What can we say about Max Cavelera that hasn’t already been said? Straight up, Max has helped form metal as we know it. Going back to the ‘80s, his first project Sepultura has been on the top shelf of any metalhead’s collection. With screams of anti-government idioms and double-bass intensive beats, Sepultura has pushed the limits of thought provoking heavy music.
Branching off into the mindset of Soulfy, Max has taken that brutality to a more complex and tribal level. The lyrical content of their first self-titled album was inspired by the murder of a dear friend and brings a new meaning to vengeful, angry music. The album has such an intense groove, is full of organic tribal beats and is just as passionate as any Aretha Franklin collection. That same energy carries over to Primitive, the metal veteran’s second release. Both of these together contain some of my freak-out, thrown-down, don’t-let-anyone-catch-me-thrashing-around-my-house favorite tracks. With powerful jams like “Jump the Fuck Up” blaring at high volume, how can you sit still? From there Max kept it brutal, but experimented with different styles and sounds. From reggae to funk, the four Soulfly albums have a taste of culture on each disk. Some of the more original and interesting pieces are the ongoing title tracks, “Soulfly I”, “II,” “III” and “IV” that are some of the most beautiful compositions you’ll hear, regardless of whether or not it’s on a metal album.
Prophecy, Max’s new Roadrunner Records release is by far the most experimental of the foursome. It starts out with the classic heavy groove of the first two albums, but then goes off in more directions that you can keep up with. The Latina intro of “Porrada” and the Marching Band beats of “Wings” show that Max had no intention of keeping with tradition. And interestingly enough, on other tracks, Max uses exact riffs from old Sepultura songs, sometimes to the point where it sounds like a Cavalera remix. Although I like all the twists and turns on Prophecy, I’d like to see Max release a mellow, experimental EP, and keep the nasty Soulfly groove metal to the albums. Overall it’s a great disk, but I find my self skipping around from track to track looking for random parts, instead of hitting play and throwing down hard for the next hour like the first two disks.
One thing is for sure, no matter what musicians Max has backing him on each Soulfly project, he delivers the goods when it comes to the live performances. I was lucky enough to catch the sold out show at 32 Bleu and holy shit was the crowd restless. There were pits starting 15 minutes before the band even hit the stage! Max went all out with the set list, playing well over an hour and mixing in old Sepultura tunes, I almost lost it when they started “Roots.” His players were younger and less experienced than other bands I’ve seen him touring with, but they kept up and delivered an energetic and vicious show. They even pulled off a dope cover of Helmet’s “In the Meantime,” which is also featured on the CD.
Max may be getting up in years, but he throws down like he’s a kid. The new tunes are good, the live shows are still intense, and I’m sure he’s got more up his sleeve. I can’t wait to hear what the epic track “Soulfly V” will sound like, and who knows, maybe I’ll get that tripped out, experimental Cavalera EP.