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Soulfly

+ {Cavalera Conspiracy} + {Nailbomb}

Disciples of death-metal act SEPULTURA were struck with the dilemma of forking out for two similarly-atonic bands when leader Max Cavalera opted to form his own heavy hardcore group, SOULFLY, in 1997; he’d also been part of two-album combo NAILBOMB, alongside FUDGE TUNNEL’s Alex Newport. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, away from his roots in Belo Horizonte, SOULFLY’s Brazilian growler/guitarist enlisting the aid of Lucio (aka lead guitarist Jackson Bandiera), Marcelo D. Rapp (bass) and former punk rocker, Roy “Rata” Mayorga (drums).
Max had recently found faith in God after his step-son, Dana – offspring of wife/manager, Gloria – died in a car crash; his other sons, Zyon and Igor also had serious illnesses around the same time. However, mad Max had never wavered from his “ungod”-like vocal chords, as his new act (under the production of Ross Robinson) unleashed their thrillingly diverse eponymous SOULFLY {*8} set in the spring of ‘98. The contrast between the tribal `Umbabarauma’ (originally by Jorge Ben Jor) and the grinding `No’ somehow worked, the latter’s refreshingly metal assault on the ears and the line, “no motherf***in’ HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH”, supplying the definitive metal tracks of all time.
The follow-on PRIMITIVE (2000) {*6} set kicked off with the excellent but skewered `Back To The Primitive’, certainly one of the highlights of the year. Guitarist Mikey Doling and drummer Joe Nunez had now filled the respective berths of Bandiera and Mayorga, and like SEPULTURA in their ever-evolving agenda, SOULFLY suffered from instability. The sheer intensity and straight-ahead thrash of `Pain’ (featuring DEFTONES’ Chino Moreno), `Jumpdafuckup’ (featuring Corey Taylor of SLIPKNOT) and a post-grunge-styled `Son Song’ (appropriately led by SEAN LENNON), the Toby Wright-produced record had high spots as well as low ones; Tom Araya (of SLAYER) probably stretched the guest-list idea a little too far.
3 (2002) {*6} found Cavalera in as uncompromising form as he’s ever been, letting loose a rage which unfortunately dissipated in inarticulacy and blind alleys as often as it seared the senses. With percussion man Mayorga back in the fold, opener `Brasil’ resembled a demonic carnival gone wrong; Max’s spitfire Portuguese raining down like molten hail. While other highlights included the coruscating epic `Tree Of Pain’, the gung-ho `Call To Arms’, and a timely cover of SACRED REICH’s `One Nation’, there was a definite sense that the concept – if not the reality – of SOULFLY needed some fresh creative juice.
Not as well-received commercially as the band’s previous triumvirate of sets, 2004’s PROPHECY {*7} was another excursion into max’s mindful myriad. Carved out in stone and grinding out steamroller riffs to die for, punk, metal and even MARLEY-esque reggae-jam (the latter by way of the 7-minute `Moses’), SOULFLY could at least pat themselves on the back for attempting to fry-up fresh territories. That said, the pounding title track, `Living Sacrifice’ and a reading of HELMET’s `In The Meantime’, marked out their metal; note too that MEGADETH’s bassist Dave Ellefson played bass on half the set (the other half was performed by full-time member Bobby Burns), while former ILL NINO guitarist Marc Rizzo and the returning Nunez proved worthy components of the all-new ‘Fly IV.
It would be the same line-up that served up the next three consecutive SOULFLY sets, DARK AGES (2005) {*7}, CONQUER (2008) {*6} and OMEN (2010) {*6}, all with nothing much to write home about, save for their usual angst-ridden world-metal. While the first of these records didn’t create a ripple inside the Top 100, the latter pair were indeed bigger sellers, tracks such as `Paranoia’, `Unleash’ (featuring THROWDOWN’s Dave Peters), `Blood Fire War Hate’ (with co-vox by David Vincent) – all from “Conquer” – reinstated the guest role attendance; PRONG’s Tommy Victor and DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN’s Greg Puciato asserted “Omen”’s respective presence on `Lethal Injection’ and `Rise Of The Fallen’.
Meanwhile, Max was exercising his metal muscle when he buried the proverbial hatchet with brother Igor, to found CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, a 4-piece also comprising Marc Rizzo and bassist Joe Duplantier (ex-Gojira). Retaining the group’s gritty and original moniker as the title of their inaugural album, INFLIKTED (2007) {*7} garnered some decent reviews and a Top 100 place. Igor was now free of SEPULTURA having left messrs Kisser, Green and Paulo Jr to their own devices the previous year. The siblings worked well together again, running through on usual-suspect titles, `Bloodbrawl’, `Ultra-Violent’ and `Must Kill’. If the world of metal was ready for another blast of brash, lightning-bolt throwbacks, a second peace offering was unveiled on 2011’s BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA {*6}; Johnny Chow now superseded Duplantier. Highlighting the Rottweiler howl of AGNOSTIC FRONT’s Roger Miret on `Lynch Mob’, and repeating the fiery formula of its previous contender through `Warlord’, `Torture’, `I Speak Hate’, `Burn Waco’ and `Rasputin’, Max, at least, engaged himself with all things evil. Three covers also emerged from the bonus-track pack:- `The Exorcist’ (POSSESSED), `Electric Funeral’ (BLACK SABBATH) and `Six Pack’ (BLACK FLAG).
Time then to mention several SOULFLY B-side renditions up to now:- `Under The Sun’ (BLACK SABBATH), `I Will Refuse’ (PAILHEAD), `Ain’t No Feeble Bastard’ + `The Possibility Of Life’s Destruction’ (DISCHARGE), `Time For Living’ (BEASTIE BOYS), `Angel Of Death’ (SLAYER), `California Uber Alles’ (DEAD KENNEDYS), `Territorial Pissings’ (NIRVANA), `Exodus’ (BOB MARLEY), `Smoke On The Water’ (DEEP PURPLE), `Sailin’ In’ (BAD BRAINS), `The Beautiful People’ (MARILYN MANSON), `Roots Bloody Roots’ + `Refuse-Resist’ (SEPULTURA), `Four Sticks’ (LED ZEPPELIN), `Your Life, My Life’ (Excel),
Despite losing a couple of personnel when Burns, then Nunez, left for pastures new, SOULFLY were back on track when bassist Tony Campos (ex-STATIC-X, ex-MINISTRY, ex-PRONG) and drummer David Kinkade (ex-Borknagar) took the band beyond the boundaries of brutality in ENSLAVED (2012) {*6}. Unwilling to go the prog-concept way of rivals SEPULTURA, the guest-spot roles were once again in full flow via COAL CHAMBER’s Dez Fafara (on `Redemption Of Man By God’) and Travis Ryan (on `World Scum’), while it was an all-round family affair, when sons Ritchie and Zyon (plus bro Igor), closed the show with `Revengeance’.
It was inevitable that coming-of-age Zyon would join up with the band, taking the position of Kinkade on the fresh Nuclear Blast-endorsed ninth set, SAVAGES (2013) {*7}. Once again a respectable attraction sales-wise, the set took on a topical and transient approach on today’s societal news bytes. Augmented by Neil Fallon (of CLUTCH) on `Ayatollah Of Rock’n’Rolla’, and beefing up their doom-laden head-busters courtesy of mythical monsters `Cannibal Holocaust’, `Master Of Savagery’ and `K.C.S.’, one couldn’t help how far metal had come since 70s icons BLACK SABBATH, 80s/90s metal-meisters METALLICA had taken the world by storm.
Not content with running one band, Max had time and energy to form another, the supergroup KILLER BE KILLED. Named so late in 2013 when emerging from the studio with their soon-to-be Top 60 eponymous set, Max (vocals/guitar), The DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN’s Greg Puciato (vocals/guitar), MASTODON’s Troy Sanders (vocals/bass) and former The MARS VOLTA’s Dave Elitch (drums/percussion), created a bit of a stir in usual circles, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer and Terrorizer.
Hitting double figures a la 2015’s ARCHANGEL {*7}, mad Max’s SOULFLY had lost none of their angst and revolutionary spirit. Touches of thrash and prog-metal, the bible-munching, carcass-caressing head-spinners had to be `Sodomites’ (featuring Todd Jones), the title track, `Bethlehem’s Blood’, `Ishtar Rising’ and the devilish opener `We Sold Our Souls To Metal’. Sadly underrated commercially (US #130/UK #57), SOULFLY are a war rather than a battle, but further inspections always produce an unholy alliance. Campos would bail for FEAR FACTORY upon its release.
© MC Strong 2000-2004 // rev-up MCS Dec2013-Aug2015

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