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Sunday Old School: Soulfly

Photo of Soulfly

Band Photo: Soulfly (?)

Revenge is a motivation that's created some of the biggest moments in history, as well as many famous names in pop culture. Were Bruce Wayne not spurred on by the death of his parents (spoiler,) he wouldn't have become Batman and in a world closer to our own, we wouldn't have Megadeth if Dave Mustaine hadn't been kicked out of Metallica and sworn to create a faster, heavier and more intense group. Similarly, after the decision made by three of the four Sepultura members to fire their manager, her husband, the group's leader, Max Cavalera, quit the group and almost immediately founded a new one. One which has rivaled the commercial success of his previous outfit. One named, Soulfly.

Soulfly began life in 1997 in Phoenix, Arizona, where Max Cavalera and his wife Gloria had made their home. In addition to dealing with the split with Sepultura, Gloria's son, Dana, who was also a close friend of Max, had been murdered the previous year and as expected, left the couple with a feeling of total devastation. Inspired by a line in the Deftones song, "Head Up," on which Cavalera appeared, he named his new group Soulfly and recruited Lúcio Maia on guitar, bassist Cello Dias, who had previously played with another Sepultura alumnus, Jairo Guedes back in Brazil and drummer Roy Mayorga, formerly of the crust punk band Nausea and Hare Krishna hardcore group, Shelter.

Thanks in part to the name recognition of Cavalera, the band were able to sign with Roadrunner Records, through whom they released their self-titled debut in April 1998. The record featured a number of guest appearances from the likes of Deftones singer Chino Moreno, Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst and DJ Lethal, Fear Factory members Dino Cazares and Burton C. Bell and Dub War vocalist Benji Webbe, who would later find major success with Skindred. It was received quite well by critics and was able to reach as high number 79 on the Billboard album charts, though many fans of Cavalera's previous work were unimpressed by what they felt was a foray into the burgeoning nu metal style.

The commercial success of the album allowed the band to tour with such big names as Ozzy Osbourne and Megadeth, as well as with up and comers such as System of a Down and Snot, who disbanded a little while later due to the death of singer Lynn Strait and subsequently, their guitarist Mikey Doling was recruited by Soulfly after Lúcio Maia decided to return to Brazil and Nação Zumbi. This was not the only lineup change the band made, as Roy Mayorga was replaced by Chicago native Joe Nunez after touring. This lineup recorded Soulfly's sophomore album, "Primitive" which was released in 2000 and again featured numerous guest appearances, this time from Slayer frontman Tom Araya, Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor and a return by Chino Moreno.

"Primitive" proved to be more immediately successful commercially, peaking at number 32 in the United States and selling over a quarter of a million albums. The group returned to the Ozzfest festival following the release of the record and toured with the likes of Pantera and Morbid Angel. Following their time on the road, Nunez left the band and Soulfly approached Mayorga to rejoin them, an offer he accepted. The quartet returned to the studio and released their third album, appropriately entitled, "3" in 2002, which like their previous releases, received mixed reviews from critics but proved a commercial success, thanks in part to the popularity of the single, "Seek 'N' Strike."

After touring with Slayer and In Flames amongst other bands, Cavalera decided to fire Cello Dias and as a result, Mikey Doling and Roy Mayorga quit Soulfly in protest. The frontman then spent time travelling, particularly in Serbia where he found the band Eyesburn, who would collaborate on the next Soulfly album, "Prophecy," appearing on the track, "Moses." The lineup of Soulfly itself was completed by the returning Joe Nunez, Ill Nino guitarist Marc Rizzo and Primer 55 bass player Bobby Burns. "Prophecy" became their most critically successful album up to that point and continued the world music influences on tracks such as "Wings" and the traditional eponymous instrumental.

Only a year after "Prophecy," Soulfly released their fifth album, "Dark Ages," which marked the first time they recorded consecutive albums with the same lineup. It was another hit with the critics, who viewed the album as a return to Cavalera's thrash roots and was notable for being recorded in no less than five countries, namely the United States, Serbia, Turkey, France and Russian, as well guest spots from Slayer's Kerry King and S.O.D./M.O.D. vocalist Billy Milano, who recorded his part over the telephone. While promoting the album, Soulfly performed at the tenth annual memorial show for his stepson Dana, where for the first time since 1996, Max performed with his brother Igor, following the lattter's own departure from Sepultura that year and subsequently led to the creation of the Cavalera Conspiracy project.

It would be another three years before Soulfly released their next album, 2008's, "Conquer," which was due to the recording of the Cavalera Conspiracy debut, "Inflikted" (released only four months before "Conquer") and Max Cavalera's trip to Egypt to record sounds and instruments for the record. It received generally positive reviews and was promoted by several tours, including one in North America with Cattle Decapitation and Prong, whose frontman Tommy Victor would appear on the next Soulfly album, "Omen," which was released in 2010.

This seventh output proved popular with most critics and also contained a guest appearance by Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciato on the single, "Rise of the Fallen." It would be the final record to feature the Cavalera/Rizzo/Burns/Nunez lineup, as Burns announced on Twitter two months after the album's release that he was leaving the group. He was then replaced by veterans bassist Tony Campos, who had performed with such bands as Static-X, Asesino and Ministry among others.

Campos made his recording debut with Soulfly on their eighth album, "Enslaved," which hit the shelves in 2012, along with fellow new member David Kinkade of Borknager, who replaced Nunez in the group. "Enslaved" received generally positive reviews and as per tradition, featured guest appearances, this time from Coal Chamber/Devildriver frontman Dez Fafara on the song, "Redemption of Man by God" and Cattle Decapitation's, Travis Ryan on the single, "World Scum." The record was also very much a family affair, as Cavalera's sons, Zyon and Igor Jr appeared on the song, "Revengeance," along with Max's stepson, Richie Cavalera of Incite. All three young Cavaleras then joined Soulfly on tour, with Zyon and Igor's band Lody Kong opening, while Incite also performed.

Following a show in Bangkok, Thailand, Kinkade announced his retirement from music and was replaced by Zyon Cavalera, who made his first recording appearance as a full time member of the group on the 2013 album, "Savages," which also included his brother Igor as a guest on the opening track, "Bloodshed," as well as Clutch frontman Neil Fallon and Napalm Death guitarist/vocalist Mitch Harris. It marked the end of Soulfly's fifteen year relationship with Roadrunner, released instead by Nuclear Blast Records, garnering a generally positive reaction from critics once more and charting in Hungary as well as the United States.

The recording lineup of the band remained the same for their next record, the well received, "Archangel," which was released in August 2015, though this was the last Soulfly album to feature Tony Campos, who left to join Fear Factory shortly before it's release. At present, Soulfly do not have a permanent bassist in place, though they have been using Mike Leon as a touring member since "Archangel" hit the shelves. Since then Max Cavalera has been focused on his work with his brother Igor, celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Sepultura album, "Roots," by performing the record in full on tours, but in a video statement released earlier this week, confirmed that he will also be performing the Nailbomb album, "Point Blank" in its entirety, most likely with Soulfly.


Soulfly - "Eye For An Eye"

Soulfly - "Back To The Primitive"

Soulfly - "Seek 'N' Strike"

Soulfly - "Prophecy"

Soulfly - "Soulfly V"

Soulfly - "Blood Fire War Hate"

Soulfly - "Rise Of The Fallen"

Soulfly - "World Scum"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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