Max Cavalera Discusses Heavy Metal, ’80s Thrash Metal and More


Max Cavalera, the legendary Brazilian heavy metal musician known for his work with bands like Sepultura, Soulfly, and Cavalera Conspiracy recently sat down with Greg Prato from All Music for an interview to discuss heavy metal, ’80s thrash metal, and some of his other favorite artists. 

Max Cavalera’s Current Project

Cavalera is currently part of a project simply called “Cavalera“, which features his brother Igor Cavalera on drums, his son Igor Amadeus Cavalera on bass, and Travis Stone from Pig Destroyer on guitar. This lineup makes it a very personal endeavor for Max. Max shares his thoughts on his latest band.

For me, it’s an amazing feeling. Because you get to combine the music aspect of it with the family aspect of it – which are both my passions. Me and my brother are in our mid-fifties right now. You have the experience and the wisdom of the brothers, and you have the youth and the energy of my son and Travis

Re-recording Early Sepultura Albums

The Cavalera project has been re-recording early Sepultura albums like “Schizophrenia” (1987), allowing Max to revisit the band’s thrash metal roots with his family members. He discusses the thrash metal explosion of the mid-to-late 1980s, citing bands like Metallica, Exodus, and Destruction as major influences on Sepultura’s early sound. He gives credit to his wife for inspiring the re-recording of the earlier album. His wife, Gloria commented,

Wouldn’t it be cool if you guys re-recorded your early stuff? Because the sound of it is a bit crap. And I was like, You can be honest. It’s total dogshit. But they’re amazing songs – that we wrote as teenagers.

Max is hoping to inspire other legendary thrash metal bands to re-record their earliest iconic albums.

I’d love to hear Slayer’s Show No Mercy with a killer sound recording. Or Exodus: Bonded by Blood, or Metallica: Kill ‘Em All. So, I think for us, it was kind of an easy decision. Like, ‘This sounds really shitty. It would be cool to give them a real, true sound – but keep the savagery of the original.’

Thrash Metal’s Underground Beginnings

While thrash was still underground in the 80s, Cavalera notes that Metallica’s success, especially after opening for Ozzy Osbourne in 1986, hinted at the genre’s potential for mainstream popularity. Much like Metallica’s James Hetfield, Cavalera also mentions drawing inspiration from punk rock in those early days.

It was an exciting time in metal, especially the mid to late ’80s – metal was reinventing the wheel. The old guard – Iron Maiden and Judas Priest – were still there, but there was something new coming up. The death metal, the thrash, hardcore – those three elements really helped shape the sound of what Sepultura was doing back then.

When we recorded Schizophrenia, this album is like we drank a lot from the fountain of the likes of Metallica, Exodus, Destruction, and some punk stuff. The actual name of the album was taken from a punk band from Finland called Riistetyt. They’re from the hardcore/Discharge area of sound. And they had an album called Skitsofrenia which I thought was a cool name, so I just borrowed the name for this album.

Max’s Favorite Thrash Albums

Surprising to some, Max’s favorite albums from the thrash metal era do not include any of the legendary big four bands. 

At that time, probably Dark Angel: Darkness Descends, Voivod: Killing Technology, Celtic Frost: Morbid Tales and To Mega Therion. And some punk stuff as well, like Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, Discharge: Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing. We listened to a lot of that stuff.

His music appreciation extends beyond heavy metal, thrash metal, and death metal. 

I like a lot of Paul Simon and world music. Peter Gabriel, Dead Can Dance…some rock stuff like Tom Petty and Eddie Money. My favorite one of that is probably Link Wray. Link Wray is ‘my guy’ – I’ve been a fan for a bunch of years. Some fans may be surprised to learn I like some country music. Which I never liked it when I was a kid. But it kind of grew on me and I liked it – especially the outlaw country stuff, the old school cats.

The Current and Future State of Heavy Metal

The state of the heavy metal scene is always in flux. While doomsayers prophesy metal music’s demise, the genre’s resilient character renders such grim forecasts improbable. Max shares his thoughts on the state of heavy metal.

This is what’s cool and fun about metal – it goes in circles. You see some of these revivals. And they’re fun and exciting.

That’s the thing about metal – it’s like cockroaches, it won’t ever die. It endures. It morphs into different things, but it stays there – it never really goes away.

Sometimes, it’s less popular and more popular, but it never just totally dies out. That’s what attracts me. I’m a lifer – I’m going to be doing this my whole life.


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