Soulfly stretches metal

Brazilian heavy metal god Max Cavalera's name has become synonymous with his band, Soulfly, and with good reason: He's been the only constant member since the outfit formed in 1997.

Cavalera's approach to building a band from scratch prior to recording each album probably wouldn't sit well with most musicians. The former frontman for Sepultura said he found it especially necessary prior to recording Soulfly's most recent work, Prophecy.

"The decision was (made) to bring new life to the music and the album, and also because Soulfly is quite different from other bands — every album has some change," Cavalera said. "I thought it was a good time to do it.

"I don't want to start repeating myself."

With Prophecy, Cavalera made certain Soulfly was in no danger of becoming a bore to its fans. Already known for incorporating tribal sounds into the band's full-throttle metal assaults, Cavalera added several surprises into the mix.

The album features irresistible reggae grooves and horns on "Moses," flamenco guitar runs courtesy of former Ill Nino guitarist Marc Rizzo — now part of Soulfly — an R&B vocal performance on album closer "Wings," and other non-typical metal elements.

Cavalera even went abroad, inspired by a previous tour to several Balan countries, in his quest to add new life to Soulfly. It was in Serbia that he recorded the seven-minute "Moses" with reggae-metal band Eyesburn and discovered instruments from the Middle Ages, like sheepskin bagpipes, while working with a Serbian professor of music.

"It was a very busy week that I spent there, but very cool,"

Cavalera said. "I think it brought a lot to the record."

The guttural singer/guitarist's hard work has paid off. Cavalera said fans have been responsive to the new band — Rizzo, drummer Joe Nunez and former Primer 55 bassist Bobby Burns —and people who have seen Soulfly since it began touring in March have been very open to the eclectic nature of the new material.

"Even the most different stuff they really dig it; they think it's cool," he said. "It's expected in a Soulfly record. It wouldn't work for somebody else, but for Soulfly it works. I'm growing together with my crowd. The more I grow, the more we grow together and I think that's the best part of it."

In addition to being Soulfly's most diverse album, Prophecy also includes the band's most spiritual work to date. Though it wouldn't seem like metal and religion belong anywhere near one another, Cavalera said tracks like "I Believe" show the two apparent opposites can coexist.

"I'm not preaching Christianity or anything like that," Cavalera said. "I'm just showing it's okay to be spiritual — the way I am. You don't have to let go of things you like, like heavy music, aggressive music, to be a spiritual person. You can be both things."

As far as being hailed a revolutionary in a genre that sees little change, Cavalera said he's still striving to reach a creative pinnacle.

"Although (Prophecy) is the most praised of all of them, for me it's still that I haven't reached that. I still feel hungry inside to make something more — something even more, experimental, more wild, even more strange than I've ever done. It's on an album yet to come."

Soulfly plays The Rave at the Eagles Club, 2401 W. Wisconsin Ave., Friday. The concert, which opens with Ill Nino, Crisis and Twelve Tribes, begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 342-RAVE or visit www.therave.com.