To combat the sales backlash that began when Derrick Green
took singer/guitarist Max Cavalera's spot in the group, Roadrunner Records released the live document Under a Pale Grey Sky
. Recorded in the very short period between the death of his stepson and his exit from the group, Cavalera's performance is nothing short of breathtaking. His venomous roar has rarely sounded this raw and heartfelt, he screams with a fury that comes deep from within, and he delivers a performance that pulls the listener uncomfortably close. Guitarist Andreas Kisser is also in fine form, offering an eerie, melodic counterpoint to Cavalera's pounding riffs. One only needs to look to "Endangered Species" to see why the two guitarists were a masterful pairing, with Kisser pasting blistering and shrill leads over Cavalera's abrasive chug in a tense battle of aggression. The track selection may leave a little to be desired; while they take most of the songs from Chaos A.D
. and Roots
, they barely cover their catalog before that point. What is here is awesome, but it would have been nice to hear "Inquisition Symphony" or "Under Seige" as performed by the group (arguably) at its peak. Toward the end of the performance, the band is strikingly lucid, launching into its two most distinct and awe-inspiring tracks with the last of its energies. First, the acoustic jam "Kaiowas" is a brilliant display of technical skill that showcases the beauty and joy the band finds in its native Brazilian music. Then comes the true monster, "Ratamahatta," a percussion-based masterpiece that plows over the audience with its tribal throb and cathartic build. A massive cover of Motörhead
's "Orgasmatron" puts an end to the proceedings and satisfies the encore desires of the audience, but it is a brief coda to an otherwise brutal show. The band was on top of its game professionally and deeply wounded emotionally, making its music as sharp and poignant as it has ever been. Where most live metal albums tend to come off thin and sloppy, Under a Pale Grey Sky
does the opposite. Through crystal-clear production, an airtight performance, and a top-notch selection of songs, the album paints a picture of a larger-than-life band throwing its massive bulk around for two hours of sheer hatred. And really, what else would any self-respecting metal fan want out of a live album?