‘Everybody Wins': Max Cavalera on Old School Cavalera Conspiracy Album, Taking Influence From Bands He Influenced
Over the last two-plus decades, all we've heard is how fans want Max Cavalera, and now Iggor since he too has left, to return to Sepultura. Both sides have maintained that it just won't happen and for those who still unwaveringly cling to those hopes, there's good news. Psychosis, the newest album from Cavalera Conspiracy, should tickle your every desire for a Sepul-reunion.
The record is holistically old school from Arthur Rizk's scorchingly raw yet entirely meaty production to Max's riff selection, which will please anyone who champions Sepultura's first five albums as among the greatest in metal's expansive canon. "Insane," the opening track, makes this clear with sledgehammer subtlety and the bricks continue to crumble throughout the album's 41-minute runtime. On the whole, Psychosis thrashes with a feral rage, hitting on social discontent, war, and a bit of fun ("Crom" was inspired by the Conan the Barbarian film). There's still some familiar groove elements, which will always be the case with the Cavaleras, along with new experimentations like swells of electronic noise and other sonic abrasions.
We caught up with Max, who was wrapping up his tour with Soulfly, performing Nailbomb's 1994 industrial-leaning cult favorite Point Blank in full nightly. While discussing what makes Psychosis such a triumph, he touched on the old school approach from the writing to the recording and listed a bunch of his favorite new bands and how they've all helped influence each other as metal comes full circle. Check out the chat below, and for our conversation with Max about his diabetes foundation, the Iggy Fund, and universal healthcare, head here.
The production on Psychosis is completely old school. What was the mindset going into this album with Arthur Rizk in the studio?
From the beginning when we decided to work with Arthur, which was early on in the process, during the Roots tour he was doing drum tech for Iggor and he was showing us what he just got done, which was Power Trip, the Code Orange record and Inquisition record. I was blown away by the production. It was great, especially that Power Trip one he [where] got that thrash sound so perfect.
So I told him about my idea that I really want to tap into the whole mentality of the early [Sepultura] records that was that mix of death metal and thrash metal. Together, that made records like Beneath the Remains and Arise so good. That hasn’t been done much since and I was really interested in going back to that and making a full record of that to perfection with every song with a lot of riffs, a lot of tempo changes and really spending time on the little details of every song.
Arthur was the perfect guy to do that and we had a lot of fun doing that. We treated Psychosis like a labor of love from the beginning, from the selection of riffs — I spent like a month just doing riffs for the record. With the riffs itself, I wanted the riffs to sound similar to that era, so we just went for it. Even the vocal patterns that I use are a bit different on this album than they are on some of the other Cavalera [Conspiracy] and Soulfly records. They’re more old school vocal patterns like Sodom. [The mentality was,] "Don’t care much for the accent, the accent is okay just go with it, the words don’t need to be perfect in English, as long as they sound cool and they fit good with the song we’re good with that."
In some songs I went nuts and its just all about the rage of the vocals like forgetting to even follow the drums or the guitar, like on “Judas Pariah” – it’s just about the rage of the vocals and what you’re saying in the song. It goes over the top and I think it goes against the guitar and against the drums but somehow it works and makes the song real frantic. I love that we decided to do stuff like that. We had fun with the record like “Crom.” I watched Conan before I did the lyrics – we just watched the whole movie and went in the vocal booth and did the lyrics and made a song out of the movie.
This album toes the line between old school Sepultura, Nails, and new sounds like Full of Hell, who you brought out on tour recently.
I think it fits perfectly because that’s the evolution of metal. If you ask all those bands what they think of the older stuff like Arise and Schizophrenia, they all worship those records, if you ask Todd [Jones] from Nails or the guys from Full of Hell, they all love those records, but they took it to a new level on their own with their records which I love. All the Nails stuff... the last Full of Hell record I thought was a great; [there's] kind of like a Morbid Angel influence in some of the stuff.
I think it fits and its cool that we actually tap into some of that, especially on the noise side of it. With Psychosis we didn’t want to have any silence on the record so the whole record plays like this one song. We have noises and feedback and samplers and ambient stuff. Prurient did some stuff for the record which was great. We had stuff going all the time everywhere — it was crazy — I think we overloaded Arthur’s hard drive in his mind. That guy worked so hard on this record, it was inspiring.
You're always supporting the underground and looking for new music. What excites you the most about these up and coming bands?
First and foremost: I’m a metal fan. I’m a musician, an artist, but I’m a complete fan and I’ve never grown out of the complete fan faze I had when I was 13 or 14 – that’s always stayed with me. I’m always trying to discover new bands. Last year, for me Bolzer [Hero] was my favorite record. This year already I’ve heard so much cool stuff like Leng T’che, Origin, Dying Fetus – there’s been so many good records already. I like a lot of the underground stuff – I also like Gatecreeper, Homewrecker, Genocide Pact, Necrot – a lot of cool stuff going on in metal. I’m excited for it. It’s like a never-ending search for new music. All Pigs Must Die – the new record Hostage Animal, I love that record it’s so killer.
Where are you finding this music?
Some of it I found on Spotify, some of it I look for it, some of it my son tells me about it. He’s the one, my son Igor, who got me into Full of Hell. He knows a lot of the Baltimore bands so he got me into Noisem and a lot of that stuff. He’s friends with all those guys – the Gatecreeper guys, Homewrecker and all those great bands. Some of them I find on Spotify like Lord Mantis and Whoredom Rife. I love a lot of the heavy stuff that’s going on. I love the new Necrot record, Blood Offerings. Suffocation’s new record is great too, you can’t go wrong with that. Immolation, that was another inspiring band that we took on tour and I love their new record. They did a cover of [Sepultura's] “Morbid Visions” and I ended up singing on it for them. I don’t know what they’re going to use it for but I’m sure it’s going to come out on something at some point.
I’m not afraid to say to the world that I’m influenced by a lot of these new bands and a lot of them are influenced by what I did, so its cool – everybody wins, everybody’s influenced by everybody. Todd [Jones] wrote me a letter one time when we first met saying, “Hey by the way I ripped off the end of ‘Territory’ for one of my songs.” It’s so cool — I love it. I’m not mad that they ripped off the end of “Territory,” it’s great! I joked with him, “I’ll rip off some Nails shit and put in on my record.”
Thanks to Max Cavalera for the interview. Cavalera Conspiracy's 'Psychosis' will be released on Nov. 17 through Napalm Records. To get your copy, go here and to order the album digitally, head to this location.
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