SOULFLY began almost instantaneously after his departure from the band he founded. The eponymously titled debut »Soulfly« sold over 500,000 copies in the United States alone, further expanding upon the tribal foundation of ‘Roots’ with percussive instrumentation, forays into esoteric sounds and multiple guest performers. Across the seven albums and never-ending tours that followed, Max worked with a who’s-who of the heavy music scene as band mates, guest musicians and touring members, including guys from SLIPKNOT, SLAYER, MEGADETH, DEFTONES, RADIOHEAD, STONE SOUR, CYPRESS HILL, MACHINE HEAD, DEVILDRIVER, FEAR FACTORY, MORBID ANGEL, THROWDOWN, S.O.D., SKINDRED, BORKNAGAR, WILL HAVEN and CATTLE DECAPITATION, among others.
Max Cavalera is the walking embodiment of creative energy, of all of the diverse layers of urgency that are possible from that select few whose artistic output defines genres. Mystic shaman, protest singer, revolutionary hero, everyday metalhead, furious consumer of heavy music of all shades, husband, father, leader, songwriter… Cavalera reigns as the adoptive tribal chief of a generation of fans, stretching from the roughest slums of South America to the coldest confines of Russia. Anywhere that people are disenfranchised, the songs of SOULFLY serve as their anthems.
“All of the things that make SOULFLY killer are combined in Savages,” Max declares.
Savages melds the most brutal, the heaviest and overall the most vibrant components that made up each record in SOULFLY’s diverse catalog. By Max’s own account, Savages is possessed of the tribal groove of the first two SOULFLY albums, particularly in songs like ‘Bloodshed’, ‘Ayatollah of Rock ‘N’ Rolla’ and ‘Master of Savagery’. But there’s also the thrash metal that was found on DARK AGES and OMEN; whereas the CAVALERA CONSPIRACY records contain short, punky bursts, the new SOULFLY record gets into the epic length territory of early METALLICA. The death metal vibe of SOULFLY’s Enslaved emerges in songs like ‘Fallen’ and ‘Cannibal Holocaust’.
“I really like the name Savages. I like single words that sound powerful, like ‘Primitive’, ‘Roots’, ‘Arise’,” Max explains. “It’s about the human condition right now. We have the Internet and we’re working on missions to Mars, but we are still decapitating each other and blowing up marathons. We’re still savages. Even with technology and how far we’ve come in the world, our spirit is still that of a savage.”
In addition to Max’s own self-production, a number of important producers have lent their skills to SOULFLY, including »Roots« producer Ross Robinson (KORN, AT THE DRIVE-IN), Toby Wright (Ozzy Osbourne, SLAYER), Andy Sneap (MEGADETH, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE), ex-SOULFLY guitarist Logan Mader (FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, GORJIA) and Zeuss (HATEBREED, SUICIDE SILENCE) and Terry Date (PANTERA, DEFTONES).
Generally on a SOULFLY album, the drummers would learn the songs in the studio, based on demo recordings from Max. This time, Max had the luxury of working out the songs at home with Zyon. “We jammed every single day for a month. He knew 90% of the material already when we got into the studio. It reminded me of recording the old Sepultura stuff, like Arise and Chaos A.D., Igor knew exactly what he was going to do before we went into the studio. This was very similar.”
Max points to BLACK SABBATH’s ‘Symptom of the Universe’ as one of the penultimate riffs of all time, citing SABBATH’s Tony Iommi and METALLICA frontman James Hetfield as among the riff-masters he most admires. “I think of riff making as an art-form. I take it really seriously. I think it deserves more attention. It has such value.”
Max acknowledges the inherent risk in putting a 21 year-old behind the kit for such an important record, but it was a risk he absolutely wanted to take. “To have my son drumming on the album, that's killer. I like risks. I like to start shit up and see what happens. Even if I fail, at least I knew I tried. Rather than knowing I didn't try at all. To me, that's the bigger failure. It took a little bit of courage to put my son on it. I came to the studio and told Terry there was a young drummer who doesn’t play to a click. Terry knew what to do and Zyon did great. The drums sound amazing.”
Like all things Max Cavalera, does SOULFLY’s Savages is a family affair. Not only does it mark Zyon’s recorded debut with the band, but one of Max’s other kids throws down some vocals in the opening track, ‘Bloodshed’. “My son Igor has a killer punk rock voice that reminds me of the old CORROSION OF CONFORMITY days,” Max says. “The chorus has this old punk style riff, almost like a MISFITS type riff. His voice is killer.”
Like every SOULFLY album, Savages contains an impressive guest list comprised of veterans and up-and-comers. CLUTCH’s Neil Fallon turns up on ‘Ayatollah of Rock ‘N’ Rolla’, the title of which was inspired by Mel Gibson’s classic Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior movie. Jamie Hanks from I DECLARE WAR brought his high and low deathcore vocals to ‘Fallen’, a death metal oriented song Max says is in the vein of CANNIBAL CORPSE.
Even as Max continues to consume new music from band like NINE INCH NAILS, MAN MUST DIE, TRIGGER THE BLOODSHED and I DECLARE WAR, even as he revisits seminal material from METALLICA, SLAYER, C.O.C. and the like, and indulges his penchant for world music, and gets his hands in his other projects and collaborations, it all adds up to a singular, distinct, straightforward and riff-heavy machine known as SOULFLY.