SOULFLY will release its twelfth album, “Totem”, on August 5 via Nuclear Blast. The follow-up to 2018’s “Ritual” was recorded at Platinum Underground in Mesa, Arizona by John Aquilino and Arthur Rizk with assistance from John Powers. Produced by frontman Max Cavalera alongside Arthur Rizk (KREATOR, MUNICIPAL WASTE, CODE ORANGE),the LP boasts guest appearances from John Powers (ETERNAL CHAMPION),Chris Ulsh (POWER TRIP),and John Tardy (OBITUARY). Rizk was also responsible for playing lead guitar on the record. The artwork for the album was created by James Bousema.
The official lyric video for the album’s first single, “Superstition”, created by Aimed & Framed alongside 3D character artist Álvar Gómez Padilla, can be seen below.
Max Cavalera comments: “‘Totem’ is a celebration of the spiritual nature. It was a two-year journey writing with [my son and SOULFLY drummer] Zyon. This album is about all the joy, the fun and the anger in metal.”
“Totem” track listing:
02. Scouring The Vile
03. Filth Upon Filth
04. Rot In Pain
05. The Damage Done
08. Ecstasy Of Gold
09. Soulfly XII
10. Spirit Animal
In a recent interview with the “Rez Metal” podcast, Max stated about “Totem”: “It was created a little bit different. The majority was just me and my son Zyon playing together, so we kind of wrote the bulk of the material. And then I had a great producer friend, Arthur Rizk; he worked with POWER TRIP and CODE ORANGE. Arthur is great, man. And I was curious how Arthur would make a SOULFLY record sound if he was in charge [of] it. And we created something that, to me, feels kind of like… It’s almost like a biography of Max music. We cover everything from the early days all the way… So there’s some black metal things, there’s some death and thrash, there’s some groove metal — there’s everything. So the record really goes deep into all different areas of metal. So because of that, the album feels very diverse. At the end of the day, I just wanted to make a solid, full-on attitude record that just says, ‘We’re here to fuck shit up.’ This is what we do. This is why I love playing metal, because of the energy it gives me.
“The record is actually really connected to nature, which is really cool,” Max explained. “I think this is the mostly SOULFLY record that is really about the whole mystique of nature, as in forest spirits and spirit animals and things like that. So that was cool.
“We worked a lot on a lot of the tracks. And I think Arthur did just an amazing job.
“I don’t wanna describe the record too much — I’d rather have people hear it and see what they think — but to me, it feels like this is just a really, really energetic SOULFLY record,” Cavalera added. “It’s kind of cool to have that kind of… After so many records, if you can still put an energetic record out, it says something about your career; you’re not slowing down — you’re going, actually, the opposite way. So I’m more in the trenches than ever with this one. It feels like [I’ve been] rejuvenated; I feel like a young kid again playing metal. Those are great elements to have. Especially when you’re getting older, a lot of people go more mild and slow down. I’m not one of those people. I wanna just get even more wild, get heavier. But always with the SOULFLY groove, ’cause I think that’s a key element of SOULFLY; it’s always been the groove. So we pay really close attention to the… We actually added a lot of percussion to it, so it kind of goes back to records like ‘Primitive’; some of the grooves go back to songs like ‘Primitive’ and ‘Boom’, but some of the other stuff is super aggressive and it’s like a lot of the current extreme metal that I listen to right now from a lot of other bands.”
SOULFLY performed “Superstition” and “Filth Upon Filth” on its recent U.S. tour.
Last summer, Cavalera told “The Metal Teddy Bear Experience” show, which airs on the 90.3 WMSC radio station, that “Filth Upon Filth” was “a killer song” which reminded him of “old SLAYER; it sounds like SLAYER ‘Hell Awaits’ era meets SOULFLY, which is always a good thing,” he said.
Asked if there is an overall lyrical theme on the new SOULFLY album, Max said: “Some of it [is] dealing with, actually, the spiritual world and things like that, which is really cool. I think it’s always been kind of a SOULFLY theme anyway. There’s a song called ‘Spirit Animal’ that’s really cool.
“[There isn’t gonna be] an overall theme,” he clarified. “It’s not gonna be a theme album like maybe [SEPULTURA‘s] ‘Roots’ was more like a tribal theme kind of record. This is more like a [mixture of subjects]. There’s a song about the environment and how we’re destroying the earth and all that, called ‘The Damage Done’. And that came out really good. So, yeah, [it’s] just my way of writing. It’s pretty simple. I don’t try to get fancy with it. I know what I do. It’s like my riffs — I know how to do them. I don’t try to fancy them up. That’s how they are — they’re simple but direct, and they work. And that’s what I love about it.”
In April 2021, Max told Chris Enriquez of Saint Vitus Presents: Age Of Quarantine that Rizk took the new SOULFLY project “super seriously. He said, ‘Hey, Max, I don’t wanna do just another SOULFLY record. I wanna do the bestSOULFLY record,'” he recalled. ‘I was, like, ‘All right. I take the challenge. Let’s do it, man.'”
As for the musical direction of the new SOULFLY material, Max said: “It’s full-on. I think it’s got kind of like the best of all the years. I think it’s a compilation Max Cavalera record of the whole 50 years. [Laughs] That’s what it feels like — it’s got old stuff, it’s got middle stuff, it’s got very SOULFLY vibes. It’s got a lot of groove. It’s got a lot of fast stuff.”
In December 2020, Max told the “Sappenin’ Podcast With Sean Smith” about the songwriting process for the new SOULFLY album: “The cool thing about Zyon, the way he plays drums, is he’s a bit like a wild animal — he has no restraint, man, and he just unleashes on the drum kit. Pure, pure brutality power drumming, and I love that. So that takes me back to a lot of the early records that I like — a lot of the old ENTOMBED stuff and CARCASS and NAPALM DEATH; out-of-control shit. So I think we have that kind of spirit going on on a lot of the new tracks.”
In August, SOULFLY parted ways with longtime guitarist Marc Rizzo due to personal differences. A permanent replacement guitarist has yet to be announced. FEAR FACTORY‘s Dino Cazares played guitar for SOULFLY on the summer 2021 U.S. tour and once again handled second-guitar duties on the band’s most recent run of shows.
In June 2020, SOULFLY released a new digital EP, “Live Ritual NYC MMXIX”. The effort was recorded at The Gramercy in New York City on February 11, 2019 while SOULFLY was on tour in support of its most recent full-length album, “Ritual”. The audio for the EP was mixed and mastered by Charles Elliott (ABYSMAL DAWN) from Tastemaker Audio. Cover artwork was comprised of live photos taken by Rodrigo Fredes.
“Ritual” was released in October 2018 via Nuclear Blast. The follow-up to 2015’s “Archangel” was produced, recorded and mixed by Josh Wilbur (KILLER BE KILLED, LAMB OF GOD, GOJIRA).