It is hard to think of a more adored figure in the metal world than Max Cavalera. Not only has he developed his career in front of a generation of fans who continue to listen and support him, but he is perhaps the only figure (along with his brother Igor) to have created their own sound, which many refer to as the “Sepultura sound”, that continues to be successful today. Heavy tribal drums, inspired by indigenous styled percussion, accompanied by equally heavy, melodic guitar riffs are the core of why the original lineup of Sepultura was so popular. As discussed in a previous write-up of ours (read here), Sepultura became one of the most popular acts within the metal genre in 90s while maintaining their cultural roots and speaking to political topics, some of which are often forced out of the metal scene in an effort to keep metal music “non-political”… (cue eye-roll)
Nonetheless, they skyrocketed to fame, no matter what Max was screaming/singing about. While it may be tiring to refer to Sepultura every time Max or Igor are mentioned, it is hard to forget the legacy they have left imprinted on the metal genre. Today, Sepultura is no longer Max or Igor, but instead the brothers have gone on to form different projects; Cavalera Conspiracy includes both brothers, which leaves fans of original Sepultura satisfied. Max also has Soulfly, which includes Marc Rizzo (lead guitar), Zyon Cavalera (drums), and Mike Leon (bass). Soulfly has released eleven albums during a 21 year trajectory. The band’s lineup has changed throughout the years, however, the two consistent members for much of Soulfly’s timeline has been Max Cavalera and Marc Rizzo.
Marc Rizzo has long been credited as being largely responsible for keeping the heavy melodic riffs in Soulfly, while also adding new textures to the sound of the band. Rizzo, who was originally from the nu-metal band Ill Nino out of New Jersey, has become an eclectic guitarist in his own right and has complimented Soulfly’s sound throughout its lifetime. It is admirable to see a local musician who has his roots in nu-metal, now be credited with keeping one of the most loved sounds within metal alive.
Soulfly’s latest, Ritual, is a throwback to old school Sepultura sounds, incorporating indigenous chants, heavy drums, and political lyrics that come at an important time in the US. The album also includes special guests Randy Blythe of Lamb of God and Ross Dolan of Immolation. In support of the album, the band embarked on a US tour which headlined New York City’s Gramercy Theatre on February 11th. Chaoseum, a power metal crossover band from Switzerland opened the show, and were followed by thrash metal band Incite, which is fronted by Max Cavalera’s stepson, Richie Cavalera. The distinct genres gave various different people in the crowd music that was suited to their taste.
While Soulfly headlined the show, many fans in the audience were in fact primarily there for Kataklysm, the death metal band from Montreal, Canada. Never having heard them before stepping into Gramercy that night, it is safe to say that I am now a fan. Lead singer Maurizio Iacono captured the attention and love of fans not just on stage, but off as well. While many artists grow tired of meeting fans when not performing on stage, Maurizio happily took a photo with everyone who requested one of him once the entire show was over. Although very sweet in person, his voice on stage is anything but. His voice accompanied by the rest of the members Jean-Francois Dagenais, Stephane Barbe, and Oli Beaudoin, had the crowd’s energy ongoing throughout their entire set. Knowing that they appreciate their fans and show respect to them also helps appreciate the band that much more.
It wasn’t surprising to see the entire crowd pumped with energy once Max stepped out on stage. Not only is there love for his music, but also love for what he stands for. Through interviews, meeting him in person, and on stage, you can see the same person every time – there is no bullshit with him. The respect transcends racial/ethnic lines too, as his defense and advocation for indigenous communities through his music has acquired them many indigenous and Latino fans. Ritual has been quickly embraced for its inclusion of tribal indigenous rhythms, similar to “original Sepultura.” The cover of the album features an indigenous man with an arrow, an image that feels needed in these very hateful times. Ritual is now on sale and can be purchased here. A full list of Soulfly tour dates can be seen here.