Why did Max Cavalera leave Sepultura in the 1990s?

What Year Did Max Cavalera Leave Sepultura?

After more than a decade in the band and appearing on six studio albums, Max Cavalera left Sepultura in 1996, the same year the group released the groundbreaking tribal groove metal album Roots.

When Was Max Cavalera's Last Performance With Sepultura?

Max Cavalera played his final show with Sepultura on Dec. 16, 1996 at Brixton Academy in England. The 27-song performance was released as the Under a Pale Grey Sky live album in 2002.

The final song he played with the band was a cover of Motorhead's "Orgasmatron" as a second encore.

What Were Max Cavalera's Reasons for Leaving Sepultura?

A number of factors contributed to Max's ultimate decision to depart Sepultura.

  • Band Fractures Over Management

In the shadows of making Roots, trouble was brewing as the band approached a new career peak. Max's wife, Gloria, had been managing the band and her contract was set to expire near the end of 1996. The other three members — guitarist Andreas Kisser, bassist Paulo Jr. and drummer Iggor Cavalera (also Max's brother) — had expressed a desire to move ahead with a new manager and pursued this change. Max, however, was against the idea.

To Max, it felt like the band was stripping control of a manager who had been successful. To everyone else, they felt like favoritism was in play and that Gloria was catering to Max's interests more than the band's at large.

“Things had started to go kind of weird before that. When [Max and Gloria’s son] Zyon was born, instead of putting a band on the cover of a magazine, they had Max with his kid. That’s nothing to do with the band. To have a kid is not that special. I have three myself. I love them, but I don’t use them as a trophy," cited Kisser to Metal Hammer as an example of such treatment.

  • The Death of Dana Wells

Amid these tensions, as Sepultura were set to take the stage at the Monster of Rock festival at Castle Donington in England, the group received tragic news that Gloria's 21-year-old son (Max's stepson) Dana Wells had been killed in a car accident in the United States. Kisser received the news first and was the one who had to inform Max and Gloria.

Both Max and Gloria immediately flew back to the U.S., leaving an ascending Sepultura to perform one of their biggest and most important shows to date as a trio with Kisser handling lead vocals.

"The situation in the band, it had been going bad [even before that]. It wasn't the beginning of that, but it added to it," Max told Heavy 1/Hard Force Radio in 2021 about how the tragedy impacted the eventual fallout.

  • The Final Straw

“We had the contract. We had a legal tool on our side, where we could exercise an option not to continue with Gloria because we wanted to change the way Sepultura’s business was done. And they didn’t want to hear it," Kisser said to Metal Hammer of the band's aim after Wells' death.

Time was working against the band and Max said in the aforementioned interview that, in hindsight, it would have been best if everyone was able to take a year off to simmer down.

However, the rest of Sepultura got into what Kisser described as a "big fight" with Gloria in Beunos Aires in mid-November, after which, differences were irreconcilable.

Over the decades, Gloria has been blamed for the demise of this classic lineup, but that's not the narrative Max feels best represents the situation.

"[The fans] always go, 'She broke up the band.' And the truth is we grew apart. We started hating each other, man. It happened to The Beatles, and it happened to many other bands. Pantera. It's just how it is. We didn't find the joy in playing with each other anymore," Max told The Dan Chow Show in 2022. "I'd rather they blame me than her or somebody else. Blame me for Sepultura splitting up. I would much rather prefer that," he argued.


Who Replaced Max Cavalera in Sepultura?

Ohio-born vocalist Derrick Green was officially announced as Sepultura's new vocalist in 1998. He has fronted the band ever since, contributing to nine studio albums, from Against through Quadra.

Sepultura, Derrick Green
AFP via Getty Images

READ MORE: Why Did Bruce Dickinson Leave Iron Maiden in the '90s?

What Bands Has Max Cavalera Been In Since Leaving Sepultura?

A lot.

His primary recording vessel has been Soulfly, the groove metal band he formed in 1997. From 1998's Soulfly through 2022's Totem, the band has released 12 studio albums.

In 2007, he formed Cavalera Conspiracy with his brother Iggor, who left Sepultura in 2006. The group has released four studio records and even re-recorded Sepultura's first album, Morbid Visions in 2023.

Killer Be Killed, the metal supergroup featuring members of Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge, have put out two full lengths and Go Ahead and Die, a hardcore-crossed death metal group, issued their self-titled debut in 2021.

Soulfly also features Max's son Zyon on drums. Go Ahead and Die stars his son Igor Amadeus, who has also been a live member of Soulfly as well.

Will Sepultura Ever Reunite With Max Cavalera?

Don't count on it because neither side seems interested.

In early 2023 in an interview with Rock Interview Series, Max cited how busy he is with his numerous bands and that playing the classic Sepultura material with his brother "fills the void."

In the summer of 2023, Kisser also downplayed the idea of a reunion, even with Sepultura's 40th anniversary coming up the next year. He said on the Sonoros Podcast, "No, why would we do that? To ruin the party?"

Max + Iggor Cavalera's 10 Favorite Albums When They Were Teenagers

The brothers take us back to where it all began.

PLAYLIST: Ultimate Groove Metal

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