Return to Roots

Max and Iggor Cavalera rise again at Oddbody’s

By Gary Spencer

Photo: Iggor (left) and Max Cavalera resurrect Roots in Dayton Oct. 8

Just about every metalhead in the world knows who brothers Max and Iggor Cavalera are. Guitarist and drummer respectively, the duo formed one of the most popular and influential heavy metal bands of all time, Sepultura, in 1984. While Max and Iggor would leave Sepultura years later to create other popular metal outfits, such as Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy, none of these subsequent groups have held the sway and respect of the metal community the way their classic work with Sepultura has. And, it appears the Cavalera brothers are cognizant of this, as the they have reunited to tour together and perform one of Sepultura’s most recognizable albums, Roots, in its entirety to celebrate the record’s 20th anniversary.

The Cavalera brothers were born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in the late 1960s and early ’70s, at a time when heavy metal forefathers Black Sabbath were first taking the world by storm and spreading the disease of down-tuned guitars and sledgehammer riffs. Perhaps this timing is no accident, as the Cavaleras would soon gravitate to the harsh and heavy sounds of metal in their formative years and inspire them to play the musical style that they loved, based on the classics, despite the challenges of finding the music living in Brazil.

“I was like 13-years-old – I started learning some Black Sabbath and Deep Purple riffs,” Max Cavalera says. “Then I started listening to heavier stuff: Motorhead, Slayer, Venom, Hellhammer, etc. We couldn’t find the real albums, so we bought cassette tapes of the recordings of the albums.”

Not too long after that, the Cavaleras had a lightbulb moment that led to the formation of Sepultura.

“We saw a Brazilian band called Dorsal Atlantica – they were like the Brazilian Venom,” Max explains. “We loved it, so I turned to Iggor and said, ‘We can do it, too!’ I created Sepultura after that.”

The band went on to release a string of instant classic thrash/death metal LPs such as Beneath the Remains, Arise, Chaos AD, and Roots in the late ’80s through the mid-90s, and introduced to the subgenre a signature groove that most of their thrash contemporaries lacked or failed to replicate. However, at the height of the band’s popularity, Max abruptly quit the band amid some irreconcilable inner band issues. Ten years later, Iggor followed suit, making him the last original member of Sepultura to part ways with the band. Several years later, however, an incident occurred that led Max and Iggor to consider the idea of bringing the album Roots to life in a live setting.

“It was my wife and manager’s idea,” Max explains. “She saw me and Iggor playing the song ‘Roots’ together in London. The crowd went nuts, so she said, ‘You two guys should do the Return to Roots, and play the whole record.’ It was a great idea.”

Roots, released in 1996, is the group’s most commercially successful release, and perhaps the most musically challenging and groundbreaking album in the group’s storied catalog. For Roots, the band slowed down a bit from the breakneck rhythms of its simpler thrash metal days and incorporated elements of indigenous Brazilian music with layers of extra percussion. The album also boasted turntables, samples, and guest vocals, which may have inadvertently laid the groundwork for the “nu-metal” wave, which began to rise a few years later. Max never really got to tour with Sepultura to support Roots due to his departure from the group not long after the album’s release, so this tour with his brother playing the record from top to bottom is quite a big deal for long-time Sepultura fans, and the timing of the album’s anniversary couldn’t be better for this dream tour.

“This is the 20th anniversary of the album, and is also an amazing record that broke Sepultura through the whole world,” Max says. “We have the original Roots backdrop, and we are going to play some songs that have never been played live before like ‘Ambush,’ ‘Lookaway,’ and ‘Itsari’. To play all the classics 20 years later will be an amazing experience.”

And for those fans who’ve spent years praying for a full-fledged Sepultura reunion with its original founding members, Max pretty much tells those people not to get their hopes up – as the Cavalera brothers’ new band is better than the real thing, and they plan on proving it on this tour.

“This is the reunion, as far as I’m concerned,” Max says. “To me, Marc Rizzo is a better guitar player, and Johnny Chow kicks Paulo’s ass on bass, so this is better than a reunion. We are going to give 1,000 percent every night, no matter what, and it will be awesome. We love all the fans and this tour is for all of you.”

Max & Iggor Cavalera Return to Roots takes place Saturday, Oct. 8, at Oddbody’s Music Room, 5418 Burkhardt Rd. in Dayton. Combichrist, All Hail the Yeti, and Oni are also on the bill. Tickets are $25 in advance for patrons 18 and over. Shows start at 5:30 p.m., doors at 5. For more information, please visit

Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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