Roadrunner RecordsWhatever your age and taste in metal, it’s pretty much a given that Roadrunner Records have played a part in your love of the genre. Whether it’s the proto-black metal of Mercyful Fate, the groundbreaking death metal of Obituary or Deicide, the 90’s crossover acts like Dog Eat Dog or Coal Chamber, the darker tones of Type O Negative and Opeth or the classic rock of Lynyrd Skynyrd that floats your boat then Roadrunner have had it covered during the last thirty years and this lavish 4-disc set brings you some of the highlights of those legendary bands and albums (and Dog Eat Dog!).

The first disc concentrates on the heavier end of the label’s output, with tracks from the likes of Carnivore, King Diamond, Obituary, Deicide and Annihilator. All worthy of a place in any extreme metal hall of fame but peppered amongst the blastbeats and growled vocals are some other purveyors of heaviosity, with Biohazard’s ‘Punishment’ and Life of Agony’s ‘Through and Through’ adding some New York hardcore to the mix. Type O Negative’s ‘Christian Woman’ still stands up as a monolithic slab of gothic gloom but amongst the speed metal of Whiplash and the grinding death metal of Brujeria it’s a different kind of heavy. That’s what Roadrunner do.

Depending on your age, disc two is likely to be the pooches plums when it comes to a metal compilation as the 90s is given a good going over, with Sepultura’s ‘Roots Bloody Roots’, Coal Chamber’s ‘Loco’ and Slipknot’s ‘Spit it Out’ leading the charge. The tracklisting also runs into the 2000’s with Machine Head’s ‘Imperium’ showcasing how the 90’s influence was blending into the new decade. And of course, what Roadrunner compilation would be complete without the Jam Master Jay remix of ‘No Fronts’? No, really…

Disc three brings us up to date with choice cuts from Heaven & Hell, Down, Megadeth, Killswitch Engage, Devildriver, Cavalera Conspiracy, Trivium and Gojira to name but a few. Nicely showing off Roadrunner’s vision of encompassing all strands of metal, this third disc contains some excellent modern metal anthems and having ‘Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr’, ‘Head Crusher’, ‘Bible Black’, ‘Inflikted’ and ‘Witchtripper’ on one disc really is a bit of a treat (if you still bang the drum for CD’s).

And so to disc four, where Roadrunner’s more hard rock oriented output is represented by some killer tracks like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ballsy ‘Still Unbroken’, Jerry Cantrell’s ‘Anger Rising’ and Korn’s dubstep adventure with Skrillex ‘Get Up!’. Maybe not as consistent as the previous two discs it does at least give a flavour of the label’s output other than hardcore metal, and Rush and Lynyrd Skynyrd on the same disc guarantees some repeat plays (again, if you still play CD’s). For the Roadrunner completist there’s even a Nickleback track on there, but your stereo/iPod does come with a skip button should you feel the need.

Naturally, to put on everything that your average metal fan would deem worthy of inclusion would take a lot more than four discs and there are always going to be certain acts left off (Misfits, Vision of Disorder, Amen, Black Label Society, etc.) to make way for the ‘essential’ ones but as a flavour of what the label has had to offer over the last three decades it does its job for the newcomers, although hardened metal fans will own most of these tracks already, the only benefit being to have them in one set but in this digital age of cherry picking tracks that doesn’t really seem to be a selling point any more. Despite the quality of the music it’s one for Roadrunner newbies or completists, really.

Roadrunner Records – Official website