Their hardcore roots have shriveled with time, but six albums in, a creeping darkness remains. Thing is, all those steadfast punk promises of doom and gloom must either lead up to an apocalyptic something or change form, and, with no small influence from new backers Epic, the long-overlooked journeymen have opted for the latter. Theirs is now a fast-paced and straightforward but somewhat castrated blend of pop, emo, goth and arena rock: generic bombast that evokes mild unease and not much more.
The bottom line: **1/2
Alkaline Trio With American Steel, The Fashion. July 25, 7 p.m., $14.50-$17. House of Blues, 632-7600.