Soulfly finally announce new guitarist to replace Marc Rizzo – for the next 9 weeks

Max Cavalera and Mike DeLeon
(Image credit: Medios y Media / Scott Dudelson via Getty Images)

Almost two years ago, heavy metal outfit Soulfly announced they would be parting ways with guitarist Marc Rizzo “due to personal reasons”, and ever since fans have been waiting for a permanent replacement to fill his shoes.

At the time, Soulfly temporarily hired Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares to fill Rizzo’s spot for a string of US tour dates, though an official appointment was never announced.

Now, 17 months after Rizzo’s departure, Soulfly’s Max Cavalera has seemingly confirmed the band will no longer have a permanent guitarist, and will instead call upon a rotating cast of electric guitar stars.

The newest member of the Soulfly live lineup, Mike DeLeon, recently announced on social media he would be joining the fold, and though people initially thought he was Rizzo’s official replacement, it was later confirmed his appointment would only last nine weeks.

DeLeon, whose previous playing credits include Incite and Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, wrote,“It's official, I'll be jamming the axe for the one and only.. the Mighty Soulfly!

“It’s a total honor to be playing with Max and tribe,” he continued. “Rehearsals have been great and full of Metal! Check the Soulfly dates, spread the word and we will see you all very soon.”

In a follow-up video message, Cavalera clarified that DeLeon would only join Soulfly for the band’s upcoming tour, and that more “killer guitar players” will be recruited to fill the six-string spot further down the line.

“I want to thank Phil Anselmo for letting us borrow [Mike DeLeon],” he said. “Just like we did with Dino Cazares, Mike is going to join the tour for nine weeks, and we’re going to keep introducing killer guitar player to the Soulfly tribe.”

The appointment marks the latest in a number of personnel shifts for the four-piece, with DeLeon joining the fold alongside father/son Max and Zyon Cavalera, and bassist Mike Leon.

DeLeon will see live action for the first time with Soulfly on January 25, with the band set to kick off their upcoming tour at The Rock in Tucson, Arizona. The band’s headlining tour will run into April 1, with Sick New World and Tons of Rock festival dates for May and June also in the calendar.

His predecessor, Rizzo, parted ways with Soulfly after 18 years of service, having featured on eight studio albums after originally joining the band from Ill Niño in October 2003.

After Cavalera had announced Rizzo’s departure, the guitarist claimed in an interview he “got no support from Soulfly” throughout the pandemic, and that he “never saw a dime” of the band’s latest live record, Live Ritual NYC MMXIX.

“I was doing home renovations, working very hard, 10 hours a day,” he explained. “A Soulfly live record came out. I never saw a dime of that. So basically, within the [first] six [or] seven months of Covid, I just said, ‘You know, man, I don't want this anymore. I gave you guys 18 years of my life.’”

12 months after the split, Cavalera reflected on how the band’s “soap opera” drama had influenced the “fire” and “anger” of Soulfly’s latest studio album, Totem, which arrived last August.

Speaking to Joshua Toomey, Cavalera explained, “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! 

“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,” he continued. “‘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.”

After splitting with Soufly, Rizzo rejoined Ill Niño, and played on the band’s latest record, IllMortals.

For a full list of upcoming tour dates, head over to Soulfly’s website.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.