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Interviews : ‘Pure Fucking Magic’ – Interview with Max Cavalera (Soulfly)

By on November 4, 2018

Max Cavalera – Soulfly

Soulfly released Ritual recently, marking a return to the tribal elements seen in the bands early work alongside some heavy, uncompromising tracks. I caught up with singer/guitarist Max Cavalera to chat about the album and his thoughts on the process, the bad and his thoughts on music past and present.

Ritual marks a development in the process of album making for Soulfly. Cavalera explained that “Working with Josh [Wilbur, recording/mixing on Ritual] my own state of mind was a bit different coming into this record. I wanted to try to embrace some of the early tribal elements and bring them back into Soulfly. At the same time, I wanted to continue my search of heaviness with extreme metal sounds… We wrote a lot in the studio, stuff like “Feedback!” was born in the studio properly, ‘Evil Empowered’, ‘Blood on the Street’ even ‘Ritual’, they came to life in the studio, which was really good. This is the kind of record where it needs to be fresh, kind of spur-of-the-moment songs and they do feel like that even though a lot of them had a lot of work [behind the scenes].”

Part of this development centres around the inclusion of tribal elements on the record, especially with the Navajo tribal chants that open the album. “Man, it’s really open and it’s crazy,” says Cavalera. “I already had recorded most of the songs on the album and then I went to the Navajo tribal land and recorded them real Burzum-style with a cheap $10 microphone and a 4 track machine and I just stood there in the middle of them, let them do all the chants and recorded everything live. Then I gave it to Josh and [he] added them to the songs, it’s really kind of group work, you know? When he put them on the beginning of ‘Ritual’ I almost lost my mind because the chant is almost in tune with the fucking guitar! Like, how the fuck is that even possible? It’s like, I don’t even understand and I don’t want to understand! It’s magic man, it’s pure fucking magic shit… I just know it works and I’m extremely happy.”

Further points of interest are the relationship between Cavalera and his son Zyon [drums] on the record. Cavalera is clearly proud to be playing with his son, and proud of his efforts on Ritual: ” Man, it’s been great. You know, Zyon’s been groomed, since he was little, to be in Soulfly… I mean, his heartbeat started Chaos A.D. so like, ‘you’re already hired’, you’re already on the path of music, you don’t even know, you’re not even born yet but you’re already there. Then he sat behind all the Soulfly drummers, that was his school and he learned drums and became great. [He] is the best drummer I’ve played with in my whole career. He’s amazing, especially on this record, I’m extremely proud of him on Ritual, it’s the best drumming he’s ever done.” His pride and excitement extend Ritual itself: “I like some of the new things that the album has to offer like ‘Feedback!’, a kind of Motorhead-like song.

People haven’t heard that from me before, it’s almost like I’m out of my comfort zone… I also love ‘Blood on the Street’ because it’s a true story that could become a movie if they wanted to do it. A Native, Navajo girl got murdered by the police and nothing happened, it’s the biggest injustice… There’s a lot of moments that I really like, ‘The Summoning’ is one of them with the blast beat beginning, kind of like ‘Slave New World’, kind of like Chaos A.D.-vibe and then the ending is kind of like an old Pantera ending with like the chugging. ‘Under Rapture’ of course – the beginning is all like an old Death song turning into this blasphemous death metal attack with Ross [Dolan] from Immolation screaming his crazy-awesome death metal vocals, it’s fucking amazing. “Dead Behind the Eyes’ with Randy [Blythe, vocalist Lamb of God] was great, ‘Ritual’ doing scat vocals on the chorus was great. A lot of cool moments man, I think this album hits the mark.”


The new album Ritual, out now via Nuclear Blast Records. Click here to secure a copy on multiple formats.

About

Ben is a metalhead originally from Sydney, who has now moved to Hobart to pursue a PhD in Australian extreme metal. When not studying, writing about or playing metal, he can be found playing video games, browsing Reddit, knitting, fending off his cat or helping out at his local church.