Soulfly: To The Max.

8 July 2002 | 12:00 am | Chris Ryder
Originally Appeared In

Come Fly With Three.

More Soulfly More Soulfly

3 is in stores now.

It's been a good five years since Sepultura frontman Max Cavalera said farewell to his band mates of over a decade, and went on to form Soulfly. The name is taken from a lyric that Cavalera penned for Deftones track Headup, and is something of a dedication to his stepson who died in mysterious circumstances.

And now, Max is back with the third Soulfly album. Simply titled 3, the record sees a return to the style of the band's first offering, surpassing on many levels the ‘all star' release that came prior. Like Soulfly, 3 is a rhythmic and fluid sounding album.

"It's similar to what we did with Soulfly but going even further with the world music, percussion, and rock sounds," Cavalera says. "I'm pretty pleased with it, but not completely satisfied yet. Let's say it's getting there."

While Cavalera still exists primarily in the metal world, writing songs centred around political or world events is more a punk thing.

“You write about something like a political event for example, and years from now it’s going to become dated,” Max agrees. “But I think most of the songs I play are more life experiences. I listen to the lyrics from 10 years ago, like Inner-self and the new lyrics for Enter Faith, and I think they're very much the same, they don't feel out-dated, they feel like they belong to each other."

And when a musician takes on a role as a spokesman (be that by choice or default) they find themselves in a situation where their fans will listen to them far more intently that government leaders and politicians. As an influential musician, does Max have to consider what he impresses on people? Young people especially are far more inclined to listen to what respected musicians have to say rather than heads of government.

"I try to guide the fans through my music and lyrics, as much as I got guidance from older people," says the singer. "I keep in mind not to influence people in any kind of negative way that will have them getting messed up... like the things that happened in Germany. You know, the school shooting that happened recently and was then blamed on the music. I try to make my lyrics as positive as I can."

Parallels have been drawn between 3 and Sepultura's Chaos AD album from almost ten years earlier. While Max has already acknowledged the similarities between Soulfly and 3, he was quick to discount any theories that Chaos AD and his latest offering shared any common bond. Even when it was pointed out that much of the advertising surrounding the album was tagged with the slogan 'Let the chaos begin'.

"I think that's just got to do with a bit of feedback from a couple of songs like, Last Of The Mohicans and Call To Arms that are a little more faster paced than the others," Max explains. "But overall I think it's much wider than that, I think comparing this album to Chaos AD is really closed-minded, because there's so much more of this record that I've never done before."

A track like the epic Tree Of Pain fits the bill in this regard. The song is rich, earthy, organic, and also has something of a pagan aura about it. This piece alone, complete with its female vocals, should validate Max's opinion about the new album featuring so much that he hasn't done previously.

"Tree Of Pain was made in a unorthodox kind of way. The song grew to a little over eight minutes long, and I didn't plan for that to happen. I joke with people and say that song is the Bohemian Rhapsody without the opera," he concludes with a laugh.

“I personally think that Soulfly's critics sometimes confuse the pure motivations of the band, and are of the opinion that if Max were to do 'this' or 'that', that record sales would increase. I think they confuse you with someone who definitely does things from the heart and for pure motivations.”

"I think that if you believe that what's in your heart is the right thing, then you fight with people and tell them no, and it's the way you want to do it," he says. "I don't really have that much trouble, the people that I work with at my label, really understand me as an artist. I don't have the burden of having to sell millions of records, and I don't have the urge. I only have the urge to make a really good album."

"Belief has always been a strong word with Soulfly," he continues. "I always said from the beginning that if I don't believe in it and the band doesn't believe in it, then no one else will. We had to believe in the music all the way and take it further."

And that certainly comes across. Cavalera does what Cavalera believes in, as opposed to something he's expected to do or deliver.