Quite a lot has been going on in the Mercenary camp the last few years. First, the band lost their drummer, keyboard player, and lead singer, then left Century Media Records. Fast forward to 2011, and Mercenary have added drummer Morten Løwe, and bassist René Pedersen now is handling all vocals. Together with guitarists Jakob Mølbjerg and Martin Buus, the band have put together the long awaited Metamorphosis
on their new label Prosthetic Records.
The title of the album truly is indicative of what has gone on with the band. This truly is a 'metamorphosis' so to speak. Those expecting the mix of melodic death metal, progressive & power metal, and thrash that we heard on The Hours That Remain, Architect of Lies, and 11 Dreams will be in for a shock. Sure, there's elements of what we heard on those three great releases, but on Metamorphosis there's a much greater metalcore element going on, especially with some of the vocals, arrangements, and the occasional 'breakdown'. The catchy melodies and harmonies, two of the things that always set this Danish act apart from many of the others in the extreme metal genre, are here in spades, especially on tracks such as "Memoria" and "The Follower", and there's no shortage of blistering guitar work from Buus throughout. So, what's the problem? Well for one, Pedersen's melodic vocals have a 'emo-ish' feel to them at times, and seem at odds with his brutal hardcore barks, death metal growls, and black metal screams. Where previous lead vocalist Mikkel Sandager had a soaring power/prog metal style, Pederson's comes from a more modern metal approach. His extreme delivery is just fine, but some listeners might find his clean vocal approach bringing Mercenary dangerously close to acts such as Sonic Syndicate, All That Remains, and the like. Another big change here are the lack of keyboard orchestrations, something that worked so well on previous releases but are used quite sparingly here.
That being said, there are some quality tunes here, like the epic sounding "Velvet Lies", the chugging "In Bloodred Shades", the complex "On the Edge of Sanity", and the rampaging "Through the Eyes of the Devil", but in all honesty, there's nothing that compares to the stellar material found on the bands previous three releases. Mercenary's prior unique approach to combining different metal styles, both vocally and musicially, now seems to have morphed into a sound that, quite frankly, sounds like so many other bands on the scene.
Ultimately, there's some fine music to be heard on Metamorphosis, but many loyal fans who might have had this on their 'most anticipated CD list of 2011' could very possible shift it over to 'biggest letdown of 2011'. It's not bad by any means, but certainly doesn't live up to the standards set by their back catalog.
01. Through The Eyes Of The Devil
02. The Follower
03. In A River Of Madness
05. Velvet Lies
06. In Bloodred Shades
07. Shades Of Grey
08. On The Edge Of Sanity
09. The Black Brigade