I have been spending a lot of time reviewing XenoKorp releases of late and it all started with this gem of a record that was recorded twenty five years ago, namely Coloured Funeral by Mercyless. This album was probably too ahead of its time when it came out but those who know and appreciate the quality of the musicianship on show knew that this would be an underground classic.
Finding this album was like finding a needle in a haystack but XenoKorp and Century Media are now re-releasing this classic death metal album. I urge you all to embrace this second chance and purchase your copy of this album in every format and I promise you, you will not be disappointed. I also took the opportunity to interview Max Otero, who since 1987 has devoted his life to spreading the message of Mercyless. Enjoy.
How does it feel to get Coloured Funeral out there again for the masses after almost 25 years?
We feel very happy to have made this release again after 25 years! I think it was the good moment and it’s a great collaboration with Xenokorp Records. Especially with this album because we released a collectors version in vinyl and digipak with lots of stuff and we want to pay tribute to Rade (bass player) who left us two years ago.
Before its re-release through XenoKorp/Century Media, was there anything you would have liked to have had a chance to change or revisit now that you have had time to reflect on it?
No! We don’t want to change anything. This album means a lot for us as it’s our history and it’s a testimony of our music in the ‘90’s. We are very proud of this release.
We all know the situation with you being the sole original member of the band, however, for the last few years; you have had a pretty strong line up. Does each member contribute to the Mercyless sound of today or does most of the song writing still get done by you?
I think we work a lot together, with all the new members since 2010. We became friends at first which is most important before making music. I do the song writing with the drummer and we spend lot of time making the arrangements and the final versions of the songs. For me the most important thing is to make music with the entire band as making something alone would be pointless.
Finding a label to release your music must have been hard due to the fact that labels are finding it hard to survive as well. Did you ever think of folding the band or releasing your music independently before XenoKorp came along?
To be honest, no. I want to concentrate in my music and in the career of the band. For the rest we need a label for the music to be distributed in the world and to share our music it’s pretty cool to have a label and XenoKorp make a real deal with Mercyless and support the band a lot.
There are plenty of musicians that I have been in touch with where death metal runs through their veins and have been playing death metal since the late 80’s like yourself. As stated in my review of Coloured Funeral, Mercyless took a departure from death metal in the mid 90s. Did you always feel that you would come back to this style at some point?
It was a very strange period in the mid 90s what with a different line up and we wanted to discover different things in music. There were a lot of changes in our personal lives and that is why we were a little bit lost in the musical industry at that moment (…and don’t forget the grunge style which was invading the world!). We know that it was not the real Mercyless. We were just waiting for the right moment to be back with big motivation, no compromises and lots of anger to make the return of Mercyless.
After so many releases with the band, do you think you have reached the sound that you want for Mercyless or are you constantly looking to evolve that sound?
Each album is different due to a lot of things, but probably we had found our sound after Pathetic Divinity with its raw, intense, old school sound. We are always searching for that kind of sound and at the same time we are searching for the good combination to get the best sound possible, which is an endless quest!
What opportunities have you had for playing live for the remainder of this year and for 2018? Are you looking to expand to play countries you have never visited before or is it difficult for the band in terms of family commitments and work to get away for a week long European tour for example?
Being a musician and playing in a band is very difficult nowadays because we have to be on the road repeatedly to spread our music. So we are away from our place a lot of times during the year and it’s hard to combine this with our jobs and family. It‘s very difficult and we have to plan a lot but we work a lot to make tours and concerts possible during the year. At this moment we are working to prepare some tours in Europe for 2018, but definitely it’s so amazing to be on the road and to play death metal in each part of this world.
I have been into death metal since the late 80’s and one of the pleasures of that time was tape trading and getting letters from the bands. Times have changed to the detriment of bands who are finding it harder and harder to live off album sales. Bands like Mercyless will be required to tour more in order to bring income to survive and hope to sell merchandise. What is it that keeps Mercyless going?
At first we make this music for passion, not for fashion and that’s very important. We are still here after all these years because we love death metal and we want to share our passion with the public worldwide. Yes it’s very difficult to survive but we fight every day and we work a lot to spread the death metal of Mercyless all around the world.
I really liked Coloured Funeral the first time that it was released and thought that a lot of the ideas throughout the album were ahead of its time. It still stands the test of time today. How would you compare your music on arguably your best album to that of today?
After all these years and to have taken a step back, the result is that this album was a little bit avant-garde, brutal, and technical. I don’t know why but today lot of people love this album due to the fact it’s different in the vein of bands like Pestilence, Atheist, Atrocity etc
How is the French scene of that period compared to that of today? Label mates I personally have had the pleasure of hearing are Savage Annihilation and I would recommend them to everybody. Are there more bands that deserve a bigger audience and to be noticed?
I think we’ve got probably the most innovative death metal scene in the world in my opinion. Bands like Ritualization, Skelethal, Cadaveric Fumes, Necrowretch, Savage Annihilation and newcomers like Disfuneral and Fall of Seraphs are really representative of the power of the French death metal scene today. I’m very proud to play with a lot of them because this new generation reminds me of the 90s as they know how to be intense, evil and how to sound old school. They deserve to be famous.
2017 has been a very eventful year for Mercyless with a number of new releases for the band. This proves that the band is very much alive and kicking. What does 2018 hold for you?
We will probably repress Unholy Black Splendour with XenoKorp and we are preparing some gigs and tours for 2018. Stay alive and ready to spread the plague again and again! In 2018 we will give you pure Mercyless death metal.
A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?
For a great Death party
- Possessed – Seven Churches
- Slayer – Reign in Blood
- Pestilence – Consuming Impulse
- Death – Leprosy
- Hellhammer – Apocalyptic Raids
Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?
Thanks a lot Ricky & Moshville Times for your support and thanks to all our death metal supporters. Hope to see you soon on tour! Support your bands, the underground zines, and radios etc. Stay Evil!
Coloured Funeral is out now