Sepultura (Portuguese for "tomb" or "grave") is a Brazilian heavy metal band from Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, formed in 1984. The band was a major force in the death metal and thrash metal realms during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and their later experiments melding hardcore punk and industrial music with extreme metal provided a blueprint for the groove metal genre.
Sepultura have released eleven studio albums so far, the latest being A-Lex (2009). Their most successful records are Arise (1991), Chaos A.D. (1993), and Roots (1996), each of them having surpassed the one million mark worldwide. Sepultura has sold over 15 million units worldwide, gaining multiple gold and platinum records across the globe, including in countries as diverse as France, Australia, Indonesia, United States, Cyprus, and their native Brazil.
Formation and Morbid Visions (1984?1986)
Sepultura was formed in 1984 at Belo Horizonte, the capital city of Minas Gerais, Brazil. At the core of the band were brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, the impoverished sons of model V?nia and Graciliano, a well-to-do Italian diplomat whose fatal heart attack left his family in financial dire straits. Graciliano's death deeply affected his sons, providing them the impetus to start a band. They chose "Sepultura" as the group's name after Max Cavalera was translating the lyrics of the Mot?rhead song "Dancing on Your Grave".
The brothers' early likes included popular heavy rock artists of the early 1980s, such as Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Mot?rhead, AC/DC, Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne. Their listening habits changed dramatically after being introduced to Venom. As Igor Cavalera put it,
I remember the first time I listened to Venom, it was on a friend's borrowed tape. It was similar to Mot?rhead, only a lot heavier. I remember someone saying: it's the devil's Mot?rhead! After we got acquainted with Venom, we stopped listening to Iron Maiden and all that lighter stuff.
From then on the Cavaleras rapidly started listening to bands such as Kreator, Sodom, Metallica, Exodus and Exciter.
After constant band member changes, Sepultura established a temporary line-up of Max on electric guitar, Igor on drums, vocalist Wagner Lamounier, and bassist Paulo Jr.. Lamounier exited the band in March 1985 after disagreements with the band, and moved on to become the frontman of the Brazilian black metal pioneering band Sarc?fago. After his departure, Max took over the vocal duties. Jairo Guedes was the invited to join the band as their lead guitarist.
After about a year of performing, Sepultura signed to Cogumelo Records in 1985. Later that year, they released Bestial Devastation, a shared EP with fellow Brazilian band Overdose. In 1986, the band released their debut full-length album, Morbid Visions, which is widely considered as one of the first pure death metal albums. It was initially released in the United States on New Renaissance Records, a record label owned by Ann Boleyn.
New Renaissance Records was heavily criticized by the media for signing and promoting Sepultura. However, their song "Troops of Doom" gained them higher airplay.
Schizophrenia, Beneath the Remains and Arise (1987?1992)
In early 1987, Jairo Guedes quit the band; Sepultura's lead guitarist had by then lost interest in playing death metal. Immediately after leaving Sepultura, Guedes formed Hanky Panky, a "cock rock" group in the vein of Ratt and M?tley Cr?e. Guedes later on joined brazillian thrash stahlwarts The Mist, Overdose and Eminence. Jairo was replaced by S?o Paulo-based guitarist Andreas Kisser.
The band's second studio album, Schizophrenia, was released in 1987. It saw a stylisitc change towards a more thrash metal-oriented sound, while still keeping the death metal elements of Morbid Visions. The album was a critical success, which led them to being signed to Roadrunner Records. With Roadrunner distributing Schizophrenia worldwide, Sepultura reached new and more numerous audiences of metal fans.
This stylistic change and critical success was cemented by the band's third studio album, Beneath the Remains, which was released in 1989. It was followed by a long European and American tour. Their first US show was held on October 31, 1989 at the Ritz in New York City, opening for Danish heavy metal band King Diamond. It is hailed by Terrorizer magazine as one of the all-time top 20 thrash metal albums, as well as a gaining a place in their all-time top 40 death metal records. Curiously, in spite their success at the time, the band members were still very limited english speakers.
Sepultura moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1990, and began recording material for their fourth studio album, Arise. By the time it was released in 1991, the band become one of the most critically-praised thrash/death metal bands of the time, in spite of a lack of mainstream success. The album was also their first to chart on the Billboard 200, reaching #119.
Chaos A.D. and Roots (1993?1997)
Sepultura's fifth album, Chaos A.D., was released in 1993. It saw a departure from their death/thrash metal style, mixing it with industrial and hardcore punk elements. The album helped usher the groove metal genre, and saw the band achieve recognition beyond the thrash metal community.
In 1994, Max and Igor, aided by Alex Newport of Fudge Tunnel, released an even more industrial-oriented album, Point Blank, in 1994 under the name Nailbomb. Nailbomb performed only one full live gig, and the performance was released as Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide. The band also played selected tracks live on Sepultura's 1994 tour with Fudge Tunnel as guests.
Sepultura's death/thrash departure continued with their sixth album, Roots, which was released in 1996. The band further innovated by experimenting with elements of the music of Brazil's indigenous peoples, with a slower, downtuned metal sound.
Later that year, the band played on the Donnington main stage alongside Ozzy Osbourne, Paradise Lost, Type O Negative, Biohazard, and Fear Factory. However, at the height of Sepultura's fame, a series of events broke the band apart. Just after the release of Roots, Sepultura decided to fire their manager, Gloria, Max Cavalera's wife.
Break-up with Max Cavalera
Even today, the confirmed reasons behind Sepultura's infamous separation with Max Cavalera remain unknown However, it is widely believed that internal tensions within the band caused the split. These occurred throughout the latter half of 1996, and at the end of a successful tour of Britain, at Brixton Academy on December 16, 1996, the band were rumoured to have told Max that they would not renew Gloria's management contract. He then left the band, and subsequently formed a new one, Soulfly. The other members announced that they would continue under the Sepultura name and were searching for a replacement.
Against, Nation and Roorback (1998?2005)
Sepultura chose Derrick Green from Cleveland, Ohio to fill in as their frontman and vocalist. With the new line up, the band recorded their seventh album, Against, which was released in 1998. The album was commercially less successful than its two predecessors. Aided by Max's departure, the band saw a further change in their thrash metal elements.
The band's eighth album, Nation, released in 2001, sold poorly. It would be their last studio album released through Roadrunner Records. In an interview, Derrick Green said about the album, "Every song will be related to the idea of building this nation. We will have our own flags, our own anthem."
A recording of Max's last live show with the band, Under A Pale Grey Sky, was later released in 2002 by their former record label, against the wishes of the band.
After recording Revolusongs, an EP of covers in 2002, the band released their ninth studio album, Roorback, in 2003. Despite having greater critical acclaim than its predecessors, sales remained low. It was their first album released through SPV Records. Allmusic said about the album, "if there are still any lingering doubts about the Green/Sepultura match, 2003's excellent Roorback should put them to rest for good. Green is passionate and focused throughout the album ? he has no problem going that extra mile ? and the writing is consistently strong."
In 2005, the band played in Dubai for the annual Dubai Desert Rock Festival.
In November of that year, a live Double-DVD and Double-CD, Live in S?o Paulo, was released. This was the first official live album from the band. The release of the album marked the first involvement of the new "Sepularmy" street team. The Sepularmy is an unofficial fan club, and its members are motivated by the desire to share the band's music and message around the world.
Dante XXI and A-Lex (2006 onward)
Sepultura's tenth album, Dante XXI, was released on March 14, 2006. It is a concept album based around Dante's The Divine Comedy. Music videos for the songs "Convicted in Life" and "Ostia" were released, following on from the album's concept.
In a recent interview in Revolver Magazine, Max Cavalera stated that Igor and himself would reunite with the original lineup. There were also rumors that the new line up would play on the main stage at Ozzfest 2007. However, this was denied by Kisser and the proposed reunion did not occur. Instead, 2006 saw Igor Cavalera's departure.
Sepultura released A-Lex on 26 January 2009, being the first album without any Cavalera member. It is a new concept album based on the book A Clockwork Orange. The album was recorded at Trama Studios in S?o Paulo, Brazil, with producer Stanley Soares. Allmusic said about the album, "Personnel changes can have a very negative effect on a band, but Sepultura have maintained their vitality all these years ? and that vitality is alive and well on the superb A-Lex."
The band was one of the featured musical guests at the Latin Grammy Awards of 2008 on November 13. They performed a cover of "The Girl from Ipanema" and a new song called "We've Lost You" from their album A-Lex. The 9th annual Latin Grammy Awards ceremony was held at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas and aired on Univision.
Derrick Green ? lead vocals (1997?present)
Andreas Kisser ? lead guitar, backing vocals (1987?present)
Paulo Jr. ? bass (1984?present)
Jean Dolabella ? drums, percussion (2006?present)
Wagner Lamounier ? lead vocals (1984?1985)
Jairo Guedes ? lead guitar (1985?1987)
Max Cavalera ? lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1985?1997), lead guitar (1984?1985)
Igor Cavalera ? drums, percussion (1984?2006)
Roberto "Gato" Raffan - bass (1984)
Roy Mayorga ? drums, percussion (2006)