“WE WEREn’T sCARED OF GRUnGE”

WITH THEIR TRIBAL METAL, BRAZIL’S SEPUL­TURA BE­CAME ROAD­RUN­NER’S BIG SUC­CESS

Metal Hammer (UK) - - The 90s Issue: 1993 -

that the land­scape was chang­ing and they had to move be­yond the bound­aries of ex­treme metal. Un­der or­ders from Cees Wes­sels to “aban­don that world”, Monte be­gan search­ing out dif­fer­ent sounds – start­ing on his doorstep in New York.

“The la­bel started to se­ri­ously branch be­yond thrash with Type O Neg­a­tive, Bio­haz­ard and Life Of Agony,” he says. “All bands that had their roots in New York hard­core, be­fore mov­ing far be­yond it.”

All three bands were com­ing at things from dif­fer­ent places. Brook­lyn’s Bio­haz­ard were rap-metal hard­men whose vi­o­lent street-level world­view of life was laid out on their Road­run­ner de­but, 1992’s Ur­ban Dis­ci­pline.

Life Of Agony were the young pups of the hard­core scene, with singer Keith Ca­puto us­ing the band as cathar­tic re­lease for his tu­mul­tuous fam­ily back­ground and men­tal state. Type O Neg­a­tive were some­thing else en­tirely, a unique hy­brid of hard­core, metal and goth that was the brain­child of tow­er­ing front­man Peter Steele, for­mer singer with con­tro­ver­sial race-bait­ing 80s metal out­fit Car­ni­vore. What bound the bands to­gether was Road­run­ner, and the sense of com­mu­nity that came with it.

“Monte would come and see us, al­though he didn’t sign us im­me­di­ately be­cause he wasn’t sure about our vo­cals,” says Life Of Agony bassist Alan Robert. “He took a lot of con­vinc­ing. But once we were on the la­bel, it was great. We knew ev­ery­one there per­son­ally and hung out. It was the eas­i­est, coolest place to work, and when it all took off it was re­ally ex­cit­ing to see other bands get­ting suc­cess.”

1992 saw those suc­cess sto­ries sim­mer­ing. But it wasn’t un­til the fol­low­ing year that they reached boil­ing point.

The first half of 1993 was fairly quiet for Road­run­ner, but all that changed in Au­gust with the re­lease of Type O Neg­a­tive’s third al­bum, Bloody Kisses. The band’s first two records, 1991’s Slow, Deep And Hard and 1992’s faux-live The Ori­gin Of The Fe­ces, in­ter­spersed Sab­bath-es­que dirges with bursts of face-pum­melling hard­core.

But Bloody Kisses was where they turned ev­ery­thing up to an­other level, com­bin­ing heav­i­ness, melody and Peter Steele’s

fath­oms-deep croon. This was the true birth of goth-metal.

“They were do­ing so much that was dif­fer­ent with heav­i­ness and melody on Bloody Kisses that it just de­served to be heard by so many peo­ple,” says Alan Robert.

Re­mark­ably, it was. The al­bum’s two big sin­gles were the bril­liantly blas­phe­mous Chris­tian Woman and gothic tour de force Black No.1. In their orig­i­nal form, they were both lengthy epics, but sig­nif­i­cantly edited ver­sions that wisely fo­cused on the songs’ in­nate catch­i­ness were soon picked up by ra­dio. This was Road­run­ner’s first taste of suc­cess.

“Those songs gave us our first hit sin­gles,” says Monte Con­ner. “Once we got our hands on those Type O hits, we were de­ter­mined to break through that wall and put Road­run­ner on the map at rock ra­dio. Our ra­dio guy worked his ass off to get us in that po­si­tion.

It would take two years for Bloody Kisses to sell 500,000 copies in the US and be­come Road­run­ner’s first Gold record, but as the la­bel had nei­ther the bud­gets nor the in­fra­struc­ture of a ma­jor, that was still some achieve­ment. Plus, they had plenty more up their sleeve.

Where Type O Neg­a­tive were a sur­prise hit, the suc­cess of Sepul­tura’s fifth al­bum was less of a shock. The Brazil­ians had been grad­u­ally eas­ing them­selves away from gut­tural thrash metal since the start of the decade, but Chaos A.D. – re­leased in Oc­to­ber 1993 – was some­thing else. While it was still bru­tal, it added groove, am­bi­tion and, on the per­cus­sive Refuse/Re­sist and Kaiowas, the first flow­er­ings of the world mu­sic in­flu­ences that would come to full fruition two years later on Roots.

“This was the al­bum where the band tran­scended the death/thrash genre and sim­ply be­came a time­less metal band,” says Monte. “When I signed them in 1988, did I fore­see that growth in ’93? Of course not, no one could have.”

So con­fi­dent were Road­run­ner in the al­bum that they launched it with a huge party at Caer­philly Cas­tle in Wales. Jour­nal­ists and ra­dio pro­duc­ers were flown in from around the world to be wined and dined with Brazil­ian food and drink. The evening’s en­ter­tain­ment even in­cluded a dance troupe from the band’s home coun­try. “It cost a for­tune,” laughs Monty. “But Cees was not go­ing to let the la­bel’s great­est achieve­ment to date go by with­out mak­ing a huge deal of it.”

Their faith paid off. Chaos A.D. reached Num­ber 11 in the UK and be­came the first Road­run­ner al­bum to break into the US Top

40, peak­ing at Num­ber 32.

“It was the most im­por­tant pe­riod of our lives,” says An­dreas. “We were com­ing into

Pearl Jam fol­low ex­cep­tional Ten an­other bril­liant

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