Mercyless is a death metal band from France and Great Dane Records had just re-issued their 1992 release called "Abject Offerings", which originally came out on Century Media Records and here is an interview I did with original band member Max Otero.
You guys have been around quite a long time. Who from the original line-up is still in the band and what is the current line-up of the band these days?
So I ‘m the last one of the original line-up, and so the current line up is Merklen Matthieu (Bass), Michalak Laurent (Drums), Merklen Gautier (Guitars), Otero Max (Vox /guitars)!!
Tell me how the formation of the band came back to be back in the 80's and did you think in a million years that the band would still be around these days?
We are not sure about nothing, principally these days, no compromises, no guarantees, no regrets we started this band in the 80’s because, we loved this music, and we want to play music!! That’s all and that’s the most important... in a million years... ha ha... we will be dead!!!
You released 3 demos back in the 80's. What are your thoughts on these demos and what was the sound of the band like back then? Did these every get released on cd at all?
Yes these demos are on Cd now on a Cd version (Legions of death Recs.)... ( sold out now!)... that our testimony of our history... I think the 3 demos are very important, because you could see our progression and the evolution of the style during all these years. More thrash at the beginning and more death metal and obscure in the 90’s!!
Now I was doing a print fanzine back then called Metal Core that I do on-line now, what was it like being in an underground band back then? Did you know all about fanzines and tape trading and stuff and if so what were most of your reviews like for the band back then?
We are from the underground since more than 20 years, and I can say that we spread our name due to fanzines, tape trading, etc. This is the blood of the underground scene, and we work in the same vein these days, even today it’s more sophisticated and probably more simple. Fanzines rules!!
In 1991 you changed your name. Now for those who don't know what was your old band name and how did you come up with your current name?
We change our name “Merciless” to “Mercyless”, just before to record our first album in 1991, because of the Swedish Merciless!! It’ was simpler to differentiate the 2 bands!
I read where the band is based out of France . Has France always had a healthy metal scene and how is the scene there these days?
We have always been less important and smaller in France than in countries like Germany, Netherlands, England, etc. It was more difficult for a French band to be well known due to the lack of comprehension of the press and media, and probably the heritage of the culture in this Country. But after more than 20 years the scene is more bigger and more professional than in the past... the new media and the revolution of internet gives us more chance and skill... so there is now good bands, the old bands like Loudblast, Agressor, No Return and the new generation Ad Patres, Affliction Gate, The Seven Gates, Torture Throne... and organization, labels.
In 1992 you released your 1st full length called "Abject Offerings" on Restless Records. Tell me what your thoughts are on this release and how exciting was it for you as a band to be going in doing a full length for a label?
It was a dream for us. To release an Lp in the 90’s was just incredible; it was not so simple as today. Get a deal with a label was fantastic... it was really exciting to go to a professional studio with a very good producer (Colin Richadson), to see our album in the shops and distributed abroad, to see our name in the mags... what a wonderful time!!! We have put all our forces in this record!!! Young and sick!!
Is this release on Restless still available and if not has it ever been re-released or would you like to see it be re-released one day? Describe the style of music on this release?
Not available now with the original cover, but available with Great Dane Recs. With a different cover and the tracks remastered!! The style? Pure Death Metal!
In 1993 you released another full length this time on Century Media called "Coloured Funeral". How was it working with Century Media Records?
Just incredible, because this label is just one of the best record labels in the world, so the conditions were exceptional. They gave us all the possibilities to make a good album with good conditions.
Now from 1993 till 1996 you didn't release anything. Why was their a 3 year gap in between releases?
After 1993 we made lot of shows and tours, in France and Europe, but we have changed our line up too; So we have spent lot of time searching for new members!
In 1996 you released "C.O.L.D." on Thunder Productions. What are your thoughts on this release these days and is it still for sale?
We want to discover new musical horizons... so with a new line up, different influences... we have made something really different... strange times and strange music!! It would be better to change our name at this moment, but its life... available on Ebay now! Not our best album!! Of course!
What were some of the differences you noticed working with 3 different record labels? Had the bands sound changed much up until this time period?
We have only work with one important label, the rest are smaller and not so serious... the different! Ah! The investment and the professional work and ambitions!!
Now we fast forward to 2000 and you have another release called "Sure to Be Pure" on yet another label (System Shock). What are your thoughts on this release and is it still for sale?
Sale on Ebay I think, very different too... more intense, but the style... a little bit poor for a band like Mercyless!! Death metal was dead at this moment. I can’t really explain all these changes but this album got a good sound but the songs, different but shitty!!
Were you in the band "Day Off Sin", which contained some members of the band and played music in the Experimental Electro/Trip Rock vein as according to Encyclopedia Metallum some of the members had lost interest in death metal. If you were in the band, why such a radical change in music?
The line-up was really different, and we would try some musical experiment, and at this moment the musical scene was really shit. Neo metal, power metal... pfff it was the moment to try something else!!! But it was another band, not Mercyless... a radical change, yes but with different musicians, and another band, another times, and with radical changes in our personal lives!!!
Tell me about this release in 2011 the band was involved in called "In Memory of Agrazabeth". Is this release still for sale?
Sold out!! (Legions of death Recs.)... sorry again; see Ebay!!
In 2012 an "official" live bootleg came out called "Visions from the Past Live 1989". I see only 500 copies were pressed so is there any chance this ever get re-released?
Yes!!! This Collector Cd is still available through our facebook or the label “The ritual productions”!!
Would you ever be open to the idea of a boxed set of your music coming out and is there any unreleased stuff that you still have tucked away in a vault somewhere?
We have put lot of material from our Demos, live, in the double Cd “In memory of Agrazabeth” but I think it will possible to make a boxed set in a few months with very old stuff, rareties and new bonus songs!!
Do you think your a good live band and have you got to play many live shows over the years? What are some of the biggest differences you notice in crowds these days?
I hope that we are a good live band, it’s our goal!!! And we take a lot of pleasure to play our songs live, to be on stage... it’s a moment of truth!!! The big difference it’s probably the fact that lot of people go to see shows and extreme bands more than in the 90’s; and now the crowd wants to see professional bands, with a good sound!!! But the rage and the moshpit is still the same.
Have you ever gotten to do any type of touring and what are some of the bands you have shared the stage with? What are some of the biggest shows you have played?
Death, Cannibal Corpse, Morgoth, Samael. And the last biggest show was the HELLFEST!!!
Who came up with your cool logo to your band name?
At first it was an idea from me but the real logo was made by our first label “Jungle Hop Recs.”
In 2013 you released "Unholy Black Splendor" on Trendkill Recordings. How was it going into the studio to record this and how was it working with Trendkill Records?
It was pretty cool, we returned to the same first studio where we recorded “abject offerings” and it was mixed and mastered by Dan Swano at Unisound Studio. So we take our time to record this album in good conditions, and we think that the result is a raw sound, with our “in your face“ style, the real Mercyless!
How does a song come together and how about the lyrics?
We practice a lot, and we work on the guitar’s riffs and than make all the arrangements with drum and bass... at the end the vocals and the lyrics... evil, with a lot of rage, based on the visions of this fuckin world and religions!
Around how much time is spent doing band related stuff in any given week and what are some things you like to do when now doing band related stuff?
We spent probably 2 days by week on Mercyless stuff... and after I like... 70 000 tons of beers!!
Now here in 2015 Great Dane Records is re-issuing your Century Media release from 1992. Are there any bonus tracks on it and what are some great memories you have of recording this release back in the early 90's?
(Our Vinyl solution recs. release!)... no bonus tracks, but the same album remastered as a testimony!!! And yes lot of good memories, working with Colin Richardson was a dream, we discover a lot of things every day, and the most important, how to produce a good Death metal Album. Good times!!!
Please plug any websites you have and also where can fans order this re-issue on-line?
So to get the album, our label: https://greatdanerecords.bandcamp.com/
And facebook of the band: www.facebook.com/mercylesscult
Horns up and any last words to wrap up this interview.
Thanks a lot Chris for your support and interest in Mercyless. Check out our facebook page and we hope to see you all on live!!! Support your local scene, support the underground, and go to shows, support webzines, fanzines... And STAY EVIL!!
Interview by Chris Forbes
Answers by Max Otero