Soulfly at the International in Knoxville, Tennessee on October 22, 2015
Max Cavalera has been carrying the torch for thrash metal and metal music in general for over thirty years.
Whether it be his genre defining work with Brazilian legends Sepultura, his fronting of the often under appreciated Soulfly, his many brilliant side projects such as Nailbomb, Cavalera Conspiracy (which saw him reunite with brother and fellow original Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera) or the more recently formed Killer Be Killed, Cavalera could easily challenge and beat out all comers seeking to be king of the thrash metal world.
Here’s the thing though, if the metal gods were to choose to anoint Cavalera as their king, he’d likely spit on the crown, throw it into a mosh pit and write a masterpiece of record denouncing the monarchy.
Just in case you’re wondering, yes Cavalera is that much of a bad ass and his sublime talent as musician as well a song writer should never come into question as here are countless reasons why well respected hard rock and metal icons such as Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters) and Chino Moreno (Deftones) have chosen to collaborate with Cavalera over the years.
Cavalera brought the Soulfly tribe to the International in Knoxville this past week and the band nearly ripped the roof from its trusses with yet another bombastic and powerhouse metal performance that all who were attendance for should consider themselves lucky to have witnessed first hand.
Touring on the critically well received and tenth Soulfly studio release, Archangel, the band tore through a blistering 90-minute set of ferocity that had the International crowd moshing, thrashing and crashing into one another all evening long.
The set list Soulfly chose to feature included more than a few tracks off of the recently released Archangel including the title track “Archangel,” “Titans,” “Ishtar Rising,” and in my opinion one of the best Soulfly tracks ever produced, “Sodomites.”
Cavalera along with son Zyon (Drums), Marc Rizzo (lead guitar) and relatively new Soulfly touring bass player Mike Leon got the masses wound up by also cranking out Soulfly classics such as “Seek n’ Strike,” “Prophecy” and the crunching one, two punch of a set closer, “Jump Da Fuck Up and “Eye for an Eye.”
My affinity and respect for Cavalera and Soulfly’s music is unbending however I would be lying if I didn’t admit that one of the highlights of my attending any Soulfly concert is when Sepultura riffs make their way out of the amps and into the crowd.
This past Thursday proved to be no different as both myself and the vast majority of the fans got whipped into an immediate time warp and frenzy when the first chords of Sepultura tracks such as “Refuse/Resist,” “Dead Embryonic Cells/Arise” and “Roots Bloody Roots” were struck.
The days of thrash and sped metal shows selling out venues in this country has long since passed, assuming those times actually ever even existed. However, you have to understand something, metal is a club that doesn’t accept memberships, you are simply either in or you’re out.
Metal doesn’t tolerate fair weather fans or passengers and I suspect the legends of the industry such as Cavalera himself would likely share this sentiment and wear it as a badge of honor.
Should you wish the defense to submit facts to support this case the only piece of evidence I’d ever present to the jury would be any live performance by Cavalera himself.
Over the years I’ve seen Cavalera perform in front of tens of thousands at events such as Ozzfest, several thousand in amphitheaters fronting Sepultura and even on the lighted stage in front of several hundred ravaging fans.
The takeaway from every single one of those performances is whether it be one person or one hundred thousand people in the audience Cavalera plays like it’s his last show on Earth and he always makes the fans feel as though they are part of his personal tribe.
This past week at the International in Knoxville Cavalera and Soulfly proved that nothing has changed as the band connected with the thrash starved audience from first note to last and delivered a performance any metal outfit would consider themselves lucky to emulate, let alone actually be able to pull off.
All hail king Cavalera, long live the king.