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.
Speaking to Joshua Toomey of the “Talk Toomey” podcast about what it was like to make a SOULFLY album without guitarist Marc Rizzo, who was in the band for 17 years before exiting the group in August 2021 due to personal differences, Max said (as transcribed by SOUNDERGROUND.NET): “Whenever [anything] like that happens, it’s an opportunity to do something different, bring in new blood. Especially [with] SOULFLY, there’s always been that kind of motto of changing people from time to time.
“I love that the record had a little bit of struggle related [to it]. Those are some of my best records — the ones that are not easy sailing; they’ve got drama in it,” he continued. “And ‘Totem’ is full of drama. The whole Rizzo thing was its own soap opera. It’s, like, c’mon, man.
“So I saw this as an opportunity to do a couple of things. And we took the opportunity, as much as we could, by having Dino [Cazares, FEAR FACTORY guitarist] playing live [with SOULFLY],” he explained. “It was incredible. We’re still jamming with him right now. And then on the record itself, I had the opportunity to work with the ETERNAL CHAMPION guys, which I’m a big fan. And they kind bring that old-school heavy metal vibe to the solos — Arthur [Rizk] and John Powers. And I love it; I was totally on board with it. It sounded different, fresh and new and exciting. The stuff with Rizzo kind of was always the same — a lot of the stuff was sounding a lot the same — and this is new and different and exciting. And I felt fucking great when I was working on the songs and I would hear the solos coming in, and it was different and exciting. We just did whatever we could for the record.
“So there was a bit of a struggle because of the whole Rizzo thing, and that’s kind of worked in the favor of the record, I think,” Max added. “‘Cause 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 get angry and pissed off and good shit comes out of it, musically talking. So the record has that little bit of anger, a little bit of fire.”
Rizzo addressed his split with SOULFLY in a 2021 interview with Aftershocks TV. He said: “I haven’t been happy in SOULFLY for a long time. The fans know what’s up, man. It’s all over the message boards.
“I always had a lot of love and respect for Max, but these last couple of years have just been very difficult. It’s no secret that he’s not really playing guitar up there on stage, at least to the level that he should be. The fans are talking about this. They’ve been talking about this stuff for years. It’s all over the message boards, how people just aren’t happy. And I also was not happy, as a fan and also playing in the band. So it was a long time coming. And then this whole COVID situation, the lack of support this year, it really just opened up my eyes that, ‘You know, man, now is the time.’ It’s just not worth my time anymore. I’m not getting out what I’m putting in. And, again, it’s all documented. You go on YouTube and you pull up any video, you can see it right there with your own two eyes.
“Whatever Max is saying in the press, listen, he can say whatever he wants to,” Marc continued. “He’s been doing that kind of stuff for years — against [his former bandmates in] SEPULTURA and old members [of SOULFLY]. And the fans know who I am. I hang out with all the fans. I’m very, very accessible after all my shows. No big deal. It’s water under the bridge for me.”
Asked if it was going to be difficult for him financially to rely completely on his solo projects in order to get by going forward, Rizzo said: “I’ve been doing my solo project since 2005 [or] 2006, and that’s what got me by in between all the SOULFLY and CAVALERA CONSPIRACY tours. I was never on a retainer — SOULFLY never did retainers, which is kind of an industry standard for bigger bands. There was never a retainer, so for me, it was never an option to get a retainer. So I went out and just started doing my solo gigs, and that’s how I got by all these years when SOULFLY would decide to just randomly say, ‘Hey, we’re taking seven months off,’ and you wouldn’t get any notice. That would happen all the time. And so then I would go out and book my solo stuff. It would be on a smaller level, but I still was able to get by and do my thing. Which I’m very grateful — I’m very grateful to the fans that they’ve always supported me and came out to my solo gigs. It’s obviously not as big as the concerts that I’ve played with SOULFLY, but I’m fine with playing in front of, like, 20 people at a small bar… But I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that this last year during COVID that the band I was in for 18 years was supportive, ’cause it’s not true. It’s just facts. There’s a lot of things that are leaking now online that showcase that. It is what it is, man. But I plan on just moving ahead and staying positive and try to keep it all positive for me.”
Rizzo joined SOULFLY in 2004, and has since appeared on all of the band’s subsequent records, including “Prophecy” (2004),“Dark Ages” (2005),“Conquer” (2008),“Omen” (2010),“Enslaved” (2012),“Savages” (2013),“Archangel” (2015) and “Ritual” (2018). In 2007, Rizzo became a member of CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, the side project of SEPULTURA co-founders, brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, and has performed on all CAVALERA CONSPIRACY releases including “Inflikted”, “Blunt Force Trauma”, “Pandemonium” and the critically acclaimed 2017 LP “Psychosis”.
Rizzo was originally a member of New Jersey Latin metal favorites ILL NIÑO, appearing on their classic 2001 Roadrunner release “Revolution Revolucion” and the 2003 follow-up “Confession”. He has since rejoined ILL NIÑO.