by SashaS

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Soulfly: 'Dark Ages', or not so...
Transcontinental experiMetal
Soulfly: five world cities inform the 5th album

Max Cavalera broadened our musical horizons with Sepultura’s infusion of ethnic sounds and has continued to do so with Soulfly. But nothing, so far, as on ‘Dark Ages’, an album that is huge on metal and even bigger on experimentation. Cavalera appears never to stop and continues to search for new tunes to introduce us to. This is a brilliant album you gotta - love!

“Well, it’s life,” Max explains what happened, “different times, different vibes going on, just a part of living… I’m trilled to have made a record like ‘Dark Ages’ because it embraces a lot of different things… It’s gonna be great to play it live, and I can’t wait to start touring it.”

Different tragedies, different agonies, different inspirations.

“While making the record I experienced some personal tragedies: I lost my grandson Moses and then [longtime friend] Dimebag [Darrell]… Those were the personal tragedies and the [album] title refers to my personal dark ages… I saw it as a clash between nature and humanity, the extremes that I embrace.”

The extremes that are emphasised by spaces, quieter moments that make the heavy parts even more impressive and tantalising. He also travelled to five countries - Serbia, Turkey, Russia, France and the US to enhance the sound of the record.

“It wasn’t intentional, it just happened and I realised that I was looking for melodic in the heaviness. It also allowed me to use some unusual recording techniques and chose some of these places because they were so different and inspirational: I went to Constantinople [i.e. Istanbul] that was the centre of Christianity one thousand years ago and I found it to be really exotic. It was that historical country, I wanted to add some flavour of that part of the world to add some flavour to this album… Inside the ancient temple Haggia Sophia, I recorded tinny metal echoes serving as the outro to the speedball-infused ‘Bleak’; it’s actually people working, they're banging metal on metal.”

Then Russia for a track that features S.O.D.’s Billy Milano.

“Yeah, the frantic ‘Molotov’ began with Russian lyrics. In Russian it means 'Fuck the war, let's think about what's important'... It comes from the liberation of Russia after communism. Then I called Milano to make a guest appearance on the song; I asked him, ‘Do you mind singing over the phone and I just record it?’ Even the distortion in his voice came actually from the phone.”

‘Stay Strong’ features you son Richie on vocal.

“And I‘m very proud of what he did on the record. He did a great job and I‘m very proud of him because he sings his own lyrics and he's really singing his heart out for Moses and for his brother Dana. Then, in France, I had Brazilian French musician Stephan help me close the record with the peaceful and evocative ‘Soulfly V’. I added the real sounds of rain and thunder to flavour the song, to end peacefully... I felt it was an appropriate ending after going through the bad and the good and the rough, but in the end into this spiritual cleansing... it's kind of like the calm after the storm.”

“I brought all these elements together and mixed them up, made them more interesting. I didn’t want it all heavy all the time. There are too many bands doing just one thing and never anything else, and it may be okay for them, but for me it is not enough. I need variety, I need to utilise different things and see what happens, what comes out. It is a very interesting record and I greatly enjoyed doing it. Actually, the whole concept of ‘Dark Ages’ make a good vibe, a great concept to work on.”

“This record releases inner, spiritual feelings, as well as some heavy energy. I think that’s what makes for its great balance; if ‘Dark Ages’ was all dark and all negative, it would be what everybody expects it but it has a different vibe which will surprise a lot of people. I hope they like it because it is more exotic, more challenging to the imagination. Still, I feel my fans will find it easier to understand this record because it challenges them less than, let’s say, ‘Prophecy’. It was more experimental and this is more accessible. ‘Dark Ages’ is 80 percent direct, pure Max, strong choruses, powerful riffs… I feel the reaction will be like what they want to hear although there are still some surprises…”

Apart from being busy on this disc, Robb Flynn (of Machine Head), who captained one of the ‘teams’ for the ‘Roadrunner United - The All-Star Sessions’ to mark the label’s 25th Anniversary [released the 10 inst], invited you for a track?

“That was easy. He sent me the music, I wrote the lyrics and recorded it in my home studio and send it back to him. I feel ‘Independent (Voice of The Voiceless)’ turned out to be rather a good track.”

Some weeks after the interview we find a surprising quote from Max Cavalera from an interview for The Really Loud Guitar Show:

"[I'm] looking forward to one day actually, eventually touring together [with Sepultura], or just doing some shows together. I was on tour with Sabbath [a few] months ago in Europe. They hated each other at one point, and now they're playing together. And that was, for me, very cool, very kind of like, ‘Yeah, there is a chance here, it's not all over.’ So maybe it will happen. I don't know. I'm not thinking about that. I've got Soulfly really in full motion right now with the new record and everything. But eventually if that happens, it will be cool for me, it will be cool for thousands of fans, so, you know, let's see what happens, you know what I'm saying?!"

Soul fly’s album ‘Dark Ages’ is released 03 October 2005 by Roadrunner