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Soulfly's Max Cavalera says “soap opera” surrounding Marc Rizzo's exit fueled the “fire” and “anger” of new album Totem

[L-R] Max Cavalera and Marc Rizzo
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Soulfly’s Max Cavalera says the “soap opera” surrounding Marc Rizzo’s 2021 departure added to the “fire” and “anger” of the band’s just-released 12th album, Totem.

Speaking to Joshua Toomey of the Talk Toomey (opens in new tab) podcast, Cavalera details the creation of Soulfly’s first album without Rizzo since 2004’s Prophecy.

“Every time that happens it is an opportunity to do something different, bring in new blood,” he explains. “Especially with Soulfly, which has always had that sort of motto of changing people from time to time.”

Soulfly’s lineup has somewhat continuously shifted since the band’s inception. Notable past members include drummer Roy Mayorga – previously of Stone Sour and Hellyeah – and former Machine Head lead guitarist Logan Mader.

Cavalera continues: “I loved that the record was a bit of a struggle. Those are some of my best records, the ones that are not easy sailing. They’ve got drama in ‘em! Totem is full of drama! Like, the whole Rizzo thing was his own soap opera. It’s like, c’mon, man! ”

Since Rizzo’s departure, Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares has fulfilled lead guitar duties for Soulfly’s live shows.

“I saw this as an opportunity to do a couple of things,” Cavalera says. “Having Dino playing live was incredible, and we are still jamming with him right now.”

The frontman adds that he worked with Arthur Rizk and John Powers of Austin, Texas heavy metal outfit Eternal Champion on Totem. And Chris Ulsh of Power Trip and Innumerable Forms also contributed a guitar solo.

“They bring that old-school heavy metal vibe to the solos, and I love it,” he says. “I was totally on board with it. It sounded different, fresh and new... The stuff with Rizzo was always the same. A lot of his stuff was sounding the same, and this is new and different, and exciting. It felt fucking great when I was working on the songs, hearing the solos coming in. I am super proud of what we did.”

He continues: “So there was a bit of a struggle because of the whole Rizzo thing, and that's kind of worked in favor of the record, I think. ‘Cos you don’t wanna fuck with me, man. You don’t! You fuck with me? Yeah, there’s payback. I just kind of go in that fucking warrior mode and, y'know, get angry, pissed off and good shit comes out of it, musically talking. So, yeah, the record has that little bit of anger, that little bit of fire.”

Following his exit in August 2021, Marc Rizzo said he received “no support from Soulfly” throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“There were years that were good financially,” he told Pierre Gutiérrez of Rock Talks (opens in new tab), “but this year – again, there [were] no loans. There was no, ‘Hey, let's do a live video to make money for the band members or maybe let's do a special merch deal.’

“A lot of my friends [were] there doing special merchandise deals. I mean, if you look online, Soulfly didn't do anything for the band members or the crew. It's just not right to do that to people during a time like this.

“So, whatever, man. They have the right to run their business however they want to, and I have the right to do what I want to do.”

Soulfly’s new album, Totem (opens in new tab), is out now via Nuclear Blast.

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Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar (opens in new tab).