Roadrunner United - The All-Star Sessions
Roadrunner Records
Metal Amalgam
18 songs ()
Release year: 2005
Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Cody

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Roadrunner Records, the highly controversial label that went from producing some of the best in underground thrash and death metal to becoming the leader in the much dreaded nu-metal movement of the late 90's, has released a new album celebrating their 20 year anniversary. Yes, I know what your thinking, its probably yet another marketing ploy to buy the same crap we already own. Well, this is not some lame compilation album like Century Media did, nor is it a set of live tracks or some best of. No folks, this is an album constructed entirely of original songs in a very interesting construct.

Roadrunner has done something that no other record company before them has done. They have accumulated talent from their very beginnings to their biggest modern talent pool, ranging from Exhorder to 3 Inches of Blood. Featuring many different variations of metal including brutal death metal, metalcore, thrash metal (both old school and new-style), nu-metal, hard rock, hardcore punk/crossover, traditional metal, goth metal, industrial metal, black metal and probably more that I missed. This is literally a schmorgisboard of metal and even the most devout elitist metalhead would be hard pressed to not find something on this record they did not enjoy. So what is so special about all of this

This album was written chunks by four composers: Rob Flynn of Machine Head, Dino Cazares of Fear Factory, Matt Heafy of Trivium, and Joey Jordison of Slipknot. The album alternates between tracks written by each individual. In addition to this, each vocalist chosen for each song is able to write the lyrics for the song they are being featured on. This is unprecedented in metal history and is quite an engaging listen as styles mesh together.

While I do not pretend to enjoy every song on this album, every song definitely was crafted with the highest musicianship. Even the songs that can be categorized as potential nu-metal are written well. I may not like everything on this album, but virtually all of it is well written.

Because every track is so diverse, I don't feel I could give this album justice by just giving an overview of the album. I am not usually one for track by track descriptions, but this album warrants it:

1. Featuring Killswitch Engage singer Howard Jones, this song is a metalcore workhorse throughout. While not demonstrating the same chops as a Killswitch album though, we are catered to more of a Lamb of God sound with limited soloing. By far not my favorite on the album, but its decent.

2. Out of all the tunes on this album written on Dino Cazares, I'd have to say that this is his best effort. All the songs after The Enemy sound like variations of Fear Factory songs. This one however, is more of a modern death metal approach with hardcore influences. Mark Hunter from Chimaira displays some powerful vocals that stand out from his work with his own band.

3. While The Enemy a modern sounding death metal song, Annihilation by the Hands of God, written by Joey Jordison, is an old school death metal song catered to Glen Benton. This is by far one of the highlights of the album. This song blew me away. If you are into death metal, you will love this song, simple as that. Joey truly shows his metal drumming chops in this tune.

4. And now, for the best song on the album, feating King Diamond himself on vocals, In the Fire is about as metal as they come. This is Kind Diamond with a youthful energetic band supporting him doing what he does best. If you are a fan of Kind Diamond, you MUST hear this song! Quite impressive!

5. Unfortunately from King Diamond, we are ushered into the worst song on the album. While listening to this song, I was immediately whisked away back to high school listening to the latest nu-metal tune on the radio. This is horrendous doo-doo.

6. Ahhhhh, nice. We are back on the right track now with Tired 'N Lonely. Keith Caputo's vocals are the focus on this mesmerizing hard rock tune. This is such a great song and really stands out on its own amongst a sea of heavy metal. I love this piece!

7. Whoa! Anybody remember back in the day when Max Cavalera sang some kick ass thrash tunes with a little band called Sepultura? Well if you missed Max in his glory days, or thought he lost his touch because of his less than stellar Soulfly, you need to immediately check this out for some old school Cavalera in action! This is old school thrash at it's finest! And did I mention it features a Jeff Waters solo?

8. Dawn of a Golden Age is Cradle of Filth personified, simple as that. With Dani Filth on vocals, this song is absolutely catered to his band. However, there are a few surprises thrown in that Cradle of Filth would probably not throw into one of their songs. Good stuff!

9. I am no fan of Corey Taylor's vocals, especially his work in Stone Sour. However, The Rich Man, while not being significant, is surprisingly listenable. This takes quite the aggressive approach and wouldn't be caught dead on a Stone Sour album, which is fine by me. This is by far nu-metal, and if you can't tolerate that genre, you probably wouldn't like this.

10. Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw in a song that stands out more than Tired 'N Lonely. THis is not metal, and definitely not your typical hard rock. Upon first listen, one might judge prematurely that this is emo because of the vocal style. However, once we are lead into the first chorus, this song is much, much more complex than any emo song out there. Palumbo's vocals are excellent and add a fabulous flavor to this piece.

11. Dez Fafara formerally of Coal Chamber, is the centerpiece of Dino Cazares' Baptized in the Redemption. A watered down death metal tune that just happens to feature some fantastic death vocals by Dez. Nothing special, but Dez brings his stuff to the table for sure.

12. Roads is a 2 minute song beautifully composed by Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt. If you are familiar with Opeth's stuff, this will not be any surprise to you. However, what is interesting is that the only instrument is the keyboards which are composed ever so elequently by Josh Silver of Type O Negative.

13. Simply put, Jesse David Leach, best known for his work on the first two Killswitch Engage albums has quite the singing voice. While many metalcore vocalists strive to have decent melodic interludes, Jesse excels at melodic singing throughout an entire song. This is probably one of the better tracks on the album because of its immense melodies combining both modern rhythm guitar with old school soloing by Matt Heafy. Definitely a powerhouse track that many a metalhead can appreciate.

14. Oh dear god...Kyle Thomas of Exhorder, Rob Barrett of Cannibal Corpse, Andy La Rocque of King Diamond, James Murphy of Death and Obituary, Steve DiGiorgio (who needs no introductions) with his fretless bass, and Joey Jordison on his drumset ALL COMBINED PLAYING OLD SCHOOL THRASH!!!! *faints* This is a godly tune that makes me proud to be a fan of thrash. Kick ass vocals, fantastic drum work, amazing rhythm guitars. I think I am going to replay this one again...and again...and again.

15. Punk punk and more punk! Michael graves, formerly of the Misfits brings out his a-game in this modern punk rocker. This song truly gives off an oldschool The Offspring vibe with some decent harmonizing. Another track that is out of place, but completely welcomed!

16. Filler tune, nothing really outstanding. Decent melodic vocals throughout the song, especially during the choruses. Nothing really outstanding out this one, a better than average nu-metal song.

17. Another filler song that could probably be mistaken for a Fear Factory tune had it not been for the annoying vocals by Machado. This isn't horrible, but it isn't exactly good either.

18. Any fans of Type O Negative out there? You will have died and gone to heaven as this is absolutely Peter Steele at his best in a superbly written song by Joey Jordison. This song probably rivals the King Diamond tune; there is just something about Steele on this song that makes it enchanting.

To conclude folks, each song on its own is nothing absolutely groundbreaking. However, as an album, this is entirely groundbreaking! A collection of metal superstars has never been gathered before to pay homage to so many different sounds. I had so much fun listening to this album from the first to the last song. This is what Probot should have been, what an accomplishment for Roadrunner Records!

Killing Songs :
Annihilation by the Hands of God, Constitution Down, Roads, Enemy of the State, In the Fire
Cody quoted 85 / 100
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