Every serious Sepultura fan knows 1993's Chaos A.D. was a watershed moment for the Brazilian group. Not only was it their major-label debut, it was the album with which they burst out of the conventional thrash ghetto and became recognized globally as a modern, inventive group, one that had a substantial impact on both the nu-metal and New Wave of American Heavy Metal movements. Inspired by hardcore, punk, tribal music and extreme metal, Sepultura were determined to make an album that would set them on a new musical path. But it was producer Andy Wallace who helped them get there. First, the band relocated to Phoenix and spent months writing songs. Then, in order to break routine, Wallace arranged for Sepultura to record the album in Wales at Rockfield Studios.
Once he took hold of the material the band had written, Wallace helped them restructure and refine the songs, come up with new experimental ways to express themselves, like adding the heartbeat sound of Cavalera's unborn child to the beginning of "Refuse/Resist" convincing drummer Iggor Cavalera to add a Brazilian tribal pattern to the beginning of "Territory" and working with the band to track a trenchant version of New Model Army's "The Hunt."
That Chaos A.D. features an experimental blend of unconventional riffs, offbeat vocal styles, three instrumental tracks and a whole lot of revolutionary rage is undisputable. But here are five facts about the album that might come as a surprise.
1. Chaos A.D. was originally going to be called Propaganda
Sepultura worked so hard on the music that they didn't really think too hard about naming the album. At first, frontman Max Cavalera decided to name it Propaganda after the sixth track on the record. It made sense since there were songs on the album about censorship ("Slave New World"), organized religion ("Amen") and governmental conspiracy ("Biotech Is Godzilla"). But as the deadline approached to get the album title to the label's art department, Cavalera nixed Propaganda and replaced it with Chaos A.D. — a title he came up with thanks in part to his collection of punk records. "I thought about the Misfits album Earth A.D. and I decided to mix it with the word 'Chaos,' because that is the state of the world we were living in. The record company was freaking out because I turned it into them at the very last second. But it's a much better name than Propaganda."
2. The tribal instrumental "Kaiowas" was recorded inside Chepstow Castle in Wales
When Sepultura hired Wallace to produce the record he insisted the band record the album at Rockfield Studios in Wales. On the way to the studio, Sepultura passed Chepstow Castle — the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortress in Britain — and Cavalera decided he wanted to record the tribal acoustic song "Kaiowas" inside the building. "I thought it would be so cool recording in a Welsh Castle and it was," Cavalera said. "Andy made it happen. He got all the gear and cables in there. And the place we did it in didn't have a ceiling so when the song starts, when you listen with headphones real loud, you can hear all these fucking seagulls flying around."
3. The title of "Refuse/Resist" was conceived during a ride on the New York City subway
One day when he was in New York riding the subway, Cavalera was intrigued by the eccentric characters on the train. One, in particular, caught his eye — an African American man wearing a black jacket decorated with words from a political speech. He liked the punk-rock vibe of the outfit and used the last three words as inspiration for the punk-inspired album opener. "It said 'refuse and resist,' so I used that for the song and then I wrote very simple lyrics: Chaos A.D./ Tanks on the street / Confronting police/ Bleeding the Plebs. They're Discharge-oriented lyrics. I listened to a lot of Discharge at the time and they're as simple as it gets. The songs are like two lines that are really powerful and fucking killer. Even today, 'Refused/Resist' feels like riot music to me."
4. Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra wrote the lyrics to "Biotech Is Godzilla"
As a longtime fan of early punk-rock bands, including Black Flag, Bad Brains, Circle Jerks and especially Dead Kennedys, Cavalera was excited by the idea of having DK frontman Jello Biafra contribute to the album. He didn't want him to sing, he just wanted lyrics. "I don't think Jello is a bad singer, I just think his lyrics are so great. They're so sarcastic and smart. So I asked him to write the lyrics and he said, 'What should I write about?' I said, 'Anything you want to, man.' So he came up with 'Biotech is Godzilla,' which is about the 1992 Rio Summit, where all these politicians got together and talked about technology. Jello's big theory was that AIDS was invented by scientists in laboratories. It was a disease created by us."
5. While touring for Chaos A.D., Cavalera was arrested at a festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for allegedly desecrating the Brazilian flag
In 1994, Sepultura were rocking out at a festival in their native land in front of 20,000 people. It seemed like the ultimate homecoming – a celebration of all they had achieved since they burst out of their Brazilian town Belo Horizonte in 1988. But the party came to an abrupt end when someone in the crowd tossed a Brazilian flag onstage. "I picked it up and held it up to the crowd to symbolize Brazilian pride, but I got arrested because someone at the venue said I stepped on the flag as a protest against Brazil," Cavalera recalls. "Suddenly there were 20 cops in my dressing room and I'm being taken to jail and charged for being anti-Brazilian. The story kept growing and growing. People starting saying I spit on the flag, and then I pissed on the flag, and finally, they were saying I shit on the flag. I called my grandmother and she said, 'Why did you have to do that with the Brazilian flag?' And I said, 'Grandma, I didn't do anything with the flag. I just held the flag. Everything else was all invented!'"
Below, Max Cavalera shows off two of his oldest metal vests and discusses the inspiration, process and meaning behind his "battle jackets":