By Bob Nalbandian

Live Under a Pale Grey Sky
3.0 EYES

Chock-full-o-guts double CD of Max's last show with Sepultura, December of 1996, before he spun off into nu-metal hell with the increasingly annoying Soulfly, while his former bandmates limped on with a new singer to mixed results and decimated sales. There are no hints of family squabbles here, unless one counts the rather stale and standard-issue 'this one's for the tribe' stage banter - the performances are as leaden-heavy and bottom-end thick as you'd expect from Roots-era Sep. With 28 tracks, there's plenty of room to indulge in golden oldies like "Troops of Doom" and "Necromancer," though fans of the band's thrashier past will be disappointed in the chopped-up medleys of "Beneath the Remains/Mass Hypnosis" and "Arise/Dead Embryonic Cells." What the hell, though, this is a decent "greatest hits" and a bittersweet historical document of the one band that wasn't supposed to implode under the pressures of money and management. Another rock and roll myth kicks the bucket, although even if you hate everything these four guys did past this night, you still gotta admit they had one helluva run. Keith Bergman

Reroute to Remain
Nuclear Blast
2.5 EYES

The battle lines are drawn on this one, as the punters decide whether or not to let "their" Gothenburg band veer off into weirder, more textured, and somewhat poppier territory. Not that there's a lack of combustible thrash on Reroute To Remain; but goopy multitracked choruses ("System") and out-and-out ballads ("Dawn of a New Day," the perplexing "Metaphor" - is that a Dave Matthews fiddle sample in there?) find the band fleshing out the melodic streak that started to make itself known on 2000's Clayman. It's asinine to call it a "sellout," given that these choruses are so relentlessly hooky and arena-rock-like as to be violently unfashionable in the current musical climate (had there been any attempts at nu-metal throwdowns, I might have joined the poseur chorus, but, um, no). The best examples of this year's In Flames model would be "Cloud Connected," "Black and White" and "Egonomic" (thrashy tempo, melodic chorus) , while "Trigger" could have come off Clayman and maintains a link with their groundbreaking past. The ballads are stiffs, though - "Dawn of a New Day" turns vocalist Anders Friden into some kind of tone-deaf robot in the chorus, while "Metaphor" is just maudlin and dorky. The ballads complete the unconventional mood here; no one's really doing what In Flames is attempting here (although Gardenian's Sindustries arguably tread this ground with better overall results) - a kind of Gothenburg arena-rock, informed by 80's fist-bangers, layered with keyboards galore and unafraid to trowel on more and more production, especially on the vocals. The results are more academically interesting than viscerally rockin' (though "Egonomic" invites some headbanging), but repeated listens will have the choruses, at least, imbedded in your brain-pan, never to come out again. That last half-an-eye is given grudgingly, but I'll salute the band for either a) sticking to their own bizarre muse, or b) having formulated the world's worst plan to sell out. There's a lot of great stuff on Reroute to Remain, despite the cornball ballads and a general sense of overproduction, and if you're one of the metalheads who's already bought it and hates it, I recommend giving it a few more listens. Say what you will about these guys, In Flames has done anything but take the path of least resistance here. Keith Bergman

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