Cavalera Conspiracy's Max Cavalera

Cavalera Conspiracy's Max Cavalera
These days, it seems as if everyone’s reuniting. David Lee Roth has shaken off the cobwebs to strut for Van Halen, the Police jammed their way through sold-out arenas last fall and, well, the Eagles seem to have been "reunited” for longer than they were together for the first time around. It’s about time heavy metal had a return of its own.

Apparently, that time has come as two of the most respected names in the metal community have been brought back together. Yet this isn’t your typical reunion. Cavalera Conspiracy not only finds band-mates working together again after almost a decade of inactivity, it also sees biological brothers finally breaking a very thick ice. As metal legend has it, seminal Brazilian thrash metallers Sepultura were dealt a severe blow around 1997 when founding member, vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Max Cavalera packed his bags and split. Frustrated with internal and business issues, he blindsided his colleagues by striking out on his own and forming renowned doppelganger act Soulfly. Trouble was, Cavalera’s decision also caused a rift within his own family as brother/drummer Igor Cavalera was left holding the Sepultura bag. Unable to sort out their issues, the two refused to speak to one another for a chilly ten years. History has proven that while both individuals forged on, the whole was never as great as the sum of its parts in either case. At least until now, thanks to Cavalera Conspiracy’s debut full-length Inflikted (out on Roadrunner Records).

Finally working out their issues and getting back to making sweet music together, the siblings - with the aid of Soulfly guitarist Marc Rizzo and Gojira bassist Joe Duplantier — have unleashed one of the year’s most ferocious, surprising and inspiring efforts. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to proclaim that Inflikted, with its detuned grunt, bombastic lyrics and hyperactive drumming, is the album that should have succeeded Sepultura’s widely-acclaimed 1996 powerhouse Roots. Max Cavalera relates how this definitive metallic moment came to be.

Inflikted must be quite the monumental album to you, given that it finds the Cavalera brothers reuniting after a decade.
This is the most special record of my life and career. I’m very happy to be playing with Igor again. To overcome the obstacles and the separation of more than ten years without talking to him was a tough time but I had faith that we would eventually conquer it, then become friends and brothers again. All of the work was worth it. It took every day for two years to get [this album] done.

What prompted the reunion after so long?

It was Igor. I always wanted to talk to him but could never find the words so I would blow it off. He’s different. He reaches a point so he exploded and said, "Fuck this... no one’s gonna stop me from talking to Max.” I’m so glad he had the energy to do that. One thing triggered the other. He called to be my brother again but musically, I’m guilty for wanting him to play drums with me again. I pushed for that.

You must have felt like a great weight was lifted off your shoulders, finally dealing with the issues.
Igor was in peace more than I was. After he talked to me, he had done what he’d set out to do. I was the one who wasn’t entirely happy or complete. Although I’m happy to be his brother again, there was a big musical void. One night, we jammed together playing "Roots” in Phoenix. The place went nuts and it was confirmation that I had to work with that motherfucker again. People get spiritual signs but I had a hardcore one right in my face, saying, "Write an album with your brother.” That’s when the Conspiracy was born.

Many long-time Sepultura and Soulfly fans feel this album could have more impact than your previous catalogues combined due to the politics surrounding it.
You couldn’t write a script this well. It was traumatic to split from [Sepultura]. It wasn’t typical because we’re brothers who founded the band together; we were the first band from Brazil to do what we did. There were a lot of first things we did together. When the split first hit the world, I didn’t want to leave my house. This time around, it’s the opposite side of that frustration and depression. I couldn’t foresee what’s going on now back then. To me it was over. But it wasn’t over. It was just starting.

What are the end results musically in your opinion? Did it take time to become comfortable working together after taking divergent musical paths and having to become reacquainted with one another?
What came out of this album was more than enough to fill the void of not working together for so long. It’s pretty intense. From the first moment, it’s war. Run for cover, motherfucker. It’s a politically incorrect album telling people to go out and kill [laughs]. It’s youthful; nonsense rebellion... there’s something right about it but it’s also so wrong. To me, when you bottle the frustration of years of not dealing with your issues, well, my shit just exploded personally and musically. Like the Minor Threat song, open the bottle and it explodes.

Inflikted is strange lyrically though. You seem even more abrasive on it than normal.
People ask why I’m so angry on this record. I don’t think they get it because they haven’t been through this shit. If you haven’t been through this kind of situation, how could you? I wasn’t afraid to let it all out.

How much of that cathartic process was planned musically versus just seeing what came out?
Not much was planned at all. For something not planned, this album is pretty cool. Most of my albums are like that. People think Roots was planned but it wasn’t. I just had a couple of ideas and the name. I think when things are unpredictable, they don’t turn out how you imagine. They go somewhere else and it works better — at least for what we do. If you’re doing a concept album like Pink Floyd, maybe you need to know more. I like the uncertainty... I get as curious as the fans. They wonder what it’s gonna sound like. I ask the same questions. Even I don’t know until it’s done. The original tapes from the start of Inflikted are a lot different than what you’re hearing now. But I like it.

So it felt like old times but you’re reborn?
There’s something new about [Igor] on this record. It’s like he’s reborn so he’s a kid again. Igor carries more of the youth of the record. I just feel old. Like, 666 years old.