Massimiliano Antonio "Max" Cavalera (Portuguese pronunciation: [masimiliˈɐnu ɐ̃ˈtonju kɐvɐˈleɾɐ], born August 4, 1969) is a Brazillian singer, guitarist, and songwriter who currently plays in heavy metal bands Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, and Killer Be Killed. In 1984, he co-founded the acclaimed heavy metal band Sepultura with his brother Igor Cavalera and played as the band's lead singer and rhythm guitarist until he left in 1996. Cavalera was also involved in a short-lived side project called Nailbomb.

Life And Career

His father, Graziano Cavalera, was an employee of the Italian Consulate in São Paulo and died at 40 years of age and is buried in Belo Horizonte; Max was nine when his father died. Max's family was in a state of financial crisis and family turbulence when he formed Sepultura with his younger brother Igor.

In the early 1990s he relocated to Phoenix, Arizona. He did not begin to make spiritual-music until after he quit Sepultura. His earlier lyrics for Soulfly were influenced by religion and spirituality, though he is critical of religion. His later albums, starting with Dark Ages, began to incorporate lyrical themes of violence, warfare, anger and hatred. His albums have all been dedicated to God, and he has often been depicted by the press as a man of religion, especially in the United States, something that Cavalera himself says he does not understand:

When asked in an interview whether he was a Christian and whether Soulfly was a Christian band, he said:

In another interview he was asked about the Varg Vikernes church burnings. He quoted, "I support church burnings 100 percent, but why don't we just burn everything. Mosques, temples, all religious buildings." However he later claimed his views changed about the church burnings and called them "too violent." He has stated that he does believe in God, "But it might be different than the God the preacher preaches about."

Of enduring influence to his music is the untimely death of his stepson Dana Wells, who was killed after the release of Roots in 1996. The songs "Bleed", "First Commandment", "Pain", "Tree of Pain" and "Revengeance" are tributes to Wells, as well as Deftones' song "Headup", in which Cavalera featured and co-wrote. He reunited with his brother Igor, in their band Cavalera Conspiracy, and wrote and performed on Soulfl's Conquer, released in 2008. In November 2011, Cavalera announced that he is working on an autobiography, for publication in 2013: his co-writer is the British author Joel McIver and the book's foreword has been written by Dave Grohl. During an interview with Metal Shock Finland, Andreas Kisser described Max's autobiography as science fiction.


Cavalera, a dedicated football fan who supports Brazilian football club Palmeiras, still lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Gloria and his 5 children, Zyon, Igor, Richie, Jason,and Roxanne—Richie, the eldest, was adopted by Max. Zyon, Igor and Richie have all collaborated with Max in his various projects, particularly Richie, who has contributed vocals to albums by Cavalera Conspiracy and Soulfly, and played occasional guitar on Nailbomb's live album Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide, credited as Richie Bujinowski. The 3 sons are also active in music, with Richie fronting Incite and Igor and Zyon performing in Lody Kong. In 2012 and 2013 Zyon toured with Soulfly after David Kinkade's retirement.


With Sepultura, Cavalera played a B.C. Rich Warlock, and now plays a custom ESP 6 String signature guitar. Designed to his specifications and based on the Viper design, the guitar features a Seymour Duncan SH6 Distortion pickup. A budget version (with a stock pickup) is sold under the LTD moniker. Another signature guitar produced by ESP, based on the AX model, is white with a Soulfly logo inlays. He also used a series of Gibson SG guitars during his later years in Sepultura and on the first two Soulfly albums and the tours that supported them. For 2011, ESP did a new signature model for Max, called the Max Cavalera EX, which consists in a single Seymour Duncan distortion and Soulfly logo inlays. He plays through a Peavey 3120, and also used Peavey 6505.

Cavalera's own guitar is only strung with four strings, as he has claimed that he never used the highest two strings. Besides the guitar, he also plays a berimbau, a Brazilian one-string instrument (cordophone family), a sitar and sometimes percussion on stage and studio recordings.


Cavalera has collaborated with many different artists while in Sepultura and Soulfly. In 2003 he joined forces with former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters' frontman Dave Grohl to produce "Red War" for the self-titled release of Dave Grohl's metal project, Probot.


Cavalera has worked with the following musicians:

Cavalera appeared in The Scorpion King in an off-camera role, providing the guttural screams for Dwayne Johnson. He also appears in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned as a DJ for the radio channel LCHC.

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