A masterpiece in the works10/7/2015
Soulfly front man Max Cavalera is no stranger to the metal scene. Before Soulfly started in 1997, Cavelera was the vocalist/guitarist for Sepultura, one of the most influential metal acts of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Co-founding that band when he was just 14, Cavalera has been involved in the metal scene virtually all his life.
Soulfly has released 10 studio albums since its inception, with Cavalera handling most of the songwriting duties and controlling the band’s sonic progression. For him, the act of creating an album should be a personal challenge. Sticking to a formula just because it worked in the past is something that Cavalera sees as lazy and uninteresting.
“I always try to add something that I’ve never done before,” he explained in a phone interview. “That is what keeps me interested in the albums, is to keep things fresh and add things that I’ve never done before. It’s more fun when you have a theme for the record. It’s more exciting when you have something like that in front of you, as opposed to an album that doesn’t have any direction.”
For Soulfly’s most recent album, “Archangel,” that theme came from an unlikely place: the Bible. Half of the songs on “Archangel” draw directly from books or stories from the Bible, with the other half counterpointing the godly themes with more “traditional” metal fare.
“It seemed like a really cool idea that I could build an idea around that,” he said of the biblical influence. “I wanted to make the album half biblical and half metal.
“I worked a lot on this album. I worked a lot on the riffs, and a lot of jamming with my son, then a lot of time in the studio. I think that is why this album might sound more mature or evolved than some of the earlier (albums), because of all the time that went into it. I’m really proud of it.”
“Archangel,” released this past January, has received glowing reviews from virtually every critic and pundit who has bothered to put pen to paper. Album sales, however, have not been quite as strong, as “Archangel” became Soulfly’s second-lowest charting album to date. That is not, however, something that Cavalera sees as indicative of the album’s actual success, which is something that will only be determined through the test of time.
“Nobody sells anymore,” he said. “Everyone’s kind of given up on album sales. We all live off touring and merchandise. The CD is more like a business card now. Of course I’d love to sell more, but I won’t change my music, my life, my career to do that. The reviews were awesome. Amazing. The sales in the States? Not so good. But I’ll continue doing it. Grammys and gold albums don’t mean a whole lot. For me, it’s about the fans. When a song becomes a classic? When people know the words and react when you play it live. That’s when I feel thrilled. It’s what motivates me.”
Even though Cavalera has been making metal music for more than three decades now, he still feels that passion to create and connect with fans in a timeless fashion. He also firmly believes that now is not the time for worrying about legacy or resting on laurels. There are still classics to make.
“I like to think that the best is yet to come,” he said. “I did a lot of cool stuff in the past, but I don’t live for them. I’m still looking for a perfect album. My masterpiece is yet to come.” CV