Recently, MetalSucks.net ran an NCAA-style bracket to determine the best beard in metal, and it was an awesome display of manly face-fur indeed. But there were almost no Roadrunner artists represented at all - from our current roster, only Killswitch Engage's Justin Foley made it, and as far as RR alumni, there were only two: Zakk Wylde, and Sean Z. of Daath/Chimaira (who ultimately won).
So we've decided to present our own list of Roadrunner's Best Beards. And before we begin, let's be clear: this isn't about Roadrunner's Biggest Beards. There are a few impressive candidates here, but style counts, too, as you'll see. And it's not a contest, either, which is why the list is in alphabetical order by band name.
Here we go!
Dave Baxter, Avalanche City: This friendly, soft-spoken New Zealander has a beard that matches his personality. It's not too wild, it goes well with an acoustic guitar and comfortable clothes...frankly, he looks a little bit like a music teacher. Which, when you consider that he played all the instruments on his Love Love Love EP, he probably could be!
John Petrucci/Jordan Rudess, Dream Theater: Here we have two very different approaches to beard growth, within the same band. Every time we see Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci, his beard is impeccably styled. Not too long, not too short, with a crisp edge. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess, on the other hand, has grown a goatee that's like a massive waterfall of hair descending from his chin, the perfect counter to his smoothly shaved head.
Jesse Leach/Justin Foley, Killswitch Engage: You know why there are so many bands from Massachusetts? Because it gets cold there, and people retreat indoors and pick up instruments. For similar reasons, facial hair is serious business in New England. Killswitch Engage's frontman and drummer sport particularly impressive beards; Foley's could practically serve as a bib or dickey.
Fieldy, Korn: This iconic bassist is pretty much instantly recognizable, from the way he holds his instrument nearly vertically onstage to his thick, flying dreads, and his beard is the perfect capper to that visual package. Plus, as a new dad, it's sure to provide hours of fun for his son Noa (born August 13) to tug and hang onto.
Gary Rossington/Johnny Van Zant, Lynyrd Skynyrd: As in the case of Dream Theater above, these two guys provide a study in contrasts. Skynyrd lead singer Johnny Van Zant's beard is a scruffy, casual, good ol' boy growth, while guitarist Gary Rossington's is a carefully sculpted adornment well suited to a Southern gentleman.
Robb Flynn, Machine Head: Robb Flynn's beard has been through multiple permutations over the years. It's been just a goatee (of varying lengths), it's been twisted into three braids, but now it's long and wild, a crucial component of his overall ultimate-metal-dude-ness.
Marco Hietala, Nightwish: The braided look maintains its popularity with Finnish bass monster Marco Hietala. The two long blond ropes dangling from his chin give him a Viking-ish appearance that only bolsters the group's fantasy-oriented songwriting and image.
Mick Thomson/Clown, Slipknot: While Slipknot percussionist/mastermind M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan sports a beard that gives him a gentle, almost fatherly appearance befitting such a multifaceted artist, the band's man-mountain guitarist, Mick Thomson, goes in exactly the opposite direction. Unlike some other members of the band, he's rarely seen without his metallic-looking face-plate, but you can see his gigantic, bushy black beard protruding from beneath it and covering his neck, almost all the way to his chest, implying that he'd be just as intimidating unmasked as he is onstage.
Marc Rizzo/Tony Campos, Soulfly: This band's guitar-bass team also take two very different approaches to facial grooming. While guitarist Marc Rizzo's beard is a thin, carefully trimmed line tracing the angle of his jaw until it blossoms into a neat goatee, a style common among young Latino men on the East Coast and probably many other places, bassist Tony Campos's mustache and beard explode off his face and down his chest, rendering his mouth virtually invisible(!).