NEW YORK — It was billed as the event of the year ... for metalheads, at least. Members of more than 30 current and former acts on Roadrunner Records came together to rattle the baseboards at the Nokia Theatre on Thursday night for Roadrunner United, a celebration of the label's 25th year in the metal business.
The night's emcee, Hatebreed frontman and "Headbangers Ball" host Jamey Jasta, perhaps said it best: "You can't call yourself a metalhead or a hardcore kid without owning a Roadrunner record."
The metalheads in attendance — including "American Idol" runner-up Bo Bice — were treated to 23 cuts of classic and contemporary metal supplied by the night's core group of Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison, Trivium frontman Matthew Heafy, ex-Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares and Machine Head bassist Adam Duce. Throughout the evening, the players changed but the feel remained the same, often coming off like a glorified jam session by one of the metal world's most gifted cover bands.
The night kicked off with a brutal rendition of Biohazard's "Punishment," with the band's frontman, Evan Seinfeld, at the mic and on bass; Biohazard guitarist Billy Graziadei, Cazares, Jordison and Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser backed the "Oz" star. The highlight of the energetic New York hardcore opener was Jordison's pummeling, seemingly effortless work behind the kit. Next, Jasta joined Kisser, Cazares, Jordison and Slipknot bassist Paul Gray — who, like Jordison, was sans ghoulish mask and jumpsuit — for a pulverizing rendition of Madball's "Set It Off."
The New York hardcore theme continued for one more song, with Life of Agony's "River Runs Red." LOA singer Keith Caputo's small frame bounced around the stage in an elfin manner as he belted out the song his band is perhaps best known for. Deicide's Glen Benton filled in for Obituary's John Tardy during a vicious treatment of "The End Complete," while Tim "Ripper" Owens of Judas Priest, Iced Earth and Beyond Fear fame stepped into the falsetto shoes of King Diamond and Annihilator's Randy Rampage for Mercyful Fate's "Curse of the Pharaohs," King Diamond's "Abigail" and Annihilator's "Alison Hell" (all three additionally featured Annihilator's Jeff Waters on guitar).
Trivium's performance of "Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr" was one of the night's most scathing moments and featured Machine Head's Robert Flynn and Trivium's Heafy trading vocal duties. Seemless leader Jesse Leach, who left Killswitch Engage several years ago, rejoined his old bandmates — and his replacement, Howard Jones — for the band's "My Last Serenade." And H.I.M. frontman Ville Valo did his best Peter Steele imitation for Type O Negative's "Black No. 1"; the song also featured onetime Coal Chamber bassist Nadja Peulen.
Fans also witnessed several numbers from the album that inspired the concert, Roadrunner United: The All Star Sessions, being performed live for the first — and more than likely, last — time.
In between, Slipknot's Corey Taylor and Caputo hooked up for Stone Sour's "Bother," and Shadows Fall mainman Brian Fair emulated Soulfly's Max Cavalera during a cover of "Eye for an Eye." Following takes on Slipknot's "Sic" and "Surfacing" and Machine Head's "Davidian," Flynn, Kisser, Anthrax's Scott Ian, Duce and Jordison surprised the crowd with a potent, unanticipated edition of Sepultura's "Roots Bloody Roots" — a fitting end to a punishing display of metal and a testament to Roadrunner's far-reaching impact on the genre.
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