And so it came to pass that in the Year of Our Lord 2018 our humble columnist (that’s myself, in case you were wondering) found themself eating Annie’s organic honey Bunny Grahams in bed and pondering which of the 10 albums from tribal metal legend Max Cavalera’s Soulfly is the heaviest. While a new one is on the way from the group later this year, I think their most ominous currently might be the band’s 2012 death metal-influenced effort Enslaved. It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since the April, 21, 1998 release of Soulfly’s self-titled debut album. A nu metal-influenced groove thrash Ross Robinson-produced monster of a record, it began a whole new chapter for Cavalera.
After a split with the influential thrash gods Sepultura of Brazil, Cavalera went into Indigo Ranch Studios and cranked out a ferocious groove-heavy album that featured cameos from members of Fear Factory, Deftones and even Fred Durst. The album was a huge win for Max as well as a touching celebration of life that he dedicated to his murdered stepson Dana. It also has the best Hootie & the Blowfish diss moment in all of metal history. Following years found him subsequently collaborating with everyone from Sean Lennon to Greg Hall of Sacred Reich to Tommy Victor of Prong, always refining his main band’s sound and staying motivated.
As I write this Trump is making an ass out of his obviously guilty self by raging about the FBI seizing documents from his definitely-not-going-to-take-the-fall-for-him lawyer Michael Cohen. Guess what? A criminal investigation is not “an attack on our country.” It’s nice to know that he is in such hot water at this point that I don’t have to even bother complaining about him in this space this week as he will clearly have a hard time wriggling out of this one unless … he nukes us all. Wait, that is still bad. Crap.
Anyway, I have been a big fan of Max Cavalera since my first Sepultura tape years ago that my local friend Jeremy Ulrich dubbed for me. Chaos A.D. changed my life and made me realize that heavy music was something that truly resonated with me. I still talk about it with someone or other on a regular basis and was in fact just on Instagram commenting about the drum fills on Life of Agony’s new drummer Veronica Bellino’s short performance clip of herself jamming on the drum intro to the album’s rollicking war-torn epic Territory.” While I wish Max would lay off criticizing his former Sepultura bandmates and solely focus instead on his fertile present with Soulfly, Killer Be Killed and Cavalera Conspiracy, he does get asked about the past a lot by fans. This actually is kind of a disservice to all the good music Cavalera has done since, and there has been a lot of it.
I love that in a time when we are actively being discouraged to believe in the value of cultural exchange by bigots on the far right, an artist from Brazil such as Max Cavalera can still be one of the rulers of heavy metal by keeping inspired to collaborate with other fellow rockers young and old and incorporating everything from reggae to thrash to flirtations with Middle Eastern influences into Soulfly’s sound since 1998.
I think one time when Soulfly played the Chance, if I recall it was with nu-funk boy band with actual major chops Incubus opening for them before Incubus went on to become a radio rock crossover act, people were going so apeshit that someone threw themself off the upper balcony. I can’t imagine that happened at too many shows over the years, despite how many heavy acts have played the historic venue. (Editor’s note: Oh pshaw. I flung myself off the balcony *twice* during a Marillion show at The Chance in 1987.) Cavalera returns in force on April 21 to Poughkeepsie, with technical death metal and ancient evil-obsessed band Nile in tow. Nile have albums with names like Ithyphallic and
Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka, so you would be correct in surmising that they get pretty grim. Truly this is a show of two very influential bands for heavy music bringing their best wicked offerings to what will surely be a packed house. It is the biggest heavy show yet for the area in 2018 and well worth the $25. Doors are at 6 p.m. and you should expect a very riled up crowd.
In closing, I actually turned 40 last week. A lot of people never expected me to live out my teenage years. It is a pretty wild feeling to look back on four decades of memories and find that all the faces, voices and snippets of song that drift in and out of recollection feel like a blessing right now. For all the dramas, hopes, dreams and chapters in life, I appreciate almost most of you. I’ve been really blessed to have readers, fans, friends and fellow musicians around me in droves for most of my life. I am thankful for the artistic merit and ongoing saga of our area. I miss the bands that are gone like Closed Third Eye, Tiam, Peacebomb or whoever. I’ve had fun conversations with everyone from Pete from Pitchfork Militia to Gabriel Butterfield to members of The Tubes, L7 or Disturbed. I guess what I am trying to say is this — we all find our tribe eventually and if you haven’t yet, it’s still worth trying to.