To celebrate their anniversary, Roadrunner Records has graced us with The All-Star Sessions
, a compilation of the finest the label has to offer. While it is a mixed bag, I must say I was pleasantly surprised but much of what this record offers. With team captains ranging from Rob Flynn (Machine Head) to Matt Heafy (Trivium), Joey Jordison (Slipknot) to Dino Cazares (ex-Fear Factory), much musical ground has been covered. Every musician brings some of his influence to every song and the odd mixes of artists make each track something new and unusual. Everything comes together in a very heterogeneous mixture of various metal types, and is strangely appropriate given the bands Roadrunner has to offer.
The album seems to excel in the faster, heavier songs. The album begins more than promisingly with The Dagger
. The rolling double bass and catchy riffs work beautifully with the screaming of Howard Jones. Clean singing and overall solid musicianship make this one of the stronger offerings. The follow-up, The Enemy
, is better yet. After an acoustic intro the song blasts into a fast, heavy metal track. Growling and layered screaming give this abrasive headbanger a very unique tincture throughout, thanks to Mark Hunter and Andreas Kisser. Annihilation by the Hands of God
, with the infamous Glen Benton, definitely stands out in the crowd. This song is easily the most brutal on the album. Max Cavalera seems out for blood on Independent (Voice of the Voiceless)
, a song rivaling Annihilation
in terms of extremity, just as Baptized in the Redemption
is a savage death metal track from hell. Punk fans will enjoy Michale Gravesí showing on I Donít Wanna Be (A superhero)
Aside from the insanity, the sessions have some very commendable efforts in the melodic and mellow styles. Matt Heafy may not be The End
ís greatest asset, but the instrumentation (Logan Mader especially) is a sweet break from the unrelenting songs so far. A surprising pleasure was the joint effort of Rob Flynn and Corey Taylor on The Rich Man
, a song that has a subtle menacing sound to it. Corey Taylor seems more enraged than ever despite the un-infuriated music beneath him. Only the best could be expected from Mikael Akerfeldt on Roads
, and only the best was delivered. The only flaw to his incredible acoustic playing was that it lasted less than three minutes. Enemy of the State
seems to be an unusual title for such a subdued, melodic song. Pete Steele does indeed give the track a gothic feel. Tim Williams sounds very reminiscent of Shaun Morgan of Seether on the somber song Army of the Sun
For almost as many strengths as there are, we are given weaknesses. One can only wonder what the hell Roadrunner was thinking when they included In the Fire
, a song that makes me want to slowly dissect my own genitals. King Diamond is anything but appropriate among the array of heavier metal songs on the album. The same applies to Dawn of a Golden Age
. Apparently Dani Filth had too much influence, because it sounds as though Heafy was desperate to write a song for him instead of staying with something within his range, As much as I love Cradle of Filth, this song is horrid. Jesse Leach seems to imitate King Diamondís laughable showing in Blood & Flames
, a song that wouldíve fit perfectly had it not been for the soprano style singing. Despite its promising style, No Mas Control
came out a boring, generic song. Consitution Down
opens well with a flurry of guitar playing, but Kyle Thomasís voice again forces the song into the forgotten background.
All the musicians, songwriters, vocalists, etc. come together to write songs in every style thinkable. Itís a safe bet that youíll like at least one song on this, because most every musical base has been covered here. It all hinges on whom you like as well. If you donít like any of the bands on Roadrunner, youíll more than likely be disappointed. The songís style is greatly dependent on the songwriter, who is most often the team captain involved. In short, if you like Trivium, Slipknot, Machine Head, and Fear Factory, youíll like The All-Star Sessions
. Songs range from excellent to terrible here, so it will be rare for someone to like this release in its entirety. The selection of great songwriting and terrible ideas evens out in the end, but the final product is somewhat positive. I myself enjoy more than half of the songs but dislike several others, so I urge you to give this thing a chance!
The Rich Man
Army of the Sun
- Great variation among songs
- Selection of numerous genres
- Overall great musicianship
- Original ideas topped with interesting combinations of musicians
- Some songs sound as though the writing was done for another member of the team (ie, Dawn)
- Many vocalists sound out of place
- Occasionally boring and uninspired
NOTE: More information on the songs and musicians involved can be found [url=http://www.musicianforums.com/forums/showpost.php"p=10238166&postcount=41627]here[/url], courtesy of Jom.