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Mercenary: The Hours That Remain

My first exposure to Mercenary came with their debut on Century Media Records with the release 11 Dreams. It was an album that took established standards in the Death Metal realm and combined them effectively with happenings in the Progressive and Power Metal areas. The end result was a magnificent album that was very difficult to turn off once you had listened to it in full. The Hours That Remain marks the bands fourth actual album but second for CMR and its good to see that the sophomore curse does not apply on ones new label in terms of Mercenary. The band continues along the same lines that they gave on 11 Dreams and this sense of continuity keeps the listener in tune with the style and vibe that they deliver. The thing most Metal fans will enjoy about Mercenary I feel is the clever use of multi-layered vocals that add a certain "big" sound to every song. The guitar and drum work is exceptional throughout and as the album begins with "Redefine Me" you are quickly brought back into the sound of the band in case you had somehow forgotten what they were all about. It's a quick reminder as the pummeling begins with "Year Of The Plague", the dark Death vocals now mixing with the clean and the layering to bring a different level of life to this bands music. "My World Is Ending" has the potential to be a decent single for the band as it's not as over the top and maintains a steadier crunch and perhaps can have the audience singing along with fists pumping to the air. The neo-classical keyboard feel of "Lost Reality" adds a mixing of Progressive and Opeth textures together and should also become a favorite of the listener. The tricky thing about a Mercenary album which I learned the first time around was the difficulty that one has in turning it off once it completes. I enjoyed the whole thing once again, and the title track "The Hours That Remain" (also the albums longest track) makes for the perfect closer of this album.

The band members stand at Mikkel Sandager (vocals), Rene Pedersen (vocals/bass), Jokob Molberg (guitar), Martin Buus (lead guitar), Mike Park (drums), Morten Sandager (keys/piano). The six-member group is assisted on a couple of songs by Soilwork's "Speed" Strid and Heaven Shall Burn's Marcus Bischoff. Fans of Soilwork, Scar Symmetry, and Nevermore should really look more into Mercenary who are continuing to prove that they are one of the best bands in Heavy Metal today.

Track Listing

  1. Redefine Me
  2. Year Of The Plague
  3. My World Is Ending
  4. This Eternal Instant
  5. Lost Reality
  6. Soul Decision
  7. Simplicity Demand
  8. Obscure Indiscretion
  9. My Secret Window
  10. The Hours That Remain

Added: November 13th 2006
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: Mercenary Website
Hits: 9682
Language: english

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Mercenary: The Hours That Remain
Posted by Butch Jones, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-11-13 06:11:48
My Score:

What in the hell is in the water over in all of those Scandinavian countries? The best metal of the past almost 10 years is coming out of there & there seems to be NO letting up, and Man, I for one can't get enough of it! Denmark's Mercenary have a tremendous CD called The Hours That Remain (Century Media) that is steeped in everything that makes up Scandinavian metal. Speed, power, furiousness and haunting vocals and those huge melodies that seem to only come from that part of the world. Mercenary have a killer CD here.

A sort of concept record, The Hours That Remain, Mercenary's 4th record, tells the tale of the human self-destructive path of futility and degradation. Part prog metal, part death-thrash style metal, Mercenary are very melodic while never losing their heaviness. From the thumping opener "Redefine Me", to the complexity and potency of "This Eternal Instant", Mercenary never lets up. The thing is, the vocals are menacing, clear and multi layered with huge hooks that never leave your head. You'll be humming their melodies for days! Headbanging stuff for sure.

Recorded and mixed by Jacob Hansen (Communic, Maroon, Hatesphere, etc.), The Hours That Remain is a great sounding record. Guest vocal appearances by Soilwork's Björn "Speed" Strid and Heaven Shall Burn's Marcus Bischoff, help give "The Hours That Remain" even more credibility that is almost not even needed. Check out the epic "Lost Reality" for a perfect example for the bands faultless merge of intricate musical prowess and a catchiness unequalled.

From awesome guitar pyrotechnics, to masterful melodies, to aggressive pulsating rhythms, to Mikkel Sandager's brilliantly performed catchy vocal hooks, The Hours That Remain is destined to be Mercenary's breakthrough record. This innovative Danish band have a record not to be missed. One of the best releases of the year!!

If you're into bands like Soilwork, In Flames, Opeth, Nevermore & Mnemic, RUN, don't walk to your favorite CD store & pick this up. You won't be disappointed!

Mercenary: The Hours That Remain
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-09-07 14:49:35
My Score:

Publishers Note-the official US release of The Hours That Remain contains a bonus DVD which has a documentary/making of featurette that shows the band in the studio and in rehearsal, putting the finishing touches on the new album. Also included is the band's appearance at the 2005 Dynamo Open Air Festival in front of a fairly quiet audience. The band play's their asses off to a few tunes from 11 Dreams, although the vocal mix is a little off. In addition you get the video of "Firesoul", in which footage from the festival was used, and a bonus live bootleg concert shot from what looks like the sound board, although no other info is given as far as what show it was filmed at, other than it was in Switzerland. Audio-wise it's not bad, and although you get only one camera angle for the whole set, the performance of the band is excellent.

This is a great extra treat for Mercenary fans to have this DVD included with the new release. Snap it up before they are all gone!

Mercenary: The Hours That Remain
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-07-18 18:26:13
My Score:

Sometimes you just have to wonder if each band has that "one" breakthrough album in them, never mind potentially two of them. Take Mercenary for example. 2005's 11 Dreams was one of the best releases of the year in this writer's opinion, and seemed an awfully hard act to follow. Well, after numerous spins of the brand new The Hours That Remain, it's pretty safe to say that Mercenary have created an album that is at least equally as good as its predecessor, and perhaps over time will surpass it. Still the basis of the Mercenary sound are the soaring, catchy melodies, coupled with a healthy dose of guitar crunch, twisting solos, symphonic keyboards, and pummeling rhythms. This time around, the arrangements seem a tad more complex, and there are an abundance of wild guitar solos from Martin Buus (can't let Scar Symmetry have all the fun now can we?) who has truly shown improvement even after his impressive performance on 11 Dreams. However, it's the pairing of progressive metal styled clean vocals with screaming black/death metal vocals that really works so well here, giving the music a sound that borders on multiple metal sub-genres, like prog, power, black, thrash, and death. Extreme metal for the sophisticated and intelligent? Well maybe, but there's no denying that Mercenary are on to something here that has potential to appeal to more than just the extreme crowd. "Year of the Plague" has some of the best melodies and harmonies that you will hear anywhere in metal, with Mikkel Sandager's vocals just pouring emotion over beds of keyboards and lurching power chords, before the screaming yet effective growls kick in to turn things up a notch. Like anthems? Well, "My World is Ending" is a driving and addicting prog-metal opus with plenty of keys and crunchy guitar riffs, as well as Sandager's hook laden vocal harmonies. The same can be said for "Redefine Me", a real catchy metal gem that sees the band firing on all cylinders.

The power metal fury of "This Eternal Instant" contains plenty of white hot dual guitar riffery from Buss and JakobMolbjerg, while drummer Mike Park flails away like a madman. One of the two 8-minute plus pieces, "Lost Reality", kicks off with searing synthesizer passages from Morten Sandager, taking the song through an epic progressive metal ride complete with intricate guitar textures and layers of vocal styles. It's another song that is just impossible to tear yourself away from. For out and out heaviness, there's the grinding stomp of "Soul Decision", the complex "Obscure Indiscretion" (a must for Dream Theater & Symphony X fans), the melodic death metal of "My Secret Window", and the soaring, epic journey that is the title track.

So, The Hours That Remain can easily be called one of the best releases so far in 2006. With the year more than half over, I'm sure there will be other winners that we have yet to hear, but Mercenary have once again come up with an outstanding album that is going to be hard to top. Is stardom ahead for these Danish metal stallions? Time will tell, but for now, this one is 4.5 stars...give me a month, and it might make it to a 5.

Along with Communic and Scar Symmetry's latest releases, this is one of the strongest melodic extreme metal albums of the year, and highly recommended.

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