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Mercenary: Metamorphosis

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.

Track Listing
01. Through The Eyes Of The Devil
02. The Follower
03. In A River Of Madness
04. Memoria
05. Velvet Lies
06. In Bloodred Shades
07. Shades Of Grey
08. On The Edge Of Sanity
09. The Black Brigade

Added: March 15th 2011
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4093
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Mercenary: Metamorphosis
Posted by Simon Bray, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-03-15 08:31:07
My Score:

As a bit of a fan Of Denmark's finest – I rate The Hours that Remain as one of my favourite discs of the previous decade – I was somewhat worried when the Sandager brothers upped sticks along with drummer Mike Park Nielsen in 2009 saying, "we no longer share the same vision and enthusiasm about the direction and the future of the band".

This left guitarists Jakob Mølbjerg and Martin Buus in charge of the band along with bassist René Pedersen (now bass/vocals) and I for one believe that along with new drummer Morten Løwe the new look Mercenary have produced an album that stands up well to their back catalogue and provides hope for a bright future for the band.

I can totally take on board Pete Pardo's suggestion about the emo-type vocals and indeed that was my initial reaction but after a couple of spins it became apparent that their trademark melodic death metal stylings are still present and correct. For a fuller review of the songs have a lookj above at what Pete has to say, for it is a perceptive review but for me Metamorphosis is well worth three and a half stars and is in no way the disaster I'd been expecting.

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