Max Cavalera - Heavier Than You'll Ever Be

So I’m sitting across from an extreme metal pioneer and all round brutaliser, Max Cavalera of Soulfly, a man who's singing voice could scare most house pets, I’m recovering from a very nasty case of the flu, trying not to sweat like crazy and I’ve just compared him to Funk trailblazer and all round nutter George Clinton... He does not look impressed. In fact, I said he was like an extreme metal George Clinton...Shit.

Thankfully Max is a super relaxed, really nice dude, he smiles at my explanation, which is 'Being that you work with all these rotating, fantastically talented musicians, different styles and yet everything distinctly sounds Max Cavalera'.

'I think part of it is the way I write song songs, Man you know what I always try to do, I always try to really write "songs" with choruses, something that's massive, not just in Soulfly  but even on Sepultura songs, like 'Roots', 'Arise'  not like sing song but like [he pauses, I do the 'fist pump/metal salute motion, he smiles again] exactly man. I work real hard to write good choruses, and I think it's the trademark of a good song. It's become a bit of a trademark for me, so I have become a bit of a perfectionist in this area. So when I was working on a song like World Scum (from the upcoming new album - up to date ed) I knew I needed that really killer catchy chorus, and when I get it and it's there it's like "Yes!" you know? It's a great feeling'

So when you're sitting in the studio, listening on the monitors cranked when its mixed and just thing, "this is going to make kids in the pit go fucking crazy"

Max laughs, 'Yeah man, like that'

Phew, I’m relieved; it's a daunting task interviewing Max Cavalera, if I say I wasn't nervous I would be lying.

So I really need to introduce this man?

Honestly, for a website called Metal as Fuck I need to give background on this man? It's like explaining to an Iron Maiden fan who Eddie is. (that guy who plays keyboards for that band that does that Jump song, right? right???)

Ok just very quickly, Max Cavalera was the driving force of Sepultura. (when they were incredble, unlike the bland which followed)

He had an acrimonious split with his other band mates, including brother Iggor.

He released a record with his side project Nailbomb which as the name suggests was incredibly brutal and somewhat ground breaking.

He formed Soulfly which he continues to be the driving force behind today.

He buried the hatchet and reunited with his brother Iggor to form the Cavalera Conspiracy, of which he was in Australia to tour with for the Big Day Out and various sideshows.

Finally, on March 9, 2012 we will see the release of Soulfy's 8th studio record Enslaved on Roadrunner Records, and that's what I’m here to discuss.

I'd heard some advance tracks prior to the interview, about 11 in total. They are brutal as hell and cover a wide range of styles, it's almost like a thesis in the type of heavy Metal Max Cavalera loves. Heavy, fast, power grooves, big choruses and tonnes of heart. It's faster even than their last album, which was definitely a lot faster than previous Soulfly records.

On Enslaved the band have changed from Logan Mader (ex-Machine Head, producer of the Cavalera Conspiracy record and last Soulfly record) to metalcore uber producer Zeuss (Shadows Fall, Hatebreed, Whitechapel). So why the change?

'I always look for different people and on the engineer side of things I like to get a different approach, with his experience with all these heavy bands he has experience and a really good ear for making everything sound really heavy, but really clear.'

And heavy it is.For an album as cohesive sounding as it is, it's surprising to know that this album was written in two weeks.

'The record was done in a kind of crazy way. I was at home doing nothing and my wife came home and she said 'I've booked the studio for two weeks from now' and I was like 'Holy shit I’m not prepared' and I freaked out man, I truly freaked out. I said 'no way I’m gonna be ready' and she just said, 'you will' and I started working like a madman.'

[Max cracks a big smile] 'I started getting all these crazy riffs together. It was under the gun man. Maybe in a weird a way I think I work better under pressure, if I have too much time and relax I get a little lazy.'

The Cavalera Conspiracy record was done in a similar manner, but with this Max says, 'With Cavalera, it was more of a punk thing, just do it, if it feels good, don’t worry if it's not perfect, and don’t overdo it. But with Enslaved, I had this pressure and it had to be done in two weeks and everything had to be right which is good pressure. '

'I had a really good band to work with, David Kincaid (drummer, Borknagar) is a great drummer and it was great to watch him do those double bass pedals. I worked with him really closely on those, I wanted them to be like a machine, just blow you away, and he was perfect. 'So I had this chance to work with this new band Tony Compos (Bass, Prong, Static X) is new and of course Marc Rizzo (guitar since 2003) they're great musicians and I was confident they were going to deliver. So it was really exciting to see this album come together in the studio. Songs like 'orld Scum, Gladiator, Legions, Intervention... those were songs that really came out of nothing and came good, it was great man'

Of course, every Soulfly record has its guest spots.  This record features Dez Fafara of DevilDriver and Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation.

'I like hearing guys outside their normal band. Like Tom Araya (who guests on 2000's Primitive) when he said yes, I was on a cloud you know? I just heard Slayer for a week. In my car, at home. Just super excited.'

'We actually played it live at a festival we played with Slayer and Black Sabbath and Tom came and did Terrorist with us and came up without a bass, just put his hands in his pockets, like you know 30 years, he's played with a bass you know so he's not quite sure what to do with his hands! [Max smiles and laughs at the thought of playing with an idol]

'I also sprung it on him at the last minute, he didn't know and I knock on his dressing room and said, 'we're playing Terrorist last song of the set man!' and he was like 'No way! Holy Shit!  Alright!' It was great'

Without a doubt the heaviest song on the record is Reveangance, a song incredibly significant to Max for a number of reasons. He recorded the song with his sons Zyon (drums) and Igor (not to be confused with his brother Iggor) and Richie on vocals.

The song is also so significant because it is written for his murdered stepson and best friend Dana. I asked how it was to be on one hand recording with your sons being so proud, while the song itself is so heavy emotionally. 'It was like therapy in a way.  Musically it started as I wanted my kids to be involved, I started playing with Zyon and then Igor came up with a couple of really cool riffs. I was really proud of him; he's only 17 and writing really cool riffs. When it came to the lyrics, it came from Richie's lyrics and some of them came from Dana's diary, so that's where it all flowed from. Really powerful stuff. What I sing, and what little Igor sings, and where we all sing together, the "blood" parts which make it real heavy.’

‘So it was kinda like therapy for my sons too, they could sing about their brother, together...The murder is still unsolved and fucked up, and all we can do is write songs and do a memorial show every year, that's all we can do, and with a song like Reveangeance, the subject is so heavy I think it makes it very powerful. It was also a special moment, with all the family together. Zeuss came out into the studio and was taking pictures and everything. It was really special'

Ladies and gentlemen, Max Fucking Cavalera.

Soulfly's 'Enslaved' is released on March 9, 2012 Roadrunner Records.