, most politically-charged metal of the mid-90s and the album Roots was vital to the scene that followed – even DJ Lethal was on this album. Roots Bloody Roots has one of the most powerful three-word choruses you’re ever likely to hear and when played live it’s the best way to take a pint to the face if you’re too close to the front. Proper fight music.
Kvelertak – Mjod
Something slightly less heavy now from the Norwegian punk ‘n’ rollers, Kvelertak. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it, they don’t since in English either, but that doesn’t stop them tearing it the fuck up on their 2010 debut. Not only do they like playing balls-out, ripping hardcore but they’re big believers in heavy drinking and sporting beards which is fine by us. The chorus to this is undeniably massive and we find ourselves singing along despite not knowing what we’re saying – we’re probably calling ourselves cunts.
Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
From Norway to France now, Gojira have been on the verge of ‘breaking’ the metal scene for scene and last year’s album L’Enfant Sauvage saw that happen. This relentlessly thrashy yet technical brand of heavy metal sends our ears into spasm – the drumming alone is enough to cause a seizure. We saw these guys at Bloodstock this year and they pissed all over every other band on stage that weekend, if you haven’t checked these guys out we can’t recommend them enough.
Karma To Burn – Ma Petit Mort
A French song title again but by a band firmly from the States. Karma To Burn are one of the most underrated stoner metal bands and it was only their reformation in 2009 that led to an outcry of “Oh yeah, they were actually good!”. Similar to Melvins, the pace is kept chuggy and ideal to smoke to. Considering music was going the way of nu-metal in the late 90s, KTB’s self-titled debut in 1997 stands out as one of the strongest metal releases of the time as it was nothing short of different and tighter than a gnat’s arse.
Glassjaw – When One Eight Becomes Two Zeros
Back before emo became a dirty word, bands like Glassjaw were finding their feet by merging post-hardcore, punk, metal to create something unique and 2000′s Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence was the result. The band’s passion oozes through the speakers and the erratic structure of the music only adds to what makes this band one of the game-changers in 21st century rock. Yeah, back when nu-metal was all over Radio One, all this shit was kicking off.
Machine Head – Aesthetics Of Hate
Machine Head have gone from strength to strength with their past few releases and despite 2011′s Unto The Locust being the most accessible of the bunch, it’s this vitriol-filled wall smasher that from The Blackening that sees Rob Flynn and co at their most vital. It’s a direct response to journalist William Grim who wrote an article basically slagging off Dimebag Darrell after his death – which is a pretty dickish thing to do, William. Machine Head came hitting back with this stampede of metal snarls and distortion that leaves you screaming “I hope you burn in hell” repeatedly.
Trivium – Like Light To The Flies
They might split opinion now but back in 2006 when Trivium dropped Ascendency everything changed. Suddenly these guys who were barely 20 were making decent metal music again and receiving media attention for it. They shot up the bill at every festival and ended up supporting Iron Maiden on a stadium tour on the basis of this album. Sure, they might not sound the same now, but you can’t deny how strong this record is in the new breed of heavy metal and Like Light To Flies is one of the reasons Matt Heafy is a household name amongst metallers – not only can he scream like a motherfucker but he can sing without sounding like a whiny ponce.
Death – 1000 Eyes
When Death decided to take their death metal roots in a more proggy/techy direction it split opinion amongst fans but 1995′s Symbolic was an important release as suddenly the production was ramped up and songs became more like events than a few minutes of bashing around. 1000 Eyes isn’t the most progressive of tracks on the album but it’s a definite evolution from the band’s rawer roots. It’s powerful, aggressive, and more importantly it’s Death. A band you should really listen to. Seriously.