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Marc Rizzo-Lead Guitar
The music on Soulfly's previous albums Soulfly, Primitive, and 3, is fluid, experimental, and unpredictable, and it embraces and seeks change. For its fourth album, the blood-boiling, self-produced Prophecy, Soulfly and its leader Max Cavalera, the metal legend/visionary who cut his teeth as founding guitarist/vocalist for the groundbreaking band Sepultura, decided to change gears yet again. Backed by a completely new cast of musicians, Prophecy represents a fresher, newer, revitalized Soulfly.
"I decided to do something different on this album," Cavalera admits, going as far as to claim that Prophecy is the most exciting sonic journey he's embarked on since his Sepultura days. "This is an approach that I've wanted to do for a while. I never wanted Soulfly to be a band like Metallica, with the same four guys. On every Soulfly album, we've changed the line up and it will probably continue that way. In order to do that, I had to start from the inside out and bring in people who caught my attention, that I had never played with before, and create this."
That's a risky, gutsy move for Cavalera and Soulfly, but the biggest risks reap the most satisfying rewards, and that's best evidenced by Prophecy. He recruited Mark Rizzo, formerly of Ill Nino, to play guitar, rejoined forces with drummer Joe Nunez, who played drums on Primitive, and split Prophecy's bass duties between former Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson and former Primer 55 bassist Bobby Burns. He chose Rizzo because of his range of ability, which veers from flamenco to heavy rock guitar. He chose Ellefson and Burns because he met them through his years on the road and respected their individual work/talent. While it might seem unusual to employ two people for one job as bassist on Prophecy, Cavalera insists that it gives the album distinct flavors. "The bass changes from song to song, and you can tell when it's Dave playing as opposed to Bobby, and that is what I wanted. Dave is old school Megadeth, which I love, and Bobby is new school. I like the old and the new together."
While Soulfly has always challenged their listeners' expectations, Prophecy also proved to be a challenge for Cavalera himself, who served not only as singer/guitarist, but also as the album's producer. "I am learning more in the studio and breaking down barriers. I don't want the same boring concepts. Who needs rules to make records? The best records are done without rules. If it comes from your heart, it'll be good."
Cavalera sees Prophecy - whose album title refers to the prophecy of change - which he recorded at the Salt Mine in Phoenix, as having two separate but equal halves. Cavalera has literally traveled the world to spice his past albums with world flavors. He has camped out at a castle in England. He has returned to his native Brazil. For Prophecy, he journeyed to Serbia to work with native musicians. He was inspired to do so after many trips to the country and experiencing the culture. "I spent a week in Serbia, and then experimented in the studio, and I'm happy with what came out of it. That's shaking the ground. Yes, the album has trademarks that the fans want. There are the hooks that people like to sing along to, more here than any other Soulfly album."
While Soulfly doesn't skimp on their classic bombast, the experimental and world music vibes assert themselves much more prominently on Prophecy. "When you get to 'I Believe,' the album takes a different shape. It's a very spiritual, and one of the heaviest songs. It's about the faith that I have and that the fans have. It's an open song that I wanted to write for a long time, with a talking part in the middle. It's my own confession that I have faith in God. It's just my belief. It leads into 'Moses,' which is the first exotic song on the album. I did it in Serbia with EYESBURN, a Serbian band. I've been called 'The Bob Marley Of Metal', so I wanted to do it right. It's seven minutes, it refers to the Bible and it's an epic song."
The fact that Cavalera went to a different country where he didn't speak the language lends an element of wonder to Prophecy, which was mixed by Terry Date (Deftones, Pantera, White Zombie), "It's got a legit dub style, with the basslines and horns, I never had a horn section on a record. But these are apocalyptic horns. Again, it's new." Cavalera also employed instruments from the Middle Ages and things like bagpipes made out of sheepskin while working with a Serbian professor of music. "They were the dirtiest instruments I have ever seen," Cavalera recalls. "Through the record, you hear them and get a world music feeling." There's even a guitar-less song recorded with Serbian gypsies and a song from World War II that you'd expect to unearth on a world music record.
Despite all the internal and sonic change, Soulfly has kept the tradition of including a self-titled song on the album. Since Prophecy is the fourth album, there's "Soulfly IV" on this album. It is toward the end of the record and it is a melodic track with a flamenco flourish. There is a cover of Helmet's "In the Meantime," which Cavalera was inspired to interpret because he loves the heavy riff and enjoyed touring with Helmet in the past.
Prophecy does break the rules, blending world music without compromising its brutality. As Max says, "Experimentation is the trademark of Soulfly. If I take that out, we would be just another good heavy band." Indeed, Soulfly is anything but just another heavy band. Cavalera respects his roots, yet branches out and experiments on Prophecy. Ferocious as a kick in the teeth, yet culturally stimulating, Prophecy is Soulfly's most daring, complete work to date.