fter a disagreement between Max Cavalera and his brother whilst still in Sepultura, the vocalist and guitarist would leave to form his own act in 1997 to follow a less thrash/death style and incorporate more Korn-ish down tuned guitar hardcore metal, continuing on from the Sepultura's Roots days. Hiring the services of Jackson Bandiera (a.k.a. Lucio; ex-Chico Science; guitar) and Marcelo "D. Rapp" Dias (ex-Mist; bass), Roy "Rata" Mayorga (ex-Agnostic Front/ex-Shelter/ex-Nausea/ex-Chaos USA; drums) he would proceed to record their self-titled debut album in 1998. Despite recently discovering God due to the death of his stepson from marriage to wife (and manager) Gloria, and the illness of his other two sons, his vocals remained ungodly on the album. The album was a hardcore blast of heavy metal that many found refreshing, but no one could argue was anything but heavy. The follow-up album was no less different, featuring Mickey Doling replacing Bandiera and Joe Nunez replacing Mayorga.The disc also featured Burton C. Bell, Dino Cazares and Christian Olde Wolbers from Fear Factory, Fred Durst and DJ Lethal from Limp Bizkit, Chino Moreno from Deftones, Benji Webbe formerly of Dub War and a member of Skindred, Eric Bobo who was formerly of Cypress Hill, Jorge do Peixe and Gilmar Bola Oito from Chico Science as well as Nação Zumbi, and Mario C. The album went Gold certified in the US.
That follow-up, Primitive (2000), would see more of the nu-metal style as well as is chart position beat it's predecessor's 79 US (16 UK) with a 32 US, but fared less well in the UK with a 45 this time around. The album featured a number of guest appearances, including Corey Taylor (of Slipknot and Stone Sour), Sean Lennon, Chino Moreno (of Deftones), Tom Araya (of Slayer), Grady Avenell (of Will Haven/Cutthroat Logic/Babatunde/Asha Rabouin).
In late 2001, Joe Nunez left to join Stripping the Pistol. Roy Mayorga departed from his band Medication to rejoin Soulfly for the recording of their third album. 3 was the first Soulfly album which was produced by Max Cavalera. Several guest musicians were featured on this album as well.
In September 2003, after the world tour for 3, Marcelo Dias was fired from the band, and Mikey Doling and Roy Mayorga both left the band in protest, leaving Cavalera as the sole remaining member for three weeks. Claiming that it was his intention all along to not allow Soulfly to become like most other bands whereby the same musians played all the time, a new lineup was recruited by Cavalera for the Prophecy (2004) album. Joe Nunez returned on drums, with Marc Rizzo, formerly of Ill Niño taking guitar and Bobby Burns, formerly of Primer 55 on bass. David Ellefson (ex-Megadeth at the time) also played bass on several of the album's songs.
In February 2005, Soulfly released their first DVD, The Song Remains Insane, a biography of the band featuring live footage, interviews, and all of the band's music videos. In August 2005, 'Roadrunner Records' reissued their self-titled first album as part of the label's 25th anniversary celebration.
2004 saw Cavalera's friend Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott shot to death while playing in Ohio, and two days later (on December 10) of that year, his 8 month old grandson Moses unexpectedly died due to health complications.
Dave Ellefson came back to lend his talents to a couple of tracks, along with a new list of guest musicians, on the next album Dark Ages (2005). Conquer followed in 2008.
Omen (2010) followed shortly before bassist Bobby Burns quit. Former Static-X and current Asesino/Prong/Ministry bassist Tony Campos replaced him early the next year, along with Joe Nunez being replaced by Borknagar drummer David Kinkade. Enslaved would be the result in 2012.
Zyon Cavalera would assume drums soon after the new year for the release of Savages (2013).
After the release of Archangel (2015) Tony Campos announced via his Facebook page that he was leaving Soulfly to join Fear Factory to be replaced by Mike Leon.