For years, there had been widespread rumors and speculation about a reunion of the classic lineup of Sepultura—the Brazilian thrash and death metal band that was viewed as deities in the ’90s metal scene. However, with Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser and original vocalist/guitarist Max Cavalera putting those thoughts to rest repeatedly in the press, the closest to a Sepultura reunion fans probably will ever see is Max and his drummer/brother Igor in The Cavalera Conspiracy. So what we have had for years is the current—and still solid—Sepultura lineup with Derrick Green as vocalist and Max’s own band, his “baby,” Soulfly. But what this ugly split, and sometimes dispute, has done for over the past decade is allow Max to bring us some of the most exciting new bands, collaborations and side projects, some of which may have never have happened otherwise.
Let us first take a look at the present day. Max Cavalera is no stranger to experimenting in the metal scene. His resume speaks for itself with the groundbreaking Chaos A.D. and Roots from Sepultura, the subgenre-shifting Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, countless guest appearances and most recently, a new supergroup called Killer Be Killed, featuring a lineup of The Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist/guitarist Greg Puciato, Mastodon vocalist/bassist Troy Saunders, ex-The Mars Volta drummer David Elitch and Max on vocals and guitar. The band released its debut self-titled album May 13, 2014, (Nuclear Blast) to solid reviews.
So the big question is, what would it sound like if you took the sludge metal of Mastodon and the mathcore chaos of The Dillinger Escape Plan, and added a lethal does of thrash metal from Soulfly? The answer? Not like anything you would expect.
That couldn’t have been a better description, when 20 years ago, in 1994, Max, together with friend Alex Newport of the sludge/grunge metal band Fudge Tunnel (Listen to Fudge Tunnels’ Creep Diets 1993 album here) started the now-cult-favorite band, Nailbomb. Its only album, Point Blank, was an experimental molding of thrash, industrial and punk, and even contained an early incarnation of nu-metal. It goes down as one of the most solid side projects ever released. Fans have been pining for another album from the one-off band for years.
In an interview we did with Max in 2009 (read), we asked him if he would consider doing another Nailbomb album even if it meant collaborating with different musicians or friends. Here’s what he had to say back then:
No, Nailbomb is actually done. It was just two records that we did, Point Blank and (the live album) Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide. I still play some of the tracks live—I play some Nailbomb live from time to time. A lot of fans like it, a lot of people are asking about it, but I’m not gonna do anything else with it. We’d kill it, you know? We got done with it.
But in a 2014 interview (read), when we asked Max about the potential longevity of his new band, Killer Be Killed, he compared it to Nailbomb once more, and although it seems like another Nailbomb record will never happen, Max has changed his tune and told us it’s something he is starting to regret:
Nailbomb was only a few albums, and sometimes I think it was a mistake because Nailbomb could’ve done a lot more. And I don’t wanna make the same mistake with Killer Be Killed. I think Killer Be Killed is awesome and deserves to make more records and more music because it’s a great outlet of inspiration for us to be able to do Killer Be Killed.
In fact, it was Nailbomb’s hardcore punk/industrial album that served as inspiration for Killer Be Killed when Puciato originally contacted Max about doing something together. Here’s what Max had to say about Nailbomb and that experience, paving the way for Killer Be Killed:
In the beginning, it was really like Nailbomb. In fact, I think if it would have just stayed me and Greg on the whole thing, all the way through, it would’ve sounded a lot like Nailbomb, because it was really more kind of heavy, and it was just us. And then once you got other people involved like Troy and Dave, that’s when it became more melodic and more mixed, which is great because I think it’s good to have that mix and have different influences.
So I figured with Killer Be Killed in everyone’s sights and Max once again reflecting on Nailbomb, this was the best time to reintroduce the new generation of metal fans to Point Blank.
Now, let’s take a ride in the way-back machine to the year 1994. I remember a big buzz preceding the release of Point Blank. I remember this because at the time I went to one of my most memorable concerts at the tender age of 17 when a carload of friends and I saw Sepultura, Fear Factory, Fudge Tunnel and a then unknown Clutch, at the old Hammerjacks in Baltimore, Md., Saturday, March 5, 1994, on the Sepultura’s “Chaos A.D. Tour.” No Nailbomb material was played live, but I remember seeing the band’s army stencil style logo stickers all over the walls.
Sometime after the show, I got my hands on the CD and didn’t remove it from my player until my neck was sore, my throat hurt and my speakers had begun rattling. Sounding like neither Sepultura nor Fudge Tunnel, the musical style was entirely new. From the opening hardcore-thrash of “Wasting Away,” the disc is its own monster, varying in styles and packing the “fuck you, fuck the world” attitude (“24 Hour Bullshit”) that makes it so damn great. Other lyrical topics tackle police, religion (“Religious Cancer”) and a decaying society. Max and Alex share vocals and guitars, trading angst back and forth, backed by samples, in-your-face industrial riffs and, on most tracks, a drum machine. Several guest musicians appear, including guitarist Dino Cazares (Fear Factory, Divine Heresy), Igor Cavalera and D.H. Peligro (Dead Kennedys). The duo also covers “Exploitation” by the English hardcore band Doom.
The album seemed like it was a huge success at the time. I remember seeing dozens of Nailbomb T-shirts up and down the boardwalk in Ocean City, Md., (I owned one myself. What happened to that fucker?) and record stores all had the album in stock, along with posters and memorabilia. I saw the advertisements in metal magazines (remember those?) for the album, picturing the controversial cover photo of a woman in a third-world country held at gunpoint. The label, Roadrunner Records, was heavily promoting the release—they knew they had something great.
In true punk tradition, this was the band’s only studio album and they only performed one live show. The show happened to be a pretty big one, though, at the 1995 Dynamo Open Air Festival in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. It was captured on tape and released in 1995 as a live album called Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide. The live performance also was released on DVD in 2005 under the title Live at Dynamo. The album also featured two new bonus studio tracks, “While You Sleep, I Destroy Your World” and “Zero Tolerance,” that shifted in even more of an industrial/nu-metal direction. Judging by these two songs, I thought at the time that Nailbomb was going to tear the roof off with its next release.
Twenty years later, Nailbomb’s Point Blank stands the test of time. This is one of those albums to listen to when you’re pissed off at the world—fuck it, I’ll just listen to Nailbomb. It’s raw, it’s real, it’s punk as fuck, it’s Cavalera and Newport at their creative peak. Ask any fan of old-school Sepultura about Nailbomb and they’ll tell you the same thing I just did. Twenty years later, the disc sticks out like a sore thumb in my music collection and it’s one of the select few I’m still drawn to, giving it a spin as necessary. Now let’s just convince Max and Alex that a new Nailbomb record is necessary, and 20 years from now, we’ll still be listening and writing about that one, as well.