Max Cavalera turned 48 years old this week (4th August) but it seems he has been around much much longer, having released a whopping 21 records via various bands not including his long list of collaborations with other artists, a handful of EPs and a few live albums to cap it off. The vocalist/guitarist fronted Sepultura from 1984 to 1997, Soulfly since 1997, Cavalera Conspiracy since 2007, the metal/industrial mash up Nailbomb in 1994 and 1995 and let’s not forget the metal super group, Killer Be Killed, whose second album is hopefully, still on the cards.
He returns to Australia this September to play Sepultura’s album, Roots in its entirety with brother and drummer, Igor Cavalera in what is already shaping as one of the most anticipated tours of 2017. The Roots touring concept was initiated last year as a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the album’s release but the brothers and promoters have been good enough to mutually agree to bring the show to Australia as well as a host of other Cavalera classics.
In the build up to the tour, Wall of Sound will feature a few articles up until Cavalera hits our shores and the first of those being our rating of all the Cavalera albums, from Number 21 down to our Number 1! Sure, to create some arguments, feel free to hit us up on the Wall of Sound Facebook or Twitter pages and vent your appreciation or likely anger at our pontifications. Anyway, without further ado, here we go….
21. SEPULTURA – Morbid Visions (1986)
Sepultura’s first full-length album. Max was 18 years old and Andreas Kisser was yet to join the band, with lead guitar duties taken by Jairo Guedz. A raw, thrashy, almost Brazilian Megadeth juggernaut had hit. The album is known for its poor production and out of tune guitars but amongst the debris some gems are still cranked out to this very day in Cavalera setlists including the anthemic ‘Troops of Doom’ and ‘Crucifixion’.
20. SEPULTURA – Schizophrenia (1987)
Barely a year had past but Sepultura had tunes oozing from their amps and Schizophrenia was the result. An improvement from their debut, with thrash still at the forefront. Tracks, ‘From the Past Comes the Storms’ and ‘Escape the Void’ highlights. Andreas Kisser had since joined the band and his blistering solos were quickly becoming a highlight.
19. CAVALERA CONSPIRACY – Pandemonium (2014)
The most recent CC album and what was built up as a step into grindcore ended up actually being the closest resemblance to any early Sepultura albums. Whilst thrashy and groove orientated, Max endeavoured to be more ‘growly’ or guttural on this album, really reaching into a bellowing roar across the record and despite best intentions the album kind of loses its impact from it’s repetitive shouting, breakdown and solos. Still, there can be no doubting it’s kamikaze relentlessness. ‘Cramunhao’ is a must hear.
18. SOULFLY – Savages (2013)
Soulfly’s 9th studio album, Savages, features Max’s son, Zyon Cavalera on drums and would of made his uncle, Igor Cavalera very happy. Savages harks back to a Sepultura sound, pre-Roots with less tribal sounds though it again features collaborations, this time with Clutch’s Neil Fallon on the track, ‘Ayatollah of Rock ‘N’ Rolla’, probably the most stupidest song name across the Cavalera range and also Napalm Death’s Mitch Harris on ‘K.C.S.’ The album starts off well but slowly becomes less inspiring into the second half of the album. One bizarre highlight is the 8 minute track ‘El Comegente’, a song sung in Portuguese and Spanish that has Max and bassist Tony Campos writing about a Venezuelan cannibal from the 80s.
17. SOULFLY – 3 (2002)
The aptly titled 3 album continued a similar direction for Soulfly and Max, wielding more tribal influences even branching off to even more experimental sounds including the keyboard-laced instrumental ‘Soulfly III‘ and the percussion showcase ‘Zumbi‘. Unfortunately little of it sticks. However there are some absolute gems in and around 3 that still resonate to this day, including the thrashy ‘Downstroy’ and ‘Seek N Strike’. Of more note is ‘Brasil’, sung in Cavalera’s native Brazilian and the epic, ‘Tree of Pain’, an 8 minute conglomerate of female vocals, acoustics, thrash and Cavalera aggression. It truly is one of Max Cavalera’s most underrated tracks.
16. SOULFLY – Prophecy (2004)
Soulfly’s fourth studio album is perhaps, Max Cavalera’s ultimate devotion to his spiritual side, with the lyrics firmly entrenched in Max’s religious beliefs. Having spent time in Serbia during the recording of Prophecy, the album is made up of several influences including reggae and even bagpipes. Prophecy is also noteworthy for Soulfly recording the album with a whole new band, introducing ex-Ill Nino guitarist Marc Rizzo, who remains with the band in its current line-up. Dave Ellefson, the Megadeth bassist also plays on 5 tracks including the cover of Helmet’s, ‘In the Meantime’. A solid album, but disjointed all the same.
15. SOULFLY – Conquer (2008)
Conquer is Cavalera’s most darkest album, a heavy slab of thrash, doom and hardcore and whilst the experimentation that Soulfly is famous for, is still there in parts for the majority, Conquer stands tall as offering the most ‘metal’ album that Cavalera has produced. From the Sabbath-like sludgy riffs of ‘Touching the Void’ and ‘Warmageddon’ to the outright war zone beats of ‘Unleash‘ and ‘Blood Fire War Hate’ that also features David Vincent of Morbid Angel, Conquer is everything the title would suggest.
14. CAVALERA CONSPIRACY – Inflikted (2008)
Inflikted brought together the two Cavalera brothers, Max and Igor for the first time since 1996’s Roots. Based around a post-thrash sound not too dissimilar to that of Chaos A.D the band contributed a solid debut with the title track, ‘Hearts of Darkness’ and single, ‘Sanctuary’ providing the highlights. Soulfly guitarist Marc Rizzo joined in on the fun too and some of his solos are again inspiring.
13. SOULFLY – Omen (2010)
If there was one album across the Cavalera range that highlighted the Soulfly sound most succinctly then Omen is the album. Nu-metal nuances into thrash with a few more collaborations for the sake of it. In particular the Greg Puciato, ‘Rise of the Fallen’ a definite highlight. It also features Cavalera with a melodic vocal on the track, ‘Victim’. Most of the lyrics with Omen are of a violent nature and again Cavalera loves a good storytelling, check out ‘Jeffrey Dahmer’.
12. SOULFLY – Enslaved (2012)
Enslaved is littered with blast beats, drummer David Kinkade simply ‘going off’ throughout this album, Cattle Decapitation’s, Travis Ryan adding his brutality on the track, ‘World Scum’, which bludgeons itself into your soul and one of the heaviest tracks ever recorded by Cavalera, pre-Cavalera Conspiracy’s, Pandemonium.
11. SOULFLY – Primitive (2000)
Soulfly’s second studio album has the most divided opinion amongst the Cavalera fan base from the whole of his vast discography, mainly because of the use of no less than 18 ‘guest’ musicians in various modes across the 12 racks. Most notable is the Corey Taylor collaboration on ‘Jumpdafuckup’, itself a love or hate track across Soulfly fans, but perhaps the most interesting piece is the track, ‘Son Song’ featuring Sean Lennon, where the band tone down the aggression for a grunge almost Alice in Chains like swagger as the two sing about their fathers who both died young.
10. SOULFLY – Archangel (2015)
The most recent of Soulfly albums, their tenth, is another aggressive slab that reaches more into the death metal range though, thrash and punk remain at the forefront of the sound. Two more collaborations, this time King Parrot’s Matt Young and Nails’, Todd Jones, both strong contributions. The album is the fastest of all the Cavalera efforts, coming in at just over the half hour mark. One listen to ‘Deceiver’ or ‘Mother of Dragons’ and you’ll get the picture straight off the bat. The album is steeped in religious literature throughout.
9. CAVALERA CONSPIRACY – Blunt Force Trauma (2011)
The 2nd Cavalera Conspiracy album is a full blown thrash groove metal tornado with the Cavalera brothers in fine form marking a faster succinct approach to what was a solid debut as a band. The solos between Max Cavalera and the talented Marc Rizzo are finger bleeding examples of metal at its finest as Cavalera spits hate into his lyrics that would make skin peel back. Tracks, ‘Warlord’, ‘Torture’ and ‘Target’ highlight these points and for epic story telling behind a heavy metal wall of sound look no further than ‘Genghis Khan’, ‘Burn Waco’ and ‘Rasputin’. A treasure chest of riffs on this album.
8. NAILBOMB – Point Blank (1994)
The industrial-metal mix of Sepultura’s Max Cavalera and Fudge Tunnel’s Alex Newport was a one off side project but the one studio album they did produce can rate highly in the Cavalera timeline. The Cavalera riff machine is in full effect this album though a more punk thrash side certainly is showcased on some tracks, see ‘Blind and Lost’ and ’24 Hour Bullshit’. Point Blank is abrasive, nasty and full of Newport’s industrial spice to add life to what was for all intent and purposes a nastier Ministry clone at the time.
7. SOULFLY – Soulfly (1998)
The record was released in memory of front man Max Cavalera‘s murdered stepson and the first album to feature Cavalera since leaving Sepultura two years prior. The album includes a truckload of musicians that helped to kick off Cavalera’s new band, 19 at last count with the track, ‘Eye For an Eye’ featuring Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares and Burton C.Bell and ‘Bleed’ featuring Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst and DJ Lethal two of the stand out tracks. What was predominately a nu-metal bouncing soundtrack, it continued the Cavalera Roots inspiration and continued the tribal influence.
6. SOULFLY – Dark Ages (2005)
Dark Ages called upon dark themes as Cavalera dealt with the death of his 8 month old grandson and good friend Dimebag Darrell around that time. It was recorded across five countries and whilst again crossing the post-thrash genre the 15-song album never meanders into repetition. The album explodes early much like Arise peaking with ‘Molotov,’ ‘Frontlines,’ and “Innerspirit” before drifting into that Soulfly patent experimentation that culminates with the ten-minute instrumental ‘Soulfly V’. The best of the Soulfly albums to date.
5. SEPULTURA – Roots (1996)
The final Sepultura studio album to feature Max Cavalera has sold over 2 million records worldwide. Known for its tribal Brazilian influence it is also the furthest departure from that original Sepultura sound of their entire catalogue. Nu-metal was the sound of the day back in the mid-90s with the Korn influence a massive influence in the recording of Roots, Igor Cavalera recently admitting as much in a radio interview from 2016. Despite the nu-metal influence, the heaviness was still largely evident, ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ and the violent ‘Cut-Throat’ and ‘Spit’ some clear examples of the Sepultura edge nu-metal. Whilst the solos of thrash albums Arise and Beneath the Remains are non-existent, the down tuned guitars certainly made for what has been classed as one of the heaviest albums of the past 30 years.
4. KILLER BE KILLED – Killer Be Killed (2014)
Another super group involving Max Cavalera, this time featuring Dillinger Escape Plan’s, Greg Puciato, Mastodon’s Troy Sanders and during recording, at least, Dave Elitch, previously of The Mars Volta. Comprising three vocalists the Killer Be Killed project was an intense wave of thrash, metal and even had room for experimentation, listen to ‘Save the Robots’. From the Cavalera inspired thrash to the Puciato aggression to Sanders more melodic vocal range, KBK ticked all the boxes and in doing so created one of the best debuts of the metal genre. Having witnessed the incredible live shows during Soundwave 2015 we can only hope that the band return with a follow up in the not too distant future.
3. SEPULTURA – Beneath the Remains (1989)
This album launched Sepultura to the forefront of thrash metal in the late ‘80s, early ’90s. Clearly the song writing had improved on previous effort, Schizophrenia. The Cavalera guttural range had matured, the solos were better, the bridges were better, the production was crisp. Iggor’s drumming was sublime. Sepultura had hit upon a perfect blend of death and thrash metal. Classics, ‘Inner Self‘, ‘Stronger Than Hate‘, ‘Slaves of Pain‘ and the title track with it’s subtle acoustic intro all as catchy as hell and anthems to this very day.
2. SEPULTURA – Chaos A.D (1993)
On the back of Arise, Sepultura chose a slight deviation on new album Chaos A.D, choosing a groove metal range. Listening to the abrasive riffs of ‘Territory’ and ‘Slave New World’ is still spine tingling to this day and add to that the politically charged lyrics of, ‘Refuse/Resist’, ‘Amen’ and ‘Nomad’, Chaos A.D dragged Sepultura to the top of the pile of Roadrunner Records who at the time were the echelon of heavy metal labels back in the ‘90s. How times have changed. Suffice to say, Chaos is a one of the best
metal records of all time.
and the winner is…
1. SEPULTURA – Arise (1991)
One of the greatest thrash albums of all time, Arise had it all. Utilising the Sabbath-esque slow build with aplomb, the band had taken Beneath the Remains three steps forward with blistering solos now evolved into more subtle creations without losing that flat out speed of BTR. From ‘Dead Embryonic Cells’ to the tile track to ‘Desperate Cry’, Arise blitzes throughout.
All the details of the upcoming Roots Anniversary shows down under can be found here
Look back on our interview with Max Cavalera pre-Archangel release here
Listen to our Killer be Killed interview with Max from back in 2014 here
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