Max Cavalera and Soulfly and seemed to hit a bit of a rough patch following the back-to-back release of 2005’s outstanding Dark Ages (2005). None of the records released between then and now were particularly poor. Even the least of them, 2013’s Savages, was perfectly serviceable, and some (i.e. 2012’s Enslaved and 2008’s Conquer) even flirted with the band’s upper echelons. Yet there was a certain feeling that the band had fallen into a bit of a rut. Now, with Killer Be Killed (2014) and his recent return-to-form with Cavalera Conspiracy’s Psychosis (2017) under his belt, Max appears to be experiencing a late-career resurgence, and Ritual—his eleventh full-length release under the Soulfly banner—only continues that upward trajectory.
What does one do when the genre-defining band they’ve played in for years, disbands? Most will pack up their instruments and kit, settling into another grind altogether – regular, boring ass working life. Not Richard Hoak. During the final days of Brutal Truth’s existence, Hoak obviously decided he hadn’t had enough. The melting pot of blasts and wicked arrangements in his mind finding a new home in Total Fucking Destruction. Nearly twenty years after the first release under this name, we find ourselves in a time where grindcore is more important than ever. It’s always been political, but the platform is sometimes a bit wobbly. Not in this case. #USA4TFD is a viral musical statement that no one is sharing. Yet.
The early passing of artists tends to foster an interesting (and occasionally uncomfortable) combination of reactions, especially in the age of social media. On one hand you will see devoted fans writing their own eulogies, attempting to encapsulate what the artist meant within the prism of their own experiences. You will also unfortunately find your share of naysayers who can’t wait to seize the moment to impart their own self-fashioned wisdom about how overrated the artist in question was, or how superficial people are for mourning celebrities while so many others suffer in anonymity. I recall getting into a heated exchange with an erstwhile friend when he posted something on Facebook disparaging fans of Chris Cornell after the star’s passing, since it was of equal or greater importance to him that normal people die daily with no fanfare. There was a deeper context regarding addiction and the way we view addicts, but there’s no sense dredging that up. The point is that we ended up wrestling over a dead man’s grave, and while to this day I disagree with his sentiments, I could have also just let it go and still mourned a man whose work I had admired since childhood without feeling compelled to get into Facebook fights over it.
I may have bemoaned the decline of thrash in previous columns. If you have been keeping up with me, you would think that there’s really no such thing as modern thrash. “Huh, that’s too bad. It must’ve died in 1993 or something.” Well, sorta? It would be tough to find…