Big Al's Metal Review
What?s your metal dream team? If you?re a fan at all, you?ve put some thought into it. Probably spent late nights looking for the infamous Black Zeppelin tapes online. Dave Mustaine?s side project with the guy from Fear? Yeah, you hated it, but you own the limited edition digipak, with the sticker, no less. If music fuels your existence, you can?t help but wonder what would happen if you took parts of great bands and made a super-band.
Well, sometimes those dreams don?t come true. But what if you took four of the best songwriters in modern metal, and gave them free rein to create whatever they desired? With whomever, too; the only catch would be that their collaborators had to have released work on the trusted Roadrunner imprint. The result is a completely new album, with each of the four ?team captains,? all on the Roadrunner roster, writing and recording new songs, not covers. The performers they recruited for their ?team? had to have released an album on Roadrunner at some point in the last 25 years to be eligible to be ?drafted.? That?s the point of this album ? it is a commemorative package to celebrate 25 years of the label?s existence.
A label only thrives if it loves the music it puts out ? it?s clich?, but continues to drive Roadrunner?s success. It?s a love that works both ways, as today?s heroes summon forth legends from the label?s past on Roadrunner United. The result is one of the widest-
ranging metal albums released to date.
You knew that Joey Jordison (Slipknot) was a not-so-closeted death metal fan; I mean c?mon, have you heard ?Iowa?? But how about a track with Junkie XL? Matt Heafy, the 19-year-old wizard of Trivium, wears his 80s metal roots proudly on their debut. But a black metal fan? Yup. And how about Robb Flynn (Machine Head) recording the music for his hero, Max Cavalera? Sublime. Dino Cazares putting a little more Latin into the aggro of Chimaira and Devildriver? It?s here.
Not only does this all work in the most splendid of ways, there is also a sense that any of these songs could have been the jumping-off point for a solid album. In that spirit, Robb Flynn?s ?team? is the most recognizable ? all of his songs work in his trademark slicing and riffing. Getting Tim Williams, one of metal?s more underrated singers, to work with Flynn is a highlight of the album for me. Williams? metallic howl matches the spirals of Flynn?s guitar work, and bringing Andols Herrick (ex-Chimaira) back behind his kit is another cause for joy. The guy needs to get back into a band ? perhaps his music school training would work with the guys from V.O.D.
There are styles here that don?t appeal to me, but an album like this should put forth all of Roadrunner?s history. Glassjaw and The Misfits aren?t my thing, but they are for a hell of a lot of people. The air on this album, as brutal as it is, is celebratory, as it should be. If you think you love heavy music, and you don?t buy this album, you?re lying to yourself.
Before I go, I want to send out heavy, heavy props to Joey Jordison for getting James Murphy?s guitar back into the public eye. One of the true musical geniuses of the metal genre, James has had serious health problems, but thankfully looks to be on the road to recovery. Please check out his story and work at msanthrope.com/jamesmurphy. Much love and respect to you, James.