Sepultura‘s 1996 album Roots is often associated with nu-metal, and just like many other artists have written off the label, the Brazilian band’s former frontman Max Cavalera doesn’t agree with it. He thinks the record was slapped with the categorization because of its success and popularity.
Korn essentially spearheaded nu-metal when they released their eponymous debut album in 1994, and other bands such as Limp Bizkit, System of a Down and Slipknot started to break through over the next couple of years. Thus, the timing of Roots’ release likely contributed to its association with the subgenre. In an interview with Chile’s iRock, Cavalera shared his sentiments about the album’s uniqueness.
“To me, Roots is a very heavy record. I think some of the stuff like ‘Straighthate,’ ‘Spit,’ ‘Ambush’ and ‘Endangered Species’ was so frickin’ heavy and it’s fast and it’s brutal,” the singer recalled. “I think it’s because it got tagged… It got really popular, it got trendy. Some people connected it with nu-metal. I don’t think Roots is a ‘nu-metal’ record. In fact, I think it’s very opposite, it’s really kind of more caveman. It’s simpler — downtuning but simpler riffs, very heavy percussion.”
Cavalera praised the musical risks the band took on the album, such as recording with Brazilian natives, as experimenting is something he doesn’t think enough bands do with their own music.
“A lot of bands like to play it safe. [They’re like] ‘We just make this record for the fans, and we’re good.’ And we’re just not that kind of band. We like to push the envelope. We like to go forward. And we always never really tried to make the same record. To me, it was an exciting record,” he elaborated.
The Sepultura founder further added that he understands why old-school metalheads may prefer the band’s albums Arise (1991) and Chaos A.D. (1993) over Roots, but that it was simply the direction they wanted to take at the time. But, coincidentally, it ended up being the last of their records that he played on.
See the full discussion below.