MAX CAVALERA Doesn't Think SEPULTURA's 'Roots' Is A 'Nu Metal' Album: 'In Fact, I Think It's The Opposite'
July 29, 2022
In a new interview with Pamela Calderón of Chile's iRock, former SEPULTURA frontman Max Cavalera reflected on the group's groundbreaking 1996 album "Roots", on which he and his bandmates collaborated with the Brazilian Xavante tribe. Asked about the criticism from some of the SEPULTURA fans that the LP was "not metal enough," Max said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I don't think they gave the record a real chance. To me, 'Roots' is a very heavy record. I think some of the stuff like 'Straighthate', 'Spit', 'Ambush' and 'Endangered Species' was so frickin' heavy and it's fast and it's brutal. I think it's because it got tagged… It got really popular; it got trendy. Some people connected it with 'nu metal'. I don't think 'Roots' is a 'nu metal' record. In fact, I think it's very opposite — it's really kind of more caveman. It's simpler — downtuning but simpler riffs. Very heavy percussion."
He continued: "On its own, in its essence, to me, it's a special record for sure. I won't say it's my favorite 'cause that's like choosing your kids; it's not right. I don't wanna choose between SEPULTURA records; I like all. But to me, 'Roots' feels like… It's an idea. It was born at the right time. And it was just a crazy idea that I had in my mind, to record with Brazilian indians and to bring that to metal. And I think that was very ambitious and very courageous. 'Cause not many people do that with their career; not many people gamble everything and make a record with crazy ideas like that. 'Cause so much can go wrong. A lot of bands like to play it safe: 'We just make this record for the fans, and we're good.' And we're just not that kind of band. We like to push the envelope. We like to go forward. And we always never really tried to make the same record. To me, it was an exciting record."
Cavalera added: "I was heavily very passionate about the idea of the record — going to the tribe; using all the tribal elements, the percussion. The 'Brazilianity' of the record is incredible. And the record to me sounds amazing. The mix that Andy Wallace did is really, really great. The videos were really cool. The 'Attitude' video with the Gracies; the 'Roots Bloody Roots' video in Salvador; the 'Ratamahatta' [clip] with the dolls. Yeah, it was a phase in our life. It ended up being kind of crazy because it was the end of my run with SEPULTURA. But I'm proud of this record. And it's a big record. Many famous people like this record a lot, like Dave Grohl, and so many people like that. The SLIPKNOT guys, they love 'Roots'.
"I understand some of the old-school metalheads; they just want 'Arise'. They want me to play 'Arise' for my whole life — just keep doing 'Arise', 'Arise', 'Arise' all the time," Max said. "['Arise' and 'Beneath The Remains'] are great, but there's different stuff you can do. 'Chaos A.D.' is great. 'Roots' is great. I wouldn't change it for anything. It was the record we wanted to make at that time. And I think now that I'm actually practicing to play it live [for an upcoming tour], I understand 'Roots' more now than before. And I think it's a very complex record; it's a very strange record that's very unorthodox and very cool to listen to. If you listen to the whole record, it has some very different dynamics that's really, really great."
"Roots", along with 1993's "Chaos A.D.", is considered SEPULTURA's most commercially successful release, having been certified gold in 2005 by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) for U.S. shipments in excess of 500,000 copies.
In a 2016 interview with Metal Hammer, KORN singer Jonathan Davis said that he felt "Roots" borrowed heavily from his own band. He said: "I thought [it] was a big compliment, but I also thought it] was fucked up. That was just a blatant KORN rip-off, and I had it out with producer Ross Robinson about that, because he just took our sound and gave it to SEPULTURA. My young brain couldn't handle it. But they were one of our biggest influences, so I guess they get a pass. And that's a classic album, so it's all good."
Later that same year, Max told the "Démentièllement Vôtre" show on Québec City's CKRL 89.1 FM radio station that he disagreed with Davis's assessment of "Roots". "I don't see it like that," he said. "I think especially the sound of KORN, in my opinion, with the bass, is horrible. We didn't have that; we had a lot of low end and things that the KORN album didn't have. So I don't see why he would be pissed off, because I don't see that much of a [similarity] between the two of them. Plus, KORN wasn't the only reason we wanted to work with Ross. He had done a FEAR FACTORY demo that I really liked and had a really raw sound. And he had done a DEFTONES song on the 'Adrenaline' album that I really liked."
He continued: "Saying that is like saying SEPULTURA should be pissed off at CANNIBAL CORPSE because they used [producer] Scott Burns. I'm not pissed off at CANNIBAL CORPSE; I think they're great. 'Cause we were one of the first that used Scott Burns, we should be mad at all the bands that use Scott Burns? That's childish. So he's just really being childish. And I really don't give a shit about KORN or anybody.
"We [were] very different from [KORN]; we have own way of playing and the songs are different. Everything is different. It's just the same guy that recorded [both albums]; that's the only similarity."
Davis was featured as a guest on the "Roots" track "Lookaway" — along with Mike Patton of FAITH NO MORE.
In 1996, Max exited SEPULTURA after the rest of the band split with his wife Gloria as their manager.