I wrote a review of this album sometime back, but I don’t think I really explained my stance all that well. Simply put, ‘Under a Pale Grey Sky’ is the most intense, brutal album I’ve ever heard. Screw Cryptopsy and Suffocation and Nile and Origin and Meshuggah and Dillinger Escape Plan and Mastodon- Sepultura lays waste to them all on this album. People love to talk about the added energy and intensity that come with live albums, and, frankly, they tend to be full of it a fair amount of the time. Not so here. Max is more animal than man on the vox, the guitars are explosive and dominate the mix, and Igor is pretty out of control on the drums. They’re loose, but not too loose, maintaining an unbelievable stomping groove on the later material, and careening, flailing but not quite out of control blur to the thrash numbers. They find the perfect balance- some bands think all you have to do is play as fast as possible, or make your album as bassy as possible, or have the thickest guitar tone, or the most insane vocalist and that’ll make you the most extreme band in the world. But, there comes a point where emphasizing one of those traits means ya gotta cut back on some of the others, but you have to have ‘em all to be truly intense, truly moving, and you need to still keep the energy and passion, and not become to calculating and artificial. Sepultura finds the perfect balance and plays with incredible intensity, making an album so explosive that it’s pretty tough to imagine anything surpassing it substantially.
In lots of ways, this isn’t an ideal live album from them, as it massively de-emphasizes their thrash material, which I prefer to the Chaos A.D. and Roots stuff, but they won me over by sheer force of will. No, sheer brutality isn’t the sole purpose of metal, or even the main one, but it’s certainly not without it’s value, and if that’s what you’re looking for, look no further.