XXX : Three Decades Of Roadrunner Records

Roadrunner XXXIf there is a name that is synonomous with the global Rock and Metal scene, then that name is Roadrunner Records. Over the past three decades the label has grown from a small Dutch outfit to a major part of the global Time Warner behemoth.

XXX is a retrospective zip through some of the highlights of the label’s output to date. Given the obligatory “deluxe packaging” treatment, the box-set is a good old fashioned object of desire, and that’s before you even get to the delights contained within.

The liner notes are well worth a read too, documenting Roadrunner’s history with quotes from label staff including Cees Wessels and  Monte Conner; and some of the artists who have helped make the label what it is today.

Right, very pretty, now onto the music…

The tracks on the 4 disks are loosely themed to draw together different aspects of the label’s output to date.

Roadrunner’s formative years are covered on the first CD of the set. It’s entitled “Foundations” and includes some of the tracks that helped the label establish it’s formidable reputation, with the likes of King Diamond, Obituary and Annihilator. If nothing else it’s a reminder of how much heavy music has stood the test of time.

Disk 2 is called, imaginatively, Horns Up and it documents the label through the 90s. It does feature the the mighty Nailbomb, but the rest of the stuff on is kind of a reminder why I didn’t really get that into that whole American (mostly) scene spearheaded by the likes of Slipknot, Machine Head, Sepultura, with some less remembered names like Ill Nino squeezing into the “90’s” era.

The third installment, And Metal For All is perhaps the most eclectic of the disks in this collection. In any compilation like this there will always be odd bedfellows but I don’t think there’s another compilation I’ve heard which has Cradle Of Filth and Porcupine Tree on the same disk. Throw in Heaven And Hell (The awesome Bible Black, obviously), Killswitch Engage, Opeth and Gojira (among others) and you have an odd mix with, literally, something for everyone.

I have to admit, this is my favourite disk of the four, it’s just so brilliantly all over the place stylistically and it shows just how wide the scope of Roadrunner’s output is.

The last disk in the collection is called Rock For The Ages, which gathers together the cream of Roadrunner’s hard rock output (yeah, I know, genre labels eh ?). but stretching from The Murderdolls to Rush and The Dresden Dolls to Korn Ft. Skrillex it’s another eclectic, but worthwhile, mix.

XXX : Three Decades Of Roadrunner Records is a fitting look back at the first 30 years of Roadrunner. OK, you’ve probably got a lot of the stuff already, and with the breadth of the label’s output there won’t be many who like everything on here, but it’s undeniably a fantastic introduction to Rock and Metal and a fitting look back at the story so far of the most influential label in the history of Heavy Metal.