Interview: Max Cavalera of Soulfly

Two decades into their storied career, the legendary Soulfly continue to engender near cultish zeal with each subsequent album and tour. In that sense, the group’s eleventh full-length, Ritual (out October 19th on Nuclear Blast) lives up to the promise of its name with a metallic ceremony of the highest order. The iconic gold-certified quartet—Max Cavalera [vocals, guitar], Marc Rizzo [lead guitar], Zyon Cavalera [drums], and Mike Leon [bass]—cast their word in bludgeoning riffs, thunderous percussion, and menacing growls. The title proves apropos to say the least. We had a chat with the metal god himself, Max Cavalera, about the new album, a Ritual World Tour, having his son in the band and Killer Be Killed.

Congratulations on the new Soulfly album, Ritual, it must be exciting and a good feeling knowing it's almost time for everyone to hear it?

Yeah man, I'm very excited. We worked real hard on this record and I'm really proud with how it came out. I had this vision for the album which is like this whole tribal, death/thrash idea of mixing tribal elements with groove and having death and thrash metal in there as well. I didn't know how it was going to play out because it was just all in my head, but I think we got pretty close to that idea and I think the record to me has all of these elements that I love about heavy music. I'm pretty stoked man, we have 3 songs out now on Spotify, and people seem to really like them, especially Dead Behind The Eyes and Ritual, and then there's the rest of the album which we kind of leave for a surprise for people to hear when it's out in just a few more days. But I couldn't be happier and I really think it's going to be an album that Soulfly fans will really embrace, and I think it's an album that they have been wanting to hear from us for a very long time.

Yes I agree, and the tracks that we have heard so far are also probably some of the heaviest Soulfly tracks we've ever heard. Was it your intention to go into this album with a more brutal sound?

Yeah I mean, it's just kind of the stuff that I currently listen to, and it has an influence on what I want to write. I like to play the music that I enjoy hearing, so the influences are close to the stuff I listen to on a normal everyday basis, which is a lot of heavy stuff. But even with the groove stuff, like the song "Ritual" for example, it's amazing when you actually get it right, and something as powerful as a fast song is a different dynamic, you know it's like this killer groove bomb that comes in from out of nowhere. When the guitar kicks in and the tribal chant, it's a call to war man, it's calling everybody to war and when you hear that, you know it's on and it's going to be great playing that live.

Your son Zyon Cavalera played drums on this album, that must mean a lot to you?

It was very cool man, he's been groomed since he was little for this moment, sort of like how somebody trains their kids for something when they're little, throwing them in ice water and making them wrestle bears and shit like that. It's kind of like that for Zyon, he's been groomed since he was little with the whole metal world, took him on tour forever, to now where he's performing on this record. His drumming is fantastic, he's definitely becoming a great and amazing drummer, and people also like the story of father and son playing together, it's kind of cool, you don't see that every day in other bands. That right there also adds to the atmosphere of the whole situation.

Yeah it's so cool to see the generational influence in your music come to fruition. You've got so many projects on the go, you're always busy, will you dedicating the next year or so to Soulfly?

Yeah, I mean, we'll have a couple of breaks next year in between tours and I'd like to do a little bit with Killer Be Killed. We've already started working on that actually, we've got a demo with 10 songs, I'd love to get that finished and probably look at releasing that album next year also, but if we don't get the time then it could even be 2020 before that comes out, it depends a lot on what the other guys are doing also. But we also have a really big Ritual World Tour that we'd love to do with Soulfly, this album deserves a really nice tour. We're going to try and incorporate a cool setlist with all of our big songs from every record, including songs from Ritual of course. It's going to be a big, long, setlist and we're going to try and create atmosphere on the stage by having big tribal statues, animals skulls, shit like that, I think that will look really cool. So that will probably take up most of my time next year, but the next project that I'm going to put my hands on will be Killer Be Killed for sure.

Awesome, can't wait for that! I hope Australia is on your list for this Ritual World Tour that you're talking about?

I really, really hope so man. It's one of my favourite places to go and visit, we've always had a great time whenever we've gone there over the many years we've been doing this. It just gets better and better and the fans are some of the best in the world. The place is amazing man, you know, I really hope we can work something out so that we can come out there with this new album Ritual. I definitely want Australia to be a part of the Ritual World Tour, it would be incomplete without you guys.

Do you have any words for all of your Aussie fans who are looking forward to hearing Ritual?

I just really hope they enjoy it man, it's definitely an album made for them, it's handcrafted for the fans, especially the hardcore Soulfly fans, they'll be really happy with this one. I want to thank all of the great fan in Australia, I know there's a lot of them and they're always super supportive with whatever project I'm a part of. You guys are amazing and I hope to see you all next year.

Pre-order Ritual from iTunes here:

Written by Steve Jenkins.

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