by Michelle Harper
Soulfly on the cover of Maximum Ink in February 2001
Out of the screaming vocals, grinding guitars and angry, emotionally churning beat of Soulfly emerges Max Cavalera . “Most people think our type of music is negative because it sounds negative. We’re trying to show it can be positive”.
Max Cavalera , former member of Brazilian metal band Sepultura, is keeping it amazingly positive. In less than a decade, he has left a band he was with for almost 15 years, buried his stepson and friend Dana, and suffered the loss of musical brothers such as Lynn Straight of Snot and Tunday from the underground Arizona rap band Cutthroat Logic. Yet in the face of despair and tragedy, Soulfly has released an incredible follow-up to their self-titled debut CD called “Primitive”, a polished, hard core effort with a message of spirituality and optimism.
Soulfly’s second project emphasizes Cavalera’s style of multiculturalism, partially attributed to recording “Primitive” near his home at Phoenix, Arizona’s Salt Mine Studios (not to mention his mother is a priestess of the Candomble religiona mix of Catholicism and African religions). Combining metal riffs with traditional Brazilian music and tribal rhythms, Cavalera pours passion for his heritage into every track. “I used the barumbau (a Brazilian instrument consisting of one string and a coconut) on the track “Catch-A-Spirit” off the “Straight Up” compilation (a multi-artist tribute CD to former Snot member Lynn Straight). It was a great experience. Mike (former member of Snot and current guitarist of Soulfly) did a great job putting it together, and it was like a presence was still here. A spirit.”
The remembrance of lost friends and family plays a gigantic role in “Primitive”. Max asked Sean Lennon to lend vocals on the track “Son Song”, partially because they both lost their fathers at a young age, and Tunday’s sister Asha contributes her gospel style vocals to the track “Flyhigh”. “Soulfly’s music”, Max describes, “is like a combination of powerful aggression and the positive spiritual. The power of music is very healing, and it’s our way to express our feelings.” Making the CD helped Max let go of the pain of loss, especially in the tragic murder of his stepson in 1996. Of course, some agony still remains. On the back of “Primitive’s” CD insert is a passage from Gloria, Max’s wife and Dana’s mother. It states “Murderers, every day you spend free is only one day closer to judgement. The code of silence has been broken”. “That is not meant to be taken negatively”, Max states. “It may sound harsh when you read it, but it’s not. No mother should have to see her child buried”. Above the reading is an angel with green and red wings. A presence still remembered.
In addition to paying tribute to souls past, Max contributes in helping to heal the living. Igor, Max’s 5-year old son, suffers from Type 1 Diabetes. In an effort to help others afflicted with this disease, Max began a fund called the “Iggy Diabetes Fund” (the contribution address is found within the CD insert). “So far, hospitals have used the money to develop a blood machine that can take blood from children’s fingers to make it easier for them.”
Max Cavalera pours his heart into not only his music, but the positive message and spirituality of Soulfly as a whole. With artistic contributors such as Corey#8 from the ferocious neo-metal band Slipknot and Tom Arraya of the legendary metal force “Slayer”, “Primitive” offers a wide variety of hard-hitting, gut-churning sounds. Currently on tour with metal giants Pantera, Max says the best tour experience with Soulfly has been the life energy and communication with the fans. “There’s a point in the show where the power of the crowd can become almost sacred. It’s amazing.”
After almost 15 years with Sepultura, Max Cavalera has begun again with a new group (made up of guitarist Mike Doling, bassist Marcelo Dias , and drummer Joe Nunez) and a new producer (Toby Wright, who replaced Soulfly ‘s debut CD’s producer Ross Robinson). He continues to triumph in the face of tragedy and adversity, passing a message of the spirit with sounds of smashing anger and driving fury. Soulfly’s mission is captured in the track “The Prophet”. “Through generation to generation, the prophet carries on” Max describes. “There is someone there to carry the message, like where a door closes, a window opens. The Prophet is always there to carry on.” Max Cavalera, from generation to musical generation, indeed carries the message. The message that behind the pounding guitar riffs and screams of rage lies the heart of one man’s spirit, with the souls of loved ones at his side, always there to carry on.” Max Cavalera , from generation to musical generation, indeed carries the message. The message that behind the pounding guitar riffs and screams of rage lies the heart of one man’s spirit, with the souls of loved ones at his side.
Soulfly is a member of Real Steel Tour as the opening act for Pantera. Real Steel is in Green Bay at the Brown County arena on Feb. 18th, and in Madison at the Alliant Energy Center on Feb. 19th. Real Steel also features Morbid Angel, and Nothingface has been added to the bill!(9903) Page Views Soulfly Online:
CD: Primitive Record Label: Roadrunner Records
• Purchase Primitive on Amazon