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Sepultura: how the Brazilian band got their name

Sepultura in the 90s


Sepultura: how the Brazilian band got their name

The Brazilian Metal band Sepultura was formed in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil back in 1984 by the brothers Igor and Max Cavalera alongside their friends Cássio and Beto Pinga. In the following years the group had many line-up changes and finally in 1987 the classic line-up was formed with the brothers, the bassist Paulo Jr. and the guitarist Andreas Kisser.


With that formation the group became one of the most influential Thrash Metal bands of all time, releasing many praised albums which were a worldwide success. Some of them are: “Arise” (1991), “Chaos A.D.” (1993) and “Roots” (1996).

But what is the meaning of the name “Sepultura”? How the Brazilian Metal group got their name?

Sepultura: how the Brazilian band got their name

The band’s guitarist and vocalist Max Cavalera have always been a huge Motörhead fan and after fame he was lucky enough to meet Lemmy Kilmister and become a good friend. But back in the early 80s, when he was thinking about the name for his band, he was hearing Motörhead’s 1983 album “Another Perfect Day”. It had the track “Dancing On Your Grave” that was one of his favorites from that record.

Brazil’s official language is Portuguese and translating the title of the song the phrase is: “Dançando na sua sepultura”. So “Sepultura” is actually the word “Grave” in portuguese. Cavalera recalled that in an interview for the documentary “Global Metal” (2007).

“(Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) I went to English school maybe twice in the school. I learned just a little bit. My English came from the dictionary and Black Sabbath albums translating everything. I wanted to know what those guys were saying. So I spent hours and hours with the dictionary in my room translating. Including (Sepultura’s) name, because it comes from Motörhead’s ‘Dancing On Your Grave’. So that was cool, it was actually educational,” Max Cavalera said.

Max left the band in 1996 being replaced by the American singer Derrick Green. The drummer Igor, who is his younger brother, stayed as a member of the group until 2006 when he also decided to leave. Since then the group has only two classic members: the bassist Paulo Jr. and the guitarist Andreas Kisser.

How he discovered Motörhead

He first discovered Motörhead in the early 80s because it was when the records were finally released in Brazil because the British band was on a major label. Max told Revolver magazine in 2022 that the first Motörhead albums he bought were “Ace of Spades” (1980), “Iron Fist” (1982) and the live record “No Sleep ’til Hammersmith” (1981).

Lemmy’s band ended up being a huge influence to Sepultura not only giving them their name. It also became an inspiration for their sound and songwriting.

“Motörhead showed that you didn’t need to be a virtuoso musician to make cool music. Like the punk movement exposed that, and I think Motörhead did that for metal. You really didn’t need to be an Eddie Van Halen, born with amazing ability to write good songs.”

“I’m sure they are the main influence on the whole thrash-metal and death-metal movement … the pioneers. The first time you hear the double-bass on “Overkill” it’s like, that’s the beginning of thrash and death metal to me,” Max Cavalera told Revolver.

Sepultura covered Motörhead’s “Orgasmatron” as a bonus track on their 1991 album “Arise”. They performed the song many times during their live concerts when Max was still in the band. The song was originally released by Lemmy’s group on their 1986 album of the same name. Sepultura also had the chance to tour many times with Motörhead in many different countries.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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