Sepultura - _Under a Pale Grey Sky_
(Roadrunner, 2002)
by: Matthias Noll (9 out of 10)
Oh yeah, the glory days of the early and mid-'90s! I vividly remember an amazing amount of people wearing Sepultura shirts, no matter to which show or metal-related event one went. Looking at the path the band had taken since recording "Necromancer" and the success they had finally and rightfully earned, one had the impression that there might not be limits for the Brazilian quartet. Well, everybody knows what happened then. Hopefully some people have at least learned that it's not really clever to mix family and business. My initial hopes that the Max-less Sepultura and also Soulfly would turn out to be worthy successors died when exposed to utter crap like _Against_, _Nation_ and the second and third Soulfly albums. While Soulfly might have been able to reach a medium and rather stable level of success by pleasing some nu-metal youths, what happened to Sepultura's popularity must be a disaster that makes Celtic Frost's _Cold Lake_ adventure appear like a flat tire in comparison to an earthquake. _Under a Pale Red Sky_ is the last show of Sepultura's _Roots_ tour and also the last show with Max, recorded in December 1996 at London's Brixton Academy. This double CD contains a whopping 28 tracks, presumably the whole show. Eleven songs are from _Roots_. Far too many to call the setlist balanced and enough to put some of those who dislike _Roots_ off. While I believe that at least five of the _Roots_ songs should have never made it into the live set, some others -- like for example "Spit" and "Endangered Species" -- work much better than I expected. If anything, the huge presence of _Roots_ material shows the immense confidence the band had in the quality of their then-latest record. Still, replacing "Breed Apart" and "Born Stubborn" with "From the Past Comes the Storms" and "Escape to the Void" would have made me salivate. Some of the older, 'classic' Sepultura material appears in a shortened version or in the form of a two-songs-in-one medley, like "Arise / Dead Embryonic Cells". There aren't many surprises here for those who are familiar with Sepultura setlists. "Necromancer" certainly is a huge one, as is the Cro-Mags cover "We Gotta Know". But when considering that this a document of what was reality then and the fact that a pre-planned live album would surely have had a slightly more balanced track selection, such complaints are not valid. The familiar encores -- the Titas cover "Policia" and Motorhead's "Orgasmatron" -- are also here, as well as the hyper-fast "Troops of Doom" and an ultra-wicked version of "Inner Self". The sound quality leaves nothing to be desired: it's huge, heavy and well balanced, and I noted a couple of fuck-ups in the guitar department (check "Troops of Doom" around 30 seconds into the song) which seem to confirm that the performance itself hasn't been doctored. Overall this is an excellent album and when Max commands the audience to "Like in the old fucking times, destroy this fucking place!" during "Inner Self", the complete time-tunnel experience including adrenaline rush and gooseflesh is upon me. The incredible live tracks from the Barcelona gig of the _Arise_ tour (on the _Under Siege, Live in Barcelona_ video and the _Blood Rooted_ double CD version of _Roots_) might be the better choice for those who gave up on Sepultura after _Arise_ or _Chaos AD_. All others can be extremely happy that we have two such excellent live documents from one of the most amazing metal bands of the '90s. This is so good, I don't even mind it being on Roadrunner.

(article published 16/3/2003)

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