Say “Max Cavalera” and many a music fan will picture him painted as a tribal warrior in Sepultura’s “Roots Bloody Roots” music video, shot in the streets and catacombs of Brazil. The 1996 short features a striking mix of indigenous percussion, capoeira, and metal.
“I see metal as really connected to tribalism,” says Cavalera, reached on his wife-manager Gloria Cavalera’s cellphone. “Like, even the way we dress and the way we love the music and are part of a movement, it’s like we’re part of a certain tribe, and we’re proud of that.”
Soulfly, Cavalera’s post-Sepultura project, even has a song called “Tribe” on its 1998 debut. “It became a really big song that I play live that people really like.” However, Cavalera adds, “The last couple Soulfly albums are really less tribal than normal. They’re more a back-to-thrash kind of sound.”
The upcoming Soulfly release, Omen, is among the most ferocious offerings in Cavalera’s canon, eschewing the digressions into reggae, hip-hop, and industrial music that were present on 2005’s Dark Ages and 2008’s Conquer.
“It was a conscious decision to make it like that. It was like, ”˜I did it already a lot, so let’s not do it, let’s make a record without.’ ”
Cavalera is happy with comparisons to Sepultura classics like Beneath the Remains and Arise.
“I really like that era and that style of music. It’s got a lot of adrenaline, a lot of energy, and part of that to me was missing in the metal scene, so I started to get that thrash sound back,” he says. “I think the older I get, the more psycho I get. I dunno—it’s just the way I am. There must be something wrong with me, something wrong with my head. I’m growing up backwards.”
Probably the bloodiest track on the album is “Jeffrey Dahmer”, an anthemic recounting of the career of the infamous cannibal.
“One of the reasons I wrote the song was my brother [drummer Iggor] told me he got the receipt from somebody in Milwaukee for the freezer where Jeffrey Dahmer kept all his heads and body parts,” Cavalera explains. “And that was something like, ”˜Wow, you have that?’ I wanted to write a song about a serial killer for a long time, and I remembered the story about Iggor with this receipt and I decided to do Jeffrey Dahmer.”
After the current Soulfly tour, the Cavalera brothers and Soulfly guitarist Marc Rizzo will be uniting in the studio to record a second Cavalera Conspiracy album. Iggor left Sepultura in 2006.
“When he told me he was out of the band, I think it made him even closer to me, a little bit,” Max says. “I was like, ”˜So what are you doing?’ and he’s like, ”˜Not much at the moment.’ So I offered to him, ”˜Let’s make a band together.’ We both love to play—we did that as kids and we did that our whole life, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t play together now.”
Soulfly plays Venue on Tuesday (March 30).