Roadrunner Records have been a staple of the rock and metal community since 1980. They have released some of the most influential albums, some of which have even been considered groundbreaking. Their catalogue includes death metal, goth rock, punk, nu metal, hardcore, and almost subgenre of rock imaginable, and continue to put out some of the best new music today.
Trying to narrow down the highlights from such a variety of timeless albums is almost impossible, but below are ten essential releases on Roadrunner you need to track down.
Sepultura – Chaos AD (1993)
By 1993, Sepultura had really refined their sound, and after the crossover of death and thrash that permeated Arise two years earlier, Chaos A.D became an instant classic upon its release. There’s the low-end force of Refuse/Resist, the slow burning groove of Territory, and it was the point where the band started to bring their Brazilian heritage further into their music, laying the groundwork for their next album, Roots.
Machine Head – Burn My Eyes (1994)
Often considered ‘the one’ by many of Machine Head’s fans, Burn My Eyes is a masterpiece of ‘90s metal. Even the most jaded of fans who now say, “I only really like the first album,” surely get goosebumps once the harmonics of Davidian start to pierce through the riffs. This was Roadrunner’s biggest selling album, until a certain band from Iowa arrived…
Slipknot – S/T (1999)
Be it a bold statement or not, Slipknot have cemented themselves as one of the greatest metal bands of all time. At first, it probably seemed a big gimmicky; nine guys in masks and boiler suits, one of which was a DJ. Combining thrash metal, melodic groove, and dark electronics, Slipknot created an album unlike anything the mainstream metal community had ever seen before. Considered nu-metal at the time, yet on reflection, it was probably the first nail in the sub-genre’s coffin.
Type O Negative – October Rust (1996)
With nu-metal becoming the media’s favourite thing in the mid to late ‘90s, Type O Negative were stealing hearts with their own brand of gothic rock. Their magnum opus, October Rust included beloved tracks such as Love You To Death, My Girlfriends Girlfriend, Be My Druidess, and a cover of Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl. A dark and moody piece of work that has stood the test of time for over twenty years.
Code Orange – Forever (2017)
This may be a relatively new entry among a list of classic albums, but what Code Orange have done of modern metal gives them as much right to be here as anyone else. Their third album, Forever, is a prime example of what aggressive music should be, with no borders or boundaries. The blistering cacophony of jagged riffs and breakdowns is often broken up with bursts of power electronics or alternative rock melody, always off-kilter and throwing curveballs at every turn.
Exhorder – Slaughter In The Vatican (1990)
Digging into some of the lesser known albums in the catalogue, Exhorder paved the way for New Orleans groove metal with Slaughter In The Vatican. Crossing lines between death metal and thrash, they wax and wane from slow and sludgy dirge into burst and unadulterated aggression. It is often an overlooked gem, that deserved far more recognition than it received at the time.
Fear Factory – Demanufacture (1995)
With a combination of industrial beats, clipped and processed guitar riffs, and Burton C. Bell’s combination of guttural and melodic vocal, Fear Factory were an unusual yet intriguing beast. Demanufacture shattered the mould for mid-nineties metal, sounding as if they were sent straight from the future, and remained peerless. That machine gun drumming through Replica could punch straight your chest after all these years.
Glassjaw – Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence (2000)
As the 2000’s rolled around, metal was changing, and hardcore was becoming more popular with a wider audience. Glassjaw combined the two, adding alternative rock riffs and even a ‘90s screamo influence, particularly in Daryl Palumbo’s vocals. EYEWTKAS was an emotional, coming of age trip for the New York band that was beautiful as it was discordant. A truly game changing album that inspired a generation.
Life Of Agony – River Runs Red (1993)
Coming out of the fruitful New York hardcore scene in the early ‘90s, Life Of Agony added a more emotional channel to the macho posturing often associated with the sound. River Runs Red was a diary for Mina Caputo (then Keith) to open up about their troubled family life and upbringing, over a thick groove of thunderous guitars. Still able to draw emotion from even the hardest of individuals nearly 25 years later.
Mercyful Fate – Melissa (1983)
The debut album from Mercyful Fate introduced both them, and the unique falsetto wails of King Diamond to the world. They had succession of excellent albums, but Melissa still feels like the highest point in their career. Evil, Into The Coven, and the brooding title track that closes the album are slabs of heavy metal perfection that could summon demons.
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