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 52)[1]
Belo Horizonte, 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 vocalist and guitarist who currently plays in heavy metal bands Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, and Killer Be Killed. In 1984, he co-founded the death metal/thrash metal band Sepultura with his brother Igor Cavalera and was the band's lead singer and rhythm guitarist until 1996. Cavalera was also involved in a short-lived side project called Nailbomb.[2]

Early life and career[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 early 1990s, 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 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.[6][7]

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.[8]

Guitar style[edit]

Cavalera in 1989

Cavalera is known for playing his guitar with only four strings; with the B and high E 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.[9][10]

Personal life[edit]

Since 1992, Cavalera has lived in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Gloria (b. 1953) and his five children: Igor Amadeus (b. 1995), Zyon (b. 1993), Jason (b. 1986), Richie (b. 1985), and Roxanne (b. 1983). The three eldest, Gloria's children, were adopted by Cavalera, making Cavalera their legal father. Zyon, Igor, and Richie have all collaborated with Cavalera in his various projects. 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. Igor was born with type 1 diabetes, and Max and Gloria set up the "Iggy Fund" in 1998 to help other families get necessary medicine for their children with juvenile diabetes.[11]


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 Scorpion King in an off-camera role, providing the guttural screams for Dwayne Johnson.[12]


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


  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. ^ Exclusive: Talking Music & Horror with Max Cavalera of SOULFLY Archived September 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "A Conversation with the Cavalera Conspiracy and Soulfly Vocalist". Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  8. ^ "MAX CAVALERA's Autobiography To Include Foreword By DAVE GROHL". BlabberMouth. Archived from the original on November 15, 2011.
  9. ^ "Max Cavalera (Soulfly) interview about his guitar style (pt.1 of 2)". YouTube. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  10. ^ Fox, Darrin. "Max Cavalera". Guitar Player. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  11. ^ DiVita, Joe. "Max Cavalera Backs Universal Healthcare: 'Take Care of Your Own'". Loudwire.
  12. ^ "Full Cast and Crew for The Mummy Returns". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 7, 2009.

External links[edit]