20 greatest Roadrunner Records bands, from Slipknot to Turnstile
From the legendary names to the new facesDecember 6, 2021
Since its foundation in 1980, Roadrunner Records has been a go-to name for outstanding established bands and a reliable home for new acts looking to ground their roots. Where metal has pushed its boundaries and changed its ever-evolving face, Roadrunner has supported and nurtured growth to new heights.
From carrying Slipknot’s career to the stars, where they belong, to fostering the growth of upcoming artists such as Turnstile and Dana Dentata, we’ve collected the 20 greatest bands, past and present, that have made and defined the Roadrunner roster over the years.
The underground success of first EP Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. in 1996 brought Iowan nü-metal misfits Slipknot into Roadrunner Records’ radar in time for their self-titled debut full-length three years later. Taking a chance on the outfit’s unconventional approach to metal with funk and jazz inclinations that they wouldn’t be seen dead trying out these days, Roadrunner fostered the birth of a metal sensation. The label has nurtured a relationship that remains strong to this day, seeing the band through three No. 1 albums and their debut’s double-platinum certification to make Roadrunner’s greatest success story.
Type O Negative
Type O Negative began their gorgeously gothic metal journey with Roadrunner for their timeless debut, Slow, Deep And Hard, back in 1991. Setting themselves apart from the rest of Roadrunner’s roster with their seductive basslines and Peter Steele’s unmistakeable brooding, the dark outfit would remain with their label until their penultimate album in 2003.
Motionless In White
After a lengthy period under Fearless Records, Motionless In White followed the success of 2014’s Reincarnate. It meant Roadrunner had captured the new generation’s hottest property, with two more albums rising from the grave. Continuing their chain of show-stopping releases with Graveyard Shift and Disguise, Roadrunner’s signing has extended their reign at the forefront of horror-infused metal.
Despite tracing back to the 1980s, metalcore hadn’t reached a widely successful level until the arrival of Killswitch Engage in 2000. The band sparked the new millennium’s rising interest in combining metal with hardcore to create a contagious but nonetheless heavy output. Signing on with Roadrunner for 2002’s Alive Or Just Breathing, the outfit would go on to drop five more albums under the label and come into their own as rightful metal behemoths.
Signing with Roadrunner in 2013 ahead of their debut, The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets, Marmozets asserted their potential with label bosses right before the floods of fans arrived at their door. With the inimitable tones of vocalist Becca Macintyre leading the charge, their signature brand of sassy melodic rock with a feminine bite has kept fans listening — and waiting — through two carefully crafted albums under the label.
After the Danish metal icons’ previous outfit Mercyful Fate opened their career with Roadrunner in 1983, it made sense to establish the now-iconic tales of King Diamond under the same care. The first five, and arguably the most memorable, eras of the riff-driven band’s career were with Roadrunner. Notables include Fatal Portrait and Abigail, which suitably established the chronicles of a metal legend still alive and kicking to this day.
Code Orange’s first major-label signing gave the genre-smashing metallers the signal boost they needed, settling with Roadrunner for the release of 2017’s Forever. Armed with their signature brand of mind-fucking hardcore-meets-metalcore, their partnership with Roadrunner led the Pittsburgh crew to chart success, metal industry awards and even a Grammy nomination.
Thanks to their debut, Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls, in 2002, Murderdolls became a spectacle that was impossible to ignore. Filthy industrial riffs, horror-laced lyrics and theatrical stage shows clashed together to create an aural onslaught so unpredictable, you simply couldn’t look away. It’s no surprise that their only two records dropped via Roadrunner, the home of metal innovation that captured a genre revolution just as it exploded onto the scene and introduced it to the talents of the late, great Joey Jordison.
Creeper’s potential was clear from their first eponymous EP in 2014. It led to a Roadrunner signing early in their career, just in time for their breakthrough EP, The Callous Heart. The rest has been exquisitely crafted history for the concept-driven Southampton, U.K. outfit, who have flipped through the checklists for horror punk, glam rock and Britpop ever since. In the process, they’ve climbed the U.K. charts with both full-lengths, Eternity, In Your Arms and Sex, Death & The Infinite Void.
For their ninth effort, Korn III: Remember Who You Are, Korn looked back to past successes and reunited with Life Is Peachy producer Ross Robinson. A marked departure from the keyboard-heavy Untitled in 2007, their first release under Roadrunner would prove to be what Jonathan Davis would later call their “biggest mistake” due to its forced lyrics. However, it laid the foundations for a relationship with the label that would support them through such ventures as the genre-bending electronic LP The Path Of Totality and 2019’s moving album The Nothing.
In This Moment
Dripping with gorgeous iconography and theatrical fervor, In This Moment have always delivered an intense experience, both live and on record. By the time their sixth album Ritual arrived in 2017 as their first Roadrunner release, the dramatic metallers were finally becoming accustomed to playing large stages that fit their elaborate stage props. Roadrunner took In This Moment under their wing at the right time, fostering their ever-rising popularity and giving their most recent record Mother the platform it deserved.
Hardcore’s most promising outfit Turnstile have set the bar almost too high for themselves with this year’s GLOW ON. Yet, their signing with Roadrunner promises to create even more momentous records for years to come. Dragging hardcore kicking and screaming into the present day with a renewed bite and contagious melodics, all this Baltimore crew need is a new Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game to showcase their talents to an even larger audience.
Starting their scene-stirring career under Roadrunner until they disbanded in 2002, Coal Chamber’s nü-metal credentials came endorsed by the label looking to foster a new generation as the hybrid genre rose to mainstream success. The band’s tumultuous personal relationships may have called time on their progress too soon, but the legacy of one of Roadrunner’s unpredictable success stories still thrives today.
Gojira’s signing to Roadrunner in 2011 ahead of their fifth effort L’Enfant Sauvage was a case of perfect timing. The outfit were entering a new era and pursuing the mainstream success that their approach to surreal heavy metal deserved all along. Ever since, each Gojira record has climbed the charts in their home country, the U.K. and U.S. Plus, their headlining tours are reaching larger venues than ever before. If there’s ever a success story to come from Roadrunner, it’s Gojira.
Nickelback’s third venture and their first with Roadrunner, Silver Side Up, burst open the doors of opportunity for Chad Kroeger and co. in 2001. Ever since, their most prolific years under the label brought about chart-stealing albums with The Long Road, All The Right Reasons and Dark Horse. Love them or hate them, the musical Marmite that divides listeners to this day have produced some of the catchiest anthems in rock for the last two decades. It’s propelled the band through the roof and cemented their place in music history up until their Roadrunner departure in 2014.
Supporting the vision of the next generation can be a stumbling block for established major labels already tied up in continuing the legacy of older bands. However, Roadrunner’s signing of rising solo metal innovator Dana Dentata for her debut record, pantychrist, this year has kept them in touch with the new age. With a visceral approach to hard-hitting lyrics and a unique vocal delivery, Dentata is one to watch for 2022.
Burn My Eyes. Supercharger. The Blackening. Unto The Locust. The most iconic eras of Machine Head (including the most controversial, thanks to Supercharger) hit shelves with the support of Roadrunner over their 17-year working relationship. Growing their signature brand of no-holds-barred metal into a mosh-inducing festival staple and practically a household name, Machine Head became a success story in the hands of Roadrunner.
The Cavalera dynasty rose to their full potential when Sepultura turned to Roadrunner as their first major label in 1989 for Beneath The Remains. The rest, as they say, is metal history, which led to the timeless Roots in 1996, then the arrival of Max Cavalera’s following outfit Soulfly in 1998. Bolstering the rise of a metal uprising at the most pivotal points in their careers, both Sepultura and Soulfly grew under the Roadrunner name and, in turn, nurtured the label’s reputation for metal excellence.
Snagging a signing with Trivium for their face-melting sophomore effort Ascendancy in 2005 began a long-standing relationship with. Roadrunner. Consequently, they dropped some of the greatest albums in modern metal. After nine records with Roadrunner, the Orlando heavies have climbed charts, earned a Grammy nomination and pushed metal in new directions rather than following the same old paths.
Jason Aalon Butler’s first project since letlive. was destined for greatness. Dropping their first EP Made An America via Roadrunner in 2018 gave FEVER 333 an instant platform. It paved the way for the success of their debut full-length, STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS, introducing the world to their hard-hitting rap-meets-punk approach akin to a present-day Rage Against The Machine. The future may not be ready for what FEVER 333 have in store, but we’re all waiting impatiently to hear it.