– Hi, thanks for your time. What are you currently up to? How is everything doing right now with MERCENARY?

Hey, you’re most welcome. Right now we are on our first headlining tour in Europe in over 6 years, out on the road with Omnium Gatherum and Essence, and we are all enjoying the Indian summer here in Münich where we have the second show of 16 on this tour tonight. So things are good, we are out here promoting the new album and meeting people, so that’s really nice to finally be able to do that after having worked on the album for so long.

– You will soon release your new album, entitled «Through our Darkest Days». What are your expectations on it? How have the first reactions been?

Yeah it was released about a month ago. The first reactions have been very good I think, we got some good chart positions in the magazines in Europe and the fans seem to be very open towards the sound we have on the new album. As far as our expectations go, I have learned not to anticipate what’s going to happen but just go with the flow. That being said, we of course hope that fans, press and bookers are beginning to accept the new version of Mercenary since this is now the second album with the new constellation.


– The first thing that caught my attention was the pretty dark album’s title. Could you please tell us why did you pick it and what do some of its lyrics deal with? Is the title autiobiographic in any way?

Yeah it’s autobiographic to a certain extent. The band is a big part of our lives, and when we chose to go on with a new line-up almost 4 years ago we knew that things were going to be rough and that everybody would compare our future releases and sound with the old stuff. And we were okay with that, but we still knew it was going to be tough to get through and that it would require a lot of faith in each other to pull through it. And that’s very much the message on the album – that hope always have value in itself in your darkest times, no matter what the actual outcome will be. It’s a universal existential point so in that regard it’s not only about us in any way. I think people can draw from the album and nurture on it if they are willing to open themselves up to the journeys of hope and despair and the other emotional vistas the songs take you through.


– On this effort you have blended elements from your earlier records with touches from the last ones, along with nuances from sounds you have never used before in MERCENARY. Due to this I would like to know how was the songwriting process for this opus and it it did change at all compared to some of your previous releases.

The songwriting was first of all different in so far as we spent the whole year of 2012 writing it, whereas we had only spent something like 3 to 6 months on some of the previous albums. So we worked on a lot more material than what we ended up using on the album, and we were able to take the very best stuff and get into the core of that material and shape the album.


– This record reminds me to your first releases, with those great doses of melody. Did it everything come out naturally or did you want this CD to go into a certain direction?

The new album is very much a mixture of the more direct approach on Metamorphosis and the melodic and melancholic elements of the old material, and that was very much a deliberate choice. On Metamorphosis, we wanted to try something fresh and different because it was the only way we could proceed and stay alive as a band. But on this album it felt natural to reach for the core of the “Mercenary sound” and use all of the typical elements to the best effect, not just musically as such but also in regards to songwriting, vocal arrangements and harmonies and the production and mix itself.


– Will your next records also head into that melodic direction?

Time will tell – it’s not about strategy or commercial appeal or pleasing the fanbase or whatever, even though that might sound a bit jaded. It’s about what feels right in order for the band to continue to be a relevant and worthwhile project for us as individuals and as a group working together.


– I also notice some tracks are notably more aggressive than others, and this contrasts with the melodic and catchy choruses. Are this kind of contrasts something you were striving for?

Yes. I think the contrast have always been at the essence of what Mercenary is all about and I think those contrasts are all the more effective if they are used sparingly and not worn thin.


– I personally think this is your effort with the best equilibrium and also the most complete one, with no fillers. Could you say this is your ultimate record or is there always room for evolution?

Well thanks a lot; it’s very rewarding when people perceive the music like you intended it. To me, it’s the most complete album we’ve made so far in terms of combining the different characteristic Mercenary elements that we have used in the past. But of course I also think there’s room for improvement. I think René is only just tapping into his potential as a singer and will have much more to put on display in the future. Moreover, I don’t believe in the idea of perfection. There’s no such thing as perfection without the framework of a certain ambition or project. Something might be the best possible instance of its kind but you can always change the parameters and criteria of success for what you are doing. In relation to music and to our music in particular, I feel it’s always relevant to consider the mixture of criteria for what you are doing. I don’t think we have covered the whole ground of the potential sound of Mercenary, so hopefully we’ll be able to continue doing that on future albums by adding new musical elements and changing the mixture of the old ones.


– You are a melodic Death Metal band, but also throw in the mix elements from different music styles, such as Power Metal for instance. Due to this I would like to know what are some of your musical influences.

Well first of all, I never really understood why people have been so eager to call us a power metal inspired band even though there is some dramatic compositions

with clean singing. I don’t think we have elements where you can point to ‘a pure power metal band’ where that part could have come from. A lot of reviewers have also said we draw on a big influence from metalcore and to me it’s the same thing. I don’t listen to metalcore or powermetal and we’re inspired by neither. I think that issue comes down to the fact that we find our sound in combining whatever we like from much more classic metal which those genres themselves are somewhat derivative of. As for our actual musical influences, I think we are shaped as musicians by the metal bands that we grew up with as teenagers and which shaped us as musicians. For me those influences range from classic thrash like Megadeth (who the opening riff of the title track of the new album is an ode to, by the way) and Nevermore to bands with a darker melancholy, as for instance Katatonia within the metal genre or Kent (the Swedish pop band) outside the metal genre. I guess there’s also a kind of affinity with melodic death metal in general and we can’t (and won’t) deny a certain inspiration from bands like Soilwork or In Flames, even though I don’t think we sound like a typical band from that genre. But I guess by now we feel that we can do certain things that sound like Mercenary and when we try doing other things it doesn’t always work. But I think it’s in the nature of our somewhat eclectic sound to keep experimenting with the boundaries of our sound. It’s better to have tried and failed that to stay in your safe space all the time.


– This time the cover artwork has been crafted by the veteran Mircea Eftemie but, what did you want to depict on it?

We didn’t have any specific wishes in regard to cover motive. We were very open to whatever kind of ideas he felt would fit the album as long as it had some kind of emotional and symbolic resonance with the musical and lyrical aspects of the album. And in the end Mircea came up with something that was very close to our previous covers and we felt that suited the whole album nicely, as we also went back to certain elements from our older albums.


– All this about «Through our Darkest Days» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?

“Best of metal”, haha! Not in the extremely vain sense that this is the best metal album ever, of course, but in the sense that we are inspired by and present our vision about what is best in metal. We draw on the different tradition of atmospheres, riffing, vocal styles and arrangements from the many different the metal subgenres that we like and try to present it within a natural and organic framework.


– And finally; what are your near-future plans?

Well, when we get back home from this tour we have four weekends with show in Denmark and that’s more or less it for this year. We’ll try to find the time to do a video, we have some cool ideas for that. Then we’ll do a small mini tour in Spain early next year and then see what happens. We are hoping to have a lot of summer festivals next year and so far it’s shaping up nicely.


– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.

Thanks for doing this interview and thanks to the people who read it. Always remember to keep hope alive through your darkest days.


Sergio Fernández

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