Album review: Roadrunner United: The Concert

Roadrunner Records’ legendary all-star birthday jam gets revisited on stunning live album…

Album review: Roadrunner United: The Concert
Nick Ruskell

In October 2005, to celebrate its 25th birthday, legendary U.S. metal label Roadrunner Records threw an ambitious two-part family reunion. First, an album, Roadrunner United, featuring music written by four of the most talented and game-changing alumni from its stable acting as ‘team captains’ (Machine Head’s Robb Flynn, Slipknot’s Joey Jordison, Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares and a then-19-year-old, prodigiously gifted Matt Heafy from Trivium), and performed with an army of other faces from the label’s quarter-century of noise.

It was followed by a gig at New York’s Nokia Theatre that December, at which even more artists joined in. Specifically, 39 players from 25 different bands did a turn, from Machine Head and Sepultura, to death metal OGs Obituary and Deicide, Danish Satanic icon King Diamond, goth metal daddies Type O Negative, New York hardcore heroes Biohazard, Madball and Life Of Agony, as well as Trivium, Glassjaw and Killswitch Engage among others. A nightmare on paper, the night firmly proved the breadth and scale of Roadrunner’s impact on the landscape of heavy music.

Eighteen years on, this special edition live document of the concert still sounds ferocious. Buoyed by the sense of occasion, these songs are played as if their constituents’ jeans are on fire, but equally, the simple fact of a setlist loaded with such iconic bangers is excitement itself anyway. And again, hearing Life Of Agony’s River Runs Red rubbing up next to Sepultura’s Refuse/Resist, or King Diamond’s spooky Abigail, Annihilator’s arse-kicking Alice n Hell, Slipknot's (sic), Fear Factory’s Replica, Killswitch’s My Last Serenade and Deicide’s ludicrously intense Dead By Dawn simply shows just how much important stuff has come out with the label’s name stamped on it.

Likewise, the mix of bands performing one another’s music – Mina Caputo guesting on Stone Sour’s Bother and making it her own, Ville Valo taking on Peter Steele’s role for Type O’s Black No. 1, or Robb Flynn ripping through Slipknot’s Surfacing – highlights how complete and iconic these bands are, that a mix of musicians from all through the label’s history can come together like this, in various configurations, and make these songs explode.

A one-off night, never to be repeated, not least because, sadly, not everyone on the team is with us anymore. Still, the big four-oh is just around the corner. Go on, Roadrunner…

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Machine Head, Sepultura, Slipknot

Roadrunner United: The Concert is released on March 10 via Roadrunner

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