Under a Pale Grey Sky


It’s just about impossible to overestimate Sepultura’s importance to 1990s metal. From the extreme trash of the classic albums Beneath The Remains and Arise, and on to the political, hardcore-infused brutal metal of Chaos A.D. and the Brazilian percussion and global world-imagery that defined Roots, Sepultura constantly revolutionized both the band and the entire concept of heavy metal in the process. And it is these four albums that this double live album celebrates and breathes new life into. Recorded in London, UK, December 1996, Under a Pale Grey Sky is the final show on the Roots tour and, as it turned out, the last show featuring Sepultura’s legendary line-up with Max Cavalera.

This is the sound of Sepultura at the absolute high point of their career, artistically as well as commercially. Having just released a string of conception-shattering, defining albums, Sepultura still sound hungry and eager to prove their case. All internal quarrels aside, the band stands united on stage, intent on giving the audience their money’s worth, delivering a performance as energy-packed, as insanely intense, as the songs demand. Even the lengthy percussive break in “Endangered Species” — the generally frowned-upon term “drum solo” doesn’t seem cover it — delivers the goods, and is hugely listenable, filled with punch and fiery attack. Every song, from the tribal chants to the gruesome early-day death-to-trash metal, is performed with passion and a righteous purpose. It all makes sense, goes together to form a statement.

Following this last show, vocalist Max Cavalera split with the band in late 1996 to form Soulfly. And although both him and the remaining Sepultura have since churned out fine releases, none of them have come close to the formidable albums Sepultura released between 1989 and 1996. This live set is a testament to the power and sheer brilliance that was Sepultura. A timely reminder of, and a worthy appendix to, a beautiful, unfinished story.

Roadrunner Records:

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