STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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Sepultura’s gold-selling 1996 release, “Roots,” found the thrash metal band mixing up their hard-hitting sound with traditional Brazilian rhythms, and even collaboration with that country’s Xavante indigenous tribe.
Max Cavalera, whose writing and raging vocals shaped the band’s best-regarded releases, shared in a phone interview that when “Roots” came out, his good friend Dave Grohl “blew up” a set of speakers he had bought for his then-new band Foo Fighters while playing it at top volume.
“Right when Kurt (Cobain) died, he came to a (Sepultura) show. He loves heavy music, and it shows. Nirvana wanted Sepultura and The Dead Kennedys on tour with them,” Cavalera said.
Cavalera and his brother, Iggor, have since departed Sepultura for other projects, but this year hit the road with a guitarist and the bassist from their band Cavalera Conspiracy to present “Max & Iggor Cavalera Return to Roots.”
There’s a caveat, however. In a festival setting, such as Rock Allegiance, time doesn’t allow them to perform “Roots” in its entirety. That was the case when Max & Iggor Cavalera Return to Roots were recently part of a festival in Canada. “It’s a long record. I didn’t realize it till I went to (re-) listen to it,” he said.
Tracks that are not likely to be skipped, because of how much Cavalera loves them, are “Roots Bloody Roots,” “Attitude,” “Spit” and “Straighthate.” Other tracks that are probably safe are “Ambush,” “Born Stubborn” and “Endangered Species” because, Cavalera revealed, Sepultura did not play them live, even 20 years ago when they were brand new.
Some tracks have to be modified for concert presentation, such as “Lookaway,” which on the album featured guest vocals from Mike Patton of Faith No More and Jonathan Davis of Korn.
“The hardest part is keeping the (same tempo as the recording) because Iggor tends to play everything faster,” Cavalera said of his drummer brother.
“It was a fun record to make,” he added, mentioning the contributions of Brazilian musician Carlinhos Brown to “Roots.”
Max & Iggor Cavalera Return to Roots are also scheduled to tour Europe and South America before returning home the day before Christmas. Cavalera hinted that his band Soulfly should be doing something special for their 20th anniversary in 2017. If you did the math in your head just now, you figured out “Roots” marked the end of his time with Sepultura.
“I wasn’t planning on it. There was a tragic event in my family — my stepson died. It was a very confusing, dark moment. The music (in Sepultura) was great, the shows were great … outside was not pretty; there was not a lot of communication,” he said.
Cavalera described Soulfly as musically fulfilling, so leaving Sepultura was “maybe meant to happen.”
However, someday, he’d like to give Sepultura’s 1991 album “Arise” the same concert tour treatment. “That was the peak of our death metal/thrash metal alliance,” he said.