SCHOOL DEATH METAL
1. Hello Max. Your new album
"Pathetic divinity" was released a few weeks ago... In which state of
mind are you? Quite excited and anxious? The flow of reviews and interviews is
soon to come?
Max Otero / Hello!! In fact it just began with a bit of delay, but it started
circulating. Excited and motivated of course, because each album is a new
challenge for us, we can't wait for peoples to hear our new songs and defend
these tracks live... As of now every feedbacks are good!!
2. The first album released since the comeback of the band, "Unholy black
splendor", was in a very old school death metal style, very close to the
origins of the styles, almost thrash metal by moments... While the songs of
your new album are a bit more varied, warmer, and a bit more melodic... Could
we say these new tracks are getting closer to the style of the "True
Mercyless"? Perhaps "Unholy..." was some kind of restart,
re-warming album that allowed you to feel at ease again?
Max Otero/ I think you answered
the question! Very simply, a comeback at the front of the scene deserves a very
thorough work, and after 10 years of standby, we obviously needed a bit of time
to readapt. Unholy Black Splendor is a good picture of the situation, we
already have a very precise idea of the music we wanted to offer, but we
necessarily had a bit fewer of recoil, than for the new one "Pathetic
Divinity" which is more mature and thoughtful, in my opinion.
3. So with this new album Iretrieve a bit more of the MERCYLESS I listened to
at the time, with more fast parts (Blasts) and some melodic sides that
sometimes almost turn to doom... How would you describe the album to someone
who didn't hear it? And to someone who doesn't know the band?
Max Otero/ Ah! Good question... I would say this is a Death metal album to be
very rooted in the 90's, old school with a very organic side, and also a very
straight-to-the-point production!... I can't do better for a description!
4. To describe the music I would be attempted to quote a blending of MORBID
ANGEL ("Altars" for the energy, and more recent records for the
heaviness), DEATH (Leprozy/ Scream bloody gore), MORGOTH (Cursed), with a bit
of PESTILENCE... Would you like to add a few bands to this list? Is MERCYLESS a
decidedly old school outfit, or do you allow yourselves to keep an open-mind
with newer influences?
Max Otero/ Your description suits me very well, it's right and I have nothing
to add... I would say we don't consider things under that angle, one can say
the band is old school because this is where we feel the best and our striking
force is the most efficient, it's a style that flows in our veins, and we do
not need to think about it because we compose this music in the most natural
Now we are opened to a lot of newer influences, but the experience of the past
taught us, we shouldn't disperse ourselves with attempts of songs that don’t
fit the image of the band.
5. The second guitarist of the band, Stéphane Viard, who was also an original
member, left the band in 2014. And so you find yourself to be the last original
MERCYLESS member... Will that make a difference at the level of the
composition? Did Stéphane contribute to "Pathetic divinity"? Are you
the main composer, or are the other (More recently arrived) musicians playing a
role at this level?
Max Otero/ Stephane contributed to the composition of two tracks on this album,
as well as leads, he isn't a part of the band anymore but he will probably take
part here and there for punctual featurings in the future. Also perhaps for
last minute help in case of gigs, because he's a childhood friend and remains
very close to the band. Otherwise I remain the keeper of the temple, because I
always had a very clear idea of what MERCYLESS should be, at the level of the
production and compositions... So obviously I remain the main composer, with
Laurent (Drums). A band that clearly knows the path it should embrace to
preserve its identity and style.
6. How long did it take to compose this last album? Perhaps some tracks we
already begun before the release of "Unholy...'? (Perhaps you even have
few ideas of riffs that were recorded in the 80-90's, on old dusty tapes? (I
know some bands play this game, but now is it a good walk?)
Max Otero/ No, we started working on the album in May 2015, with new ideas
only, and with a very precise idea of the main lines. We did an enormous work
on compositions and their arrangements, for a total duration of almost one
year. We compose short songs and our albums have a short duration, because we
want to reach the essential.
7. You recordings that appeared since the comeback of the band weren't released
by labels to be especially specialized in old school Death metal. Is this a volunteer
choice? Do you prefer to reach a larger metal audience, rather than a pack of
peoples who are totally in a precise style, even if you don't touch every pure
juice death metallers?
Max Otero/ Frankly, this didn't happen in that manner, there were no
preconceived ideas at the beginnings... And we won't imagine fairytales, these
labels did what they could with their funds (This said it's not enormous!)...
But when we came back we had to work hard to catch the interest of potential
labels, because even if we had a past, we had a lot to prove... The world of
labels and business has changed a lot the last years, and with these thousands
of bands and the lack of funds for labels, it's not easy to make a place for
your band... We do not aim to find an eclectic label, but just someone to do
his job seriously... And trust me, there aren't many!!
8. In the middle of the 90's, the band evolved in a different style, it was
more progressive and not too much death metal anymore... Do you still enjoy
some of these songs? Perhaps some could one day go through a more death
metallic readaptation, and so you could play it live?
Max Otero / It was another epoch, another line up, other
influences... It was a very blurred epoch for me... I simply wish to forget
this era, even if I don't regret, because you learn a lot from your mistakes!
9. You have released a vinyl split with CRUSHER in 2015, on Deadlight
entertainment. Can you talk a bit about it? Was this project organized by the
label, or does the initiative come from a member of the bands? To be totally honest
I was quite disappointed with the songs of CRUSHER that only offers some kind
of cheap SIX FEET UNDER, it's not very glorious :)
Max Otero / It's simply Crass of Crusher who invited us to be a part of
this split, because someone made him an offer... Since we never released a
split before we took the opportunity to record a new song. We were in the
pre-production process of the new album; so we did some try-outs at the level
of the production, and I find the cover artwork to be very nice!... Now as you
say I find Crusher were a bit too fast to record in my opinion, the band was
reformed around Crass since only a few months... A bit short in my opinion.
10. At the time of your first albums, I remember you were talking about a
mystical character named Agrazabeth (If I don't mistake) that dictated yourself
some compositions during your dreams... Are you still in touch with this dreamy
muse? Is it a spirit from beyond, some kind of baleful spirit such as a ghoul,
or another entity?
Max Otero / Dreamy muse... The word is right... You have good memory...
It's an influence from beyond the dreams... The capacity to understand this
materialistic world... It's a singular spirit that provides me with very
precise ideas of how to put in shape the music that comes through my mind...
Obviously this muse very easily navigates through the wrath of malicious
spirit... From there I take the force and energy of MERCYLESS... This comes
from a very special meeting I had in 1988, it was with someone very involved in
esoterism, occultism... This is very strange but I cannot tell you more...
11. You have a quite scorched vocal tone, I imagine this could quite hurt the
throat after hours of macabre regurgitations… Have you got a particular tip to
maintain your vocal cords and avoid being nailed to the floor too rapidly?
Max Otero/ It’s true that I use the throat contrary to many metal vocalists,
and so I should be very careful when several dates are following each other’s, or
when I’m in the studio, but through the years I have developed a technique to
save my voice during tours, and I have a very special way to record my vocals
in the studio… The first thing is simple; that is I work a lot during the
composition process so that the recording of my vocal parts can be really
quick, and I can keep all the force and intensity during the sessions… So I can
record two tracks per day, and then I spend two days without recording, and I
can record for two more days… It will take me two hours a day.
12. You played quite a lot of gigs since the comeback… What kind of places fit
the best the music of the band ? You generally prefer the crowd from which
country? Are there places in particular where you’d like to play? (It seems
South America is the best at the level of the crowd… South East Asia could also
Max Otero/ It’s true we played quite a lot since 2011, and certainly more than
at a given time. We aren’t hard to please, we play where peoples agree to take
us, we can play in caves or festivals, or big rooms as openers, it’s a bit the
daily bread for a band like us… And sometimes we are even treated as beginners…
This is how it is and we don’t complain, we accept this situation… It’s the
world of metal, isn’t it?
We enjoy the French public, because it is reactive, we also like the Spanish or
Belgian crowd… Then Germany, Holland, it’s a crowd to be quieter and more
attentive to the music… We obviously hope to enlarge the panel for the next
concerts, we would like to play in Portugal, and South America would be really
killer, because peoples are crazy in there!!! United States could also be very
nice… Well for now we try to play as much as possible, because it becomes more
and more difficult!!!
13. Someone of the label had the good idea to offer the whole album as free streaming
on Youtube, at the moment of the release… This enabled me to check out the
music very fast and realize this interview AhAh
What’s your opinion about the whole downloading and streaming bazar… Taken to
the extreme, nothing has any meaning anymore…
Max Otero/ … Yes, as you say it has no more meaning… The times become really
difficult for the bands, in a matter of sales… Then you can easily notice some
bands tour more and more to have more cash coming in and sell more merchandising…
And so there is an escalation of tours that never end and the merchandising is
more and more expensive… In my opinion the next problem of the metal scene will
appear at this level… The production and release of music almost has almost no
value anymore, and so we can notice the quality of music generally decreases
(How could one release a good album when bands are touring 300 days a
year!!)... For some peoples, the release of an album has only become a reason
to promote something and go back on the road… Personally speaking, it’s a long
time since I really enjoyed an album in its entirety… But if I want to see a
band live this will be without a problem, with all the festivals and gigs you
can easily see a band 4 or 5 time a year without problem…
There is also a problem of broadcasting rights with streaming, for me the real
problem are all the internet majors (Spotify, Deezer, Itunes….) who monopolize
music, who sell it for almost nothing, and pay the artists with remains of
dust… We are the spectators of a real mass thievery, justified by the fact they
broadcast music on their own platforms… We will see how the following evolves!!
14. Listening to your last album, I said to myself you should still listen to
the old albums of the cult bands, and you might as well enjoy the albums of
more recent bands, the content isn’t totally stuck in time J So, can you tell us a bit more about the more actual bands you enjoy
and are quite often a part of your playlist? Are you rather Entombed copies
Swedish death, more obscure bands to be close to Incantation, barbaric black
death close to Blasphemy?
Max Otero/ It’s true I remain eternally nostalgic of the 90’s, and I still enjoy
as much listening to
Possessed, Morbid Angel, Slayer (early !), Pestilence, Hellhammer,
Bathory, Sadistic Intent, Ex Mortis, Sarcofago, Asphyx…. Etc… I don’t know what
else to say, it is how it is, I love the sound, the production, the imagery of
this time!!! Then of course I’m not closed to what happens in the current
scene, I like the last releases of Behemoth, Rebaellium, Krisiun, Skelethal
Remains, Coffin Texts, Dehuman…. etc… For Swedish Death metal it’s true I like a lot the first Grave and
Entombed albums, but since more than 20 years we are fed with followers who
come with the same sound, same production, same style… I have a problem with
it, it kinda repeats itself too much… Even if I like the last entrails album!
(Ah Ah!)… Ok guys, put away your HM-2 distortion pedals for a moment!!!... Then
there are also the obscure and extreme bands à la Incantation, Acheron,
Blasphemy, Nifelheim, Watain, Gospel of the Horns…… This kinda speaks to me as
the “music for the forces of evil” Ah Ah!
15. I like to explore some blogs that uploaded old demos from the 80-90’s… And
even if I Iisten to Death metal for more than 20 years, I’m still surprised to
discovered really cool bands I couldn’t have heard before! For example, a few
months ago I have discovered a demo of the French band BURIAL VAULT for the
heavy and obscure death metal style, it’s not bad at all! I also only knew the
thrash metal epoch of MESTEMA, and I must say their Death metal epoch on “The
way of stupidity” is quite killer! Fast blastbeats and almost bestial parts!
For a French Death metal band in the 90’s, it was quite extreme… I imagine you
should know these bands well… But I wonder why they got so little recognition,
even in the quite deep underground (I had to search to find their recordings). Do
you have an idea about this topic?
Max Otero/ You didn’t know Burial Vault yourself ?? I’m surprised ! Ah
Ah… Honestly there were a lot of more obscure bands in France in the past, even
if some were efficient. Unfortunately they didn’t get the deserved recognition,
it’s really a shame, there were Burial Vault (I think we played gigs together,
but I’m not certain), or also Obscure (An only demo), Dagon, Mortal fear… etc…
And of course MESTEMA, our friends, we spent some killer moments together, and
yes they have released two killer demo, the lack of recognition put an end to
the band. It’s a shame because their music was intense and very original for
this time (Pierre, the bassist, and David, the drummer, played with Mercyless
from 1995 to 2000!)
16. Since you’re a survivor of this epoch, you might have a few names of not
very famous French death metal bands that released demos, and that would
deserve to be heard… So if you wish to, give us the names!
Max Otero/ … Look in the previous answer, and there are more… But I should play
this Obscure demo to you (It’s ultra rare… Because the guys of the band lost
the tapes!!! Alcohol is so beautiful !!!)… This demo, you directly released it
as an Ep!!!
17. To remain a bit more in the past… Are there fanzines you regret? Some
perhaps had a particular state of mind? Snail mail letters, flyers, it was
anyway cooler than emails (Even if these are cheaper… Something that remains to
be proven at the level of global pollution…)
Max Otero/ Ahhhhh !! You touched a sensible point… Oh shit how I can
regret this epoch… Letters filled with flyers, with demo cassettes inside, some
beautiful discoverings, thousands of contacts, hand-written letters, shit I was
waiting for the postman as a sniper, each letter was a real pleasure!!! The
polish guys who were all doing a fanzine and wanted tshirts, free demos,
hundreds of interviews… South America was writing to us every day, the trades
of tapes (Very often with guys who are now very famous !! It’s the little
plus)… And often when I talk about all of this to younger guys, they look at me
as if I was coming from another planet!!... Until the moment I show them a
letter hand-written by Ross Dolan (Immolation) at the time… Then, in general,
they drop a little tear!! Ah! Ah!... For me the best fanzine of the time was
« Slayer mag »… The (satanic) bible that helped us to discover
so many bands, there was also Brain damage, Sceams from the gutter …. And for
the French zines Decibel Storm was very professional, Initium, In extremis, and
Desaster (My fanzine… 50 copies each!!!) And then numerous others!!! (I won’t
insult you listing the thousands of zine from the time… This said didn’t you
have a fanzine as well as a newsletter back then!) I will never adapt myself to
emails… It’s faster, but it’s so impersonal, fucking shit!!
18. The end of the interview is near… You can add what you wish, to speak about
your future projects… And it’s already quite good ! Thanks for the
Thanks a lot for this interesting interview, and thanks for the
support !!! I hope you will enjoy our new album, in my opinion it will be
a little kick in your bottoms!!! Otherwise we will tour a bit with Putrid Offal
in November (France/ Spain), then we have a tour with Avulsed and Savage
Annihilation in April and then a little tour in England… Friends gig
organizers, festival promoters, think about us, we are as burning as hell!!! I
know you prefer to invite Sabaton, Arch Enemy, Ghost, Within Temptation,…(Well,
all these bands who want to play at the Eurovision!) for the 15th
time… But if you wish to see how the devil looks like… contact us! Come on! The
weather is good in the depths!!! The re-release of “Coloured funeral” will come
out very soon!! EVIL WILL CONQUER!!!