Denmark's Mercenary have been on quite a roll these last few years, with stellar releases like 11 Dreams and The Hours That Remain gaining plenty of positive press and acclaim, yet we never seem to hear them mentioned alongside other well known melodic extreme metal acts like In Flames, Dark Tranquility, Children of Bodom, Soilwork, and Arch Enemy. Hopefully that will all change with their latest release Architect of Lies, a CD that is essentially their third home run in a row. Taking cues from European melodic death metal, power metal, and even a little progressive metal, Architect of Lies includes all of the trademark Mercenary characterists; hook-laden melodies, soaring clean vocals, monstrous death growls, chugging guitar riffs, layers of keyboards, and crushing rhythms. It's a formula that has worked well for the band their entire career, and there seems to be no stopping them.
On the first few spins, Architect of Lies might seem a bit too similar to its two predecessors, but after repeated listens all the memorable melodies start to take shape, the ripping guitar solos from Martin Buus grab you by the throat, the impressive death growls of new bass player Rene Pedersen pummel you into submission, the powerful wailing of Mikkel Sandager reminds you just what a good lead metal singer he is, and the tightness of the band really impresses on all levels. By song number three, "Embrace The Nothing", the band really hooks you in, Sandager's soaring clean passages and aggressive screams tripled up with Pedersen's growls for a huge multi-layered vocal attack, and the keyboards of Morten Sandager providing a symphonic template for Buus and his melodic guitar work. In a CD filled with highlights, other notable tracks include the powerhouse riff monster "This Black And Endless Never" (including some killer drum work from Mike Park), the irresistable "Isolation (The Loneliness In December)", a haunting piece with gorgeous piano melodies, crunchy riffs, and great vocals, the brutal death metal number "The Endless Fall", and the slighty industrial & proggy "Execution Style". Truth be told, there's not a weak track here, each one standing well enough on its own, showing a band that is on top of their game in a big way.
It seems to be a question to ask of each Mercenary release-is it better then the previous album? Well, both 11 Dreams and The Hours That Remain were absolutely spectacular in my book, and Architect of Lies is no different. I'll let you decide how it stacks up, but in reality, each one is worthy of having a spot in your metal collection.
Now, if we can only get Century Media to bring Mercenary over here to the US for some live shows...
01. New Desire
03. Embrace The Nothing
04. This Black And Endless Never
05. Isolation (The Loneliness In December)
06. The Endless Fall
07. Black And Hollow
08. Execution Style
09. I Am Lies
10. Public Failure Number One