The Sisters of Mercy

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The Sisters of Mercy
The sisters of mercy logo 2006.jpg

The Sisters of Mercy at the M'era Luna Festival 2005 (in the cast Eldritch-Pearson-Catalyst)
The Sisters of Mercy at the M'era Luna Festival 2005
(in the cast Eldritch-Pearson-Catalyst)
General information
Genre (s) Hard rock , new wave , post punk , dark wave , gothic rock
founding 1980
Founding members
Andrew Eldritch
Electric guitar , vocals
Gary Marx (until 1985)
Current occupation
Vocals, drum machines
Andrew Eldritch
Ben Christo (since 2006)
Dylan Smith (since 2019)
former members
Ben Gunn (1981-1983)
Wayne Hussey (1984–1985)
Andreas Bruhn (1989-1993)
Tim Bricheno (1990-1992)
Chris Sheehan (1996; 2000-2003)
Mike Varjak (1997-1999)
Adam Pearson (1993-2005)
Chris Catalyst (2005-2018)
Craig Adams (1981-1985)
Patricia Morrison (1987-1989)
Tony James (1989-1992)
Alternative logo of The Sisters of Mercy

The Sisters of Mercy is a British rock band that was particularly popular in the 1980s. With their music influenced by psychedelic rock and punk , the group is one of the pioneers of Gothic Rock . In the second half of the 1980s increasingly came pop music - and mainstream - rock conditions influencing the fate added, making them able to increase its visibility again.

After minor successes in the early 1980s, the band found favor with a wider audience from the end of the same decade. Her best-known pieces are Temple of Love (1983, re-recorded in 1992 with Ofra Haza ), This Corrosion (1987) and More (1990).


Beginnings (1980 to 1983)

The Sisters of Mercy were founded in Leeds in 1980 by Andrew Eldritch (actually Andrew William Harvey Taylor) and Gary Marx (actually Mark Pearman), who met at the F-Club in Leeds and wanted to make music. Gary Marx was familiar with instruments, while Andrew Eldritch said he could play drums badly than well. But both wanted to hear themselves on the radio, on the John Peel Radio Show . The result was the first single Damage Done / Watch / Home of the Hit-Men in an edition of 1000 pieces with minimal equipment . Eldritch and Marx took turns singing. Guitar and bass were played by Marx while Eldritch was on the drums and played so poorly that he dropped his sticks while recording. The distinctive Merciful release logo based on a picture from Gray's Anatomy was also created at this time. They also founded their own label, Merciful Release , which is still in existence today. After John Peel played Damage Done twice on his radio show , the first and only edition sold almost completely.

In 1981 Eldritch and Marx met again to "get started right". Marx stayed on the guitar and was supported by the new Benn Gunn . Craig Adams (later The Mission , The Cult , now The Alarm ) took over the bass. Doctor Avalanche, a Boss DR 55 drum computer, completed the band. Thus, Eldritch “inevitably”, as he said, only had the song. Since then, Eldritch has also written all of the lyrics and most of the music. In 1981 the band's first concert also took place on February 16 at Vanbrugh College in York ( England ).

In 1982/1983 they published their first pieces, including Body Electric , Alice and Temple of Love . The band became popular quite quickly and in August 1983 the first concerts outside the UK were played in Belgium , the Netherlands , West Germany and the USA .

New heights and first band split (1984 to 1986)

In 1984 Wayne Hussey (Ex- Dead or Alive ) replaced the guitarist Gunn, who quit at the time because the band took himself too seriously according to his statements. The band got a record deal with WEA Records . The EP Body and Soul was the debut track with the new record company, and after further appearances the band set about recording the first long-playing record, which was released in 1985 under the title First and Last and Always . Guitarist Wayne Hussey wrote a good half of the songs.

As a result, arguments about creative influences and the direction of the band arose. Gary Marx left the Sisters in 1985 while on tour and founded Ghost Dance . After the last concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London , played by the remaining members, the quarrels escalated. During the recording of the follow-up album Left on Mission and Revenge , Adams and Hussey left the band because both of them couldn't get their own songs through against the resistance of Eldritch. To make matters worse, both were still in England while Eldritch had moved to Hamburg . Hussey and Adams founded The Mission and brought the songs originally intended for the Sisters such as Garden of Delight and Dance on Glass on their debut album, while Eldritch (next to Doctor Avalanche) was now the only member of the Sisters.

Hussey and Adams wanted to call The Mission The Sisterhood first, which led to a dispute with Eldritch over naming rights . Eldritch managed, together with people like James Ray and Patricia Morrison ( ex- Gun Club ), first to release a single and then an album as The Sisterhood. The album is called GIFT .

A restart and a new dispute (1987 to 1995)

Patricia Morrison (bass) stayed with the Sisters, who made a comeback with the hit This Corrosion in 1987. Together with studio musicians , the second album Floodland (1987) was recorded, which was quite commercially successful, not least because of the rockier sound and daring choirs. Eldritch wrote both the lyrics and all of the music on this record. The band did not play live, but extensive videos such as Dominion in the desert of Petra were recorded. But this collaboration also ended in 1989 with a dispute; Eldritch later even denied that Morrison contributed anything to the album. Her name is not mentioned on the album cover either, she is only shown on some photos.

With a new line-up, Vision Thing was released in 1990 , the last studio album with which the Sisters left their Gothic phase behind and turned to hard rock . New in the band were Andreas Bruhn (guitar), Tony James (bass; Sigue Sigue Sputnik , Generation X ) and Tim Bricheno (guitar; All About Eve , X-CNN , Tin Star ). Singles were More , Doctor Jeep and When You Don't See Me . A number of concerts have now been played in Europe and America (there with Public Enemy and Warrior Soul ). The band had their biggest hit with a new edition of Temple of Love (1992) with the participation of the Israeli singer Ofra Haza . By then, Tony James had already left the band.

In 1993 Adam Pearson (guitar / bass; Johnny Thunders ) replaced Tim Bricheno and recorded the single Under the Gun with guest singer Terri Nunn ( Berlin ) . Andreas Bruhn ended up in music production more and more, and his guest appearances with German metal greats such as B. Doro Pesch . His exit shortly after completing a European tour in December 1993 was inevitable. During the 1993 tour, local Antifa groups were always represented with stands in the concert halls. Another planned single, a dance-heavy remix of their own classic More , never got beyond promo status, but is still occasionally played on the radio today. The new song Come Together , which was already played live at the time and is not a cover version of the Beatles' song of the same name , was also not released.

In 1994 and 1995 the Sisters were very quiet. Eldritch went on strike with his EastWest record company and steadfastly refused to provide them with new material for a studio album. It was mainly about the way in which the Sisters are supported by the company (which, according to Eldritch, didn't happen at all), especially with regard to sales in America. The idea of ​​a joint tour with Metallica was not realized. In 1995 there was also a brief contact between Eldritch and Gary Marx. Marx wrote some songs for the Sisters and sent them to Eldritch, hoping to shorten the time until the next album. Contact broke off without result. These songs were completed by Marx and released in 2004 under the title Nineteen Ninety Five and Nowhere . In 2007 the album was expanded and remastered. It can be obtained from Marx's website.

Comeback (1996 to today)

In 1996 guitarist Chris Sheehan (also Chris Starling ; The Mutton Birds , The Starlings , Babylon Zoo ) joined the band, who was replaced by Mike Varjak from 1997 to 1999. Although no more records have been released since 1993, the band has played concerts and festivals in Europe regularly since then (1997 to 1999 also in the USA). A highlight was z. B. the short-term appearance as headliner at the Roskilde Festival 1998.

A new creative phase began when the band added new songs to their concert program. Since Come Together started in 1993 , more and more new pieces have been added to the live set since 1997: War on Drugs, Summer (both 1997); (We Are the Same) Susanne, Will I Dream ?, Romeo Down (all 1998), Crash and Burn, Snub Nose (also “Top Nite Out;” instrumental) (both 2000); I Have Slept With All the Girls in Berlin (2003); Still (2006). There are also other songs, according to their own account. In addition, some cover songs such as B. With me you're beautifully played by The Andrews Sisters , Confide in Me by Kylie Minogue or Capricorn by Motörhead . Own classics such as Lucretia , I Was Wrong , Body Electric and Marian are also reinterpreted live.

In late 1997, EastWest bought an Eldritch-produced album by a band with the cryptic name SSV-NSMABAAOTWMODAACOTIATW , entitled Go Figure , in place of two contractually agreed studio albums by the Sisters. Go Figure is neither officially nor unofficially a Sisters album and only contains a few sampled voices from Andrew Eldritch. The album is of extremely poor quality and was never officially released, but is in circulation as a bootleg . As a result, EastWest canceled the contract with Andrew Eldritch, who refused to release a new Sisters album under this label since 1993.

The Sisters announced in 1998 that the day after the official end of the EastWest contract, an indie single would be released, which would be called either Come Together , War on Drugs or Summer . However, it did not get released for various reasons, one of which was that Pearson refused to record the piece he wrote, Summer , because he thought it was not good enough.

Since 1999 there have been reports that the Sisters are in the studio to record the new and untitled album. In fact Eldritch demanded at the time an advance in the amount of 3 million US dollars . The album could then be recorded within a few months. There are currently no concrete plans for a release, on the one hand because Eldritch was unable to sign a contract after talks with various large record companies, on the other hand because Pearson refuses to publish the pieces he has written on an indie label . During the 2001 tour, the Sisters concerts always featured an Amnesty International stand near the merchandise .

In 2003, shortly before the start of the Smoke and Mirrors tour, a raw video of the song We Are the Same, Susanne was made available for download from a live performance on the official website . Since the website's servers could not withstand the onslaught, the video was removed from the site and instead an MP3 track in mono with various compression rates was made available, which can still be downloaded today.

After a live break in 2004, the Sisters again played concerts and festivals in various locations in Europe in the summer of 2005. Chris Sheehan had left the band in the meantime, the second guitar was taken over by Chris Catalyst (real name Christopher May ). In the same year Adam Pearson joined the re-established MC5 and played with them u. a. on the Berlinova - Festival . At the same time he continued to play guitar for the Sisters, but finally left the band at the end of 2005. His successor is Ben Christo (real name Benjamin Christodoulou ).

At the end of 2005, the Sisters published the first dates for a North American tour that took them through the USA, Canada and Mexico in February and March 2006 . With 26 concerts this tour was surprisingly large, but this was increased again when the band announced the first dates for a subsequent European tour at the end of January . And there, too, the surprise was great, as a concert was also planned in France , where the Sisters had never played since the band was founded in 1980. The Sisters then played at various open-air concerts until the end of July 2006, including a. at the Novarock Festival in Nickelsdorf, Austria. For the second time since 1993, the Sisters played as opening act for Depeche Mode in Bratislava, Slovakia . After a short break, the band played a festival in Istanbul in September . On December 7, 2006, the Sisters Bite the Silver Bullet tour was concluded with a concert in Moscow . The Sisters toured 28 countries in 2006, including France for the first time.

Andrew Eldritch (2006)

Due to the surprising scope of the 2006 tour, speculation about a new release made the rounds among fans and supporters of the band. However, there are still no tangible news that indicate a new CD or DVD . However, in December 2006 the albums First and Last and Always , Floodland and Vision Thing were reissued as digipack CDs. In addition to the standard titles, every CD was filled with B-sides and, in some cases, previously unreleased alternative song versions (e.g. Never Land as a “complete version” on Floodland ). In February 2007 a CD box was released with the title A Merciful Release , which contains the reissued digipack CDs. In the summer of the same year the Sisters played at festivals in Spain, Germany and Belgium.

In 2009 The Sisters of Mercy toured again, this time through Europe, South America and the Middle East. Despite lingering rumors of a new album, The Sisters of Mercy continued to tour internationally without an album release. In 2012 the band performed at the Amphi Festival. Warner Music released vinyl box sets from Floodland , Vision Thing, and First and Last and Always in 2015 . Both well-known EPs from the group were added. Planned concerts in Germany in autumn 2015 were canceled due to Eldritch's larynx. A replacement concert took place in March 2016. In the summer of the same year the band performed again at German festivals.

Work and Influences

Worldwide, The Sisters of Mercy are considered one of the most famous and important representatives of Gothic Rock. In particular, the early work up to the debut album First and Last and Always is often mentioned by the press with reference to this genre. However, The Sisters of Mercy distance themselves from what is now called Gothic music and the associated Goth movement. In their opinion, this image was attached to them by journalists and has been used ever since in connection with the Sisters. Some interviews were terminated by the band if the journalists conducting the interview used the "G-word" too often and in spite of the band's clear references to this word. While the first gothic interpreters were skeptical of the idea of ​​producing rock music and rejected rock clichés, Andrew Eldritch saw himself as a rock musician.

“An awful lot of horrific bands come from England, especially from London. A lot of them go on stage talking about 'We're not a rock band'. We do it the other way around - take a step forward. We say, 'We're a rock band.' Very loud."

- Andrew Eldritch - The Sisters of Mercy

The Sisters have redefined themselves over and over again during the time they have released records. After the release of the first single, which it claims was inaudible, the band's line-up was expanded. The most important change here was the installation of the drum machine Doctor Avalanche, which was always jokingly referred to as a band member (in the first incarnation a Boss DR55 ), but also the timing of bassist Craig Adams, which was adapted to the doctor. Musically, the Sisters were mostly based on punk / rock-like songs ( Body Electric , Floorshow ). Nevertheless, the band showed a broader spectrum of emotions and moods early on - The Reptile House EP should be mentioned as an example. In terms of production, however, the Sisters were still in an early development phase, which is why the songs sounded a bit “thin” and “underproduced”.

After Marx, Hussey and Adams left, Eldritch used the Sisterhood adventure to expand his knowledge of music production, according to James Ray. So much on Gift is reminiscent of the early independent days, even if the songs sounded more “mature” than at the beginning. The relatively short time span of ten days between recording, production and release may also have played a role.

The album Floodland, entirely written and partly produced by Eldritch, is considered a milestone . The first single, This Corrosion , which appeared before the album, was also produced with Jim Steinman through the participation of the New York Choral Society . Clever arrangements and more feeling for the individual instruments are the hallmarks of Floodland , which can best be described as "alternative pop". Dominion , Lucretia and Flood II as mid-tempo pieces and the ballads 1959 and Driven Like the Snow show the band's extensive repertoire.

With the departure of Patricia Morrison and the increase to a total of four band members in 1989 and 1990, the time of a hard-rock-heavy soundscape was heralded. Together with Andreas Bruhn, Eldritch wrote the album Vision Thing . Again, the first single from the album, More , was co-produced and co-written by Jim Steinman . Elements were used in the chorus from The Catwoman's Song (I Need all the Love I Can Get) , a piece from Steinman's never-performed Batman musical. With Maggie Reilly a female voice could be won for the background vocals. At Vision Thing , the synthesizers were kept to a minimum while the guitars were mixed more distorted, louder and harder. This style was retained until the last single, Under the Gun, in 1993. Acoustic ballads like I Was Wrong and Something Fast fall into this period as well as the new version of Temple of Love (1992), which was successful in the European charts thanks to a good production and the participation of Ofra Haza. It is also worth mentioning that since Tony James left in 1991 the position on bass has not been occupied by a musician. Instead, after many modifications (it now runs entirely on a computer) , Doctor Avalanche also took over the bass guitar part and has held it to this day.

Further changes starting in 1993, in which Adam Pearson , Chris Starling and, in the meantime, Mike Varjak participated, meant a further development of the sound. Above all, Pearson took part in the songwriting and also dealt with the technology in the background. The sound went more towards alternative rock , in which playful lead guitars and driving rhythm guitars, supported by synthesizers, demonstrate the new way of songwriting. Summer stands for this kind of music with fast and driving beats, while We Are the Same, Susanne still has the feeling for ballads. The songs recently written and played live, such as Crash and Burn and Slept, are representative of the band's new style of playing and the broad repertoire.

The last notable change came with newcomer Ben Christo , who replaced Adam Pearson on lead guitar and here shows a style of playing that is clearly taken from Metal .


  • The name The Sisters of Mercy has multiple origins , according to frontman Andrew Eldritch . In English it stands for nuns (merciful sisters) as well as (colloquially) for prostitutes . Eldritch also sees the latter in connection with the rock 'n' roll business. Above all, however, it is also a tribute to Leonard Cohen 's song of the same name. The title of the album Some Girls Wander by Mistake is a quote from Cohen's song Teachers .
  • In their contracts , for example, the band attaches great importance to the fact that the The in the band name is not left out.
  • In the 1980s, the Sisters were considered the most booted band in the world. Even today, some concert recordings made during an ongoing tour appear.
  • In a few songs it happens that the Sisters played a part backwards: in the song Burn (1983), for example, a complete verse is hidden, in the long version of Vision Thing from 1992 there is an excerpt from the film Apocalypse Now , and the song Ozymandias , released in 1988 as B-side, is the entire song Dominion played backwards.
  • In the 1990s, the Sisters were a gang sponsor at FC St. Pauli , a declared favorite club of singer Andrew Eldritch.
  • The Sisters only appeared once with a real drummer , and that was a playback appearance on the Peters Pop Show on ZDF , where the songs I Was Wrong and More were played.
  • Temple of Love (1992) was first presented in 1992 at the Demolition Gallery in Hamburg's Hafenstrasse . The song with Ofra Haza is also included in the soundtrack of the 2004 film Against the Wall .


Studio albums

year title Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
1985 First and Last and Always DE40

(7 weeks)DE
- - UK14th

(8 weeks)UK
First published: Aug 11, 1985
Producer: Dave Allen
1987 Floodland DE32

(20 weeks)DE
- CH24 (3 weeks)

(20 weeks)UK
US101 (16 weeks)
First published: November 13, 1987
Producers: Andrew Eldritch , Larry Alexander, Jim Steinman
1990 Vision thing DE13

(39 weeks)DE
AT21 (2 weeks)
CH22 (16 weeks)

(4 weeks)UK
US136 (23 weeks)
First published: November 13, 1990
Producers: Andrew Eldritch, Jim Steinman

Tours since 1996

  • 1996: Roadkill 96 (with the Sex Pistols ) Germany
  • 1997: Distance Over Time (concerts with Cubanate ; festivals) Germany, Austria, England, Ireland, Greece, Belgium, USA
  • 1998: Event Horizon (including Think About Mutation , Scoda Blush , Orange 9mm ) Germany, Austria, England, USA
  • 1998: Summer (festival tour, including Roskilde)
  • 1999: Sisters To The Planet Edge (with Tube ) USA, Canada, Mexico
  • 2000: Sisters Trip The Light Fantastic (festivals; concerts with Freak XXI ) Germany (Mera Luna Festival, for the first time since the split in 1985 The Mission and the Sisters play on the same day of a festival!), England, Scotland, Spain
  • 2001: Exxile On Euphoria (with Tin Star , Paradise Lost , Project Pitchfork ) Germany, England, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Portugal
  • 2001: various festival appearances in Germany, Belgium, Sweden
  • 2002: various festival appearances in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland
  • 2003: Smoke And Mirrors (with Sulpher , Oceansize ) Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, England, Scotland
  • 2005: various concerts in England, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic
  • 2006: Sisters Bite The Silver Bullet (with The Warlocks, NIHIL) North, Central and South America and Europe
  • 2007: various festival appearances in Spain, Austria, Germany, Belgium
  • 2008: Ocean to ocean (with Hypernova) USA, Canada and various festival appearances in Portugal, Belgium, Bulgaria
  • 2009: Mechanized Europe and rest of the world with appearances in numerous European countries, including Norway, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Croatia, Hungary as well as in Lebanon, Israel, Argentina, Peru and Brazil
  • 2014: Luxembourg - Rockhal

Literature / sources

  • Underneath The Rock (UTR), official fanzine of the band (currently discontinued)
  • Andrew Pinnell, Heartland, 4 volumes, Warminster 1989/1990. (The first three issues have also been published as "Heartland Anthology"; out of print)
  • Rainer Ettler: The Sisters of Mercy. Biography - interviews - discography. Lübeck: Zillo, 1991.
  • Werner E. Lehmann: The Sisters Of Mercy. edel company, Hamburg 1992; ISBN 3-927801-65-8 .
  • Glasperlenspiel , unofficial fanzine (in English; discontinued in 2006)
  • Andrew Eldritch, Postcards from above the Chemist, The Reptile House 1993 (lyrics, out of print )

Web links

Commons : The Sisters of Mercy  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. subculture! - Gothic Rocker , , December 18, 2008
  2. ^ The Sisters of Mercy homepage: about SSV
  3. ^ The Sisters of Mercy homepage: Soundtrack to that clip of We Are The Same, Susanne
  4. ^ Concert in Cologne: The Sisters of Mercy inspire in the Palladium. Retrieved August 20, 2016 .
  5. a b Simon Reynolds: Rip It Up and Start Again - Post Punk 1978–1984 . Faber and Faber Ltd., April 2005, ISBN 0-571-21569-6 , pp. 445ff.
  6. The Sisters of Mercy homepage: Doctor Avalanche .
  7. ^ Heartland Interview with James Ray .
  8. Batman. The musical .
  9. Chart sources: Singles Albums DE UK Billboard 200