Max Cavalera

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Max Cavalera
Cavalera performing in 2018
Cavalera performing in 2018
Background information
Birth nameMassimiliano Antonio Cavalera
Also known asMax Possessed
Born (1969-08-04) August 4, 1969 (age 54)[1]
Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active1984–present
Member of
Formerly of

Massimiliano Antonio "Max" Cavalera (Portuguese pronunciation: [masimiliˈɐnu ɐ̃ˈtonju kɐvɐˈleɾɐ]; born August 4, 1969) is a Brazilian musician. He co-founded the heavy metal band Sepultura in 1984 with his brother Igor Cavalera, and was the band's lead singer and rhythm guitarist until his departure in 1996. He currently plays in the heavy metal bands Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, Killer Be Killed and Go Ahead and Die. Cavalera was also involved in a short-lived side project called Nailbomb.[2]

Career and influences[edit]

Max Cavalera's father, Graziano Cavalera, was an employee of the Italian Consulate in Belo Horizonte. He died at 41 years of age, when Max was nine years old. Cavalera's family was in a state of financial crisis and family turbulence when he formed Sepultura with his younger brother Igor, in the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Tereza in Belo Horizonte. He moved to São Paulo in 1989 together with the other members of the band, and shared an apartment in Santa Cecília (district of São Paulo). In 1992, he relocated to Phoenix, Arizona. He did not begin to make spiritual music until after he quit Sepultura. His earlier lyrics for Soulfly were influenced by religion and spirituality, though he is critical of religion. His later albums, starting with Dark Ages, began to incorporate lyrical themes of violence, warfare, anger and hatred. His albums have all been dedicated to God, and he has often been depicted by the press as a man of religion, especially in the United States, something that Cavalera himself says he does not understand:

I do hate a lot of "religion", but people like Christ – yeah they inspire me. I mean if you look at Christ, He was hanging around with the lowlifes, prostitutes and the losers you know, not going around with those high society motherfuckers you see trying to sell Jesus today![3]

When asked in an interview whether he was a Christian and whether Soulfly was a Christian band, he said:

No. I mean, if I was a Christian I would wear all these different kinds of omens. Because Christian people are so close-minded. A priest would not accept that. So I don't like the concept of Christianity in terms of being so close-minded. It is the same with music. Sometimes I compare preachers to close-minded musicians or close-minded listeners, who only like one kind of music. Some preachers are the same. And they don't tolerate Hindus, Buddhists or whatever. Only them. It's bullshit. So Soulfly is not a Christian band at all. Very much opposite. But we are very spiritual. Spiritual has nothing to do with Christianity anyway. It has been here since the beginning of time.[4]

In another interview, he was asked about the Varg Vikernes church burnings. He quoted, "I support church burnings 100 percent, but why don't we just burn everything. Mosques, temples, all religious buildings."[5] However, he later claimed his views changed about the church burnings and called them "too violent". He has stated that he does believe in God, "But it might be different than the God the preacher preaches about."[citation needed]

Of enduring influence to his music, is the untimely death of his stepson, Dana Wells, who was killed in a car crash[6] after the release of Roots in 1996. The songs "Bleed", "First Commandment", "Pain", "Tree of Pain" and "Revengeance" are tributes to Wells, as well as Deftones' song "Headup", in which Cavalera featured and co-wrote. He reunited with his brother Igor, in their band Cavalera Conspiracy, and wrote and performed on Soulfly's Conquer, released in 2008.[7][8]

Cavalera appears in the 2009 video game Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned as himself on the ingame radio station LCHC.

In 2013, Cavalera released his autobiography, titled My Bloody Roots; his co-writer was the British author Joel McIver and the book's foreword was written by Dave Grohl.[9]

Guitar style[edit]

Cavalera in 1989

Cavalera is known for playing his six-string guitar with only four strings; with the B and high E (2nd and 1st) strings opted out. The inspiration struck when he broke both strings one day and he did not bother to replace them. A friend later commented that the guitar looked better without them, thus it became his trademark.[10][11] Cavalera used to play with three strings, but eventually started playing with four due to Andreas Kisser writing a Sepultura song that required another string.[12] He did return to using three temporarily with his project Nailbomb.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Since 1992, Cavalera has lived in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Gloria and his five children. Three of his sons are also active in music, with Richie fronting Incite and Igor and Zyon performing in Lody Kong. Jason tours as Zyon's drum tech, amongst other various duties behind the scenes. In 2012 and 2013, Zyon toured with Soulfly after David Kinkade's retirement, and now he is a regular member as drummer. Igor briefly filled in as bassist for Soulfly in 2015 after Tony Campos left the band, and toured as keyboardist and co-vocalist during Soulfly's Point Blank Tour.[14]

In 2022, Cavalera attracted criticism after a 2014 clip resurfaced of him telling a Moscow crowd that he supported the internationally unrecognised Russian annexation of Crimea.[15]

On July 5, 2023, Cavalera announced that his mother Vania had died.[16]

Cavalera is a fan of the Palmeiras and Detroit Lions.[17]


Cavalera with Cavalera Conspiracy at the Eurockéennes festival in France, 2008

Cavalera has collaborated with many different artists while in Sepultura and Soulfly. In 2003, he joined forces with former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters' frontman Dave Grohl to produce "Red War" for the self-titled release of Dave Grohl's metal project Probot.


Cavalera has worked with the following musicians:


Cavalera has collaborated with the following bands:

Cavalera appeared in The Mummy Returns in an off-camera role as the Scorpion King, providing the guttural screams for Dwayne Johnson.[19]

On July 15, 2022, Demon Hunter released their single "Defense Mechanism" featuring Cavalera.[20]


Cavalera Conspiracy
Killer Be Killed
Go Ahead and Die
  • Go Ahead and Die (2021)
  • Unhealthy Mechanisms (2023)


  1. ^ Larkin, Colin (May 27, 2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  2. ^ "Nailbomb's Point Blank: The explosive legacy of 90s metal's greatest supergroup". August 31, 2020.
  3. ^ "Soulfly : interview". Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  4. ^ [1] Archived April 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "SOULFLY on church burnings". Youtube. TV2 Norway (2009). Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  6. ^ Holthouse, David. "For Reasons Unknown". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  7. ^ Exclusive: Talking Music & Horror with Max Cavalera of SOULFLY Archived September 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "A Conversation with the Cavalera Conspiracy and Soulfly Vocalist". Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  9. ^ "MAX CAVALERA's Autobiography To Include Foreword By DAVE GROHL". BlabberMouth. Archived from the original on November 15, 2011.
  10. ^ "Max Cavalera (Soulfly) interview about his guitar style (pt.1 of 2)". YouTube. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  11. ^ Fox, Darrin. "Max Cavalera". Guitar Player. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  12. ^ "Max Cavalera & Andreas Kisser - Lix 'n' trix (German subtitles)". YouTube.
  13. ^ "Nailbomb - Interview and World of Shit live at the Dynamo Festival 1995". YouTube.
  14. ^ DiVita, Joe (November 10, 2017). "Max Cavalera Backs Universal Healthcare: 'Take Care of Your Own'". Loudwire.
  15. ^ Max Cavalera criticized by fans for supporting Russia Metal Addicts
  16. ^ "Max and Igor Cavalera mourn their 80 Year old Mother". Loudwire. July 6, 2023.
  17. ^ "A Roki, Al Capone, and Max!".
  18. ^ wookubus (July 15, 2022). "Demon Hunter Premiere "Defense Mechanism", Soulfly's Max Cavalera Guests". Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  19. ^ "Full Cast and Crew for The Mummy Returns". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
  20. ^ wookubus (July 15, 2022). "Demon Hunter Premiere "Defense Mechanism", Soulfly's Max Cavalera Guests". Retrieved July 15, 2022.

External links[edit]