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“The Hours That Remain” by Mercenary

Artist: Mercenary
Title: “The Hours That Remain”
Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: 8/22/2006
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rating: 5/5

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.
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“11 Dreams” by Mercenary

Artist: Mercenary
Title: “11 Dreams”
Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: 2/8/05
Genre: Progressive Death Metal
Rating: 9/10

Every so often a Metal band comes along with a CD that could possibly change the direction and level of quality in the genre. With the release of “11 Dreams” on Century Media Records; Mercenary has proved themselves to be one such band. As you listen to this piece you will find yourself surrounded by a wide variety of textures and feels. Is it Black? Is it Progressive? Is it Traditional? To be honest there is a fine mix of all these aspects of the Metal genre which makes it very difficult to define under one label or criteria. After a brooding keyboard intro the game is on with “World Hate Center” which thunders in guitar and drumming and even in one’s living room or desk at the office you will find the fist raised in Metal support. Taking a page from the Soilwork book the guys in Mercenary use two vocal styles to some positive effect. Most of the piece is growled through by bassist Kral yet the clean and powerful voice of Mikkel Sandager take you through the darkness. At times Mikkel reminded me of Midnight from Crimson Glory with his pure and passionate vocal lines. There are a lot of strong musical expressions on the CD and I admit that my very favorite tracks comprised the earliest section of the record. “11 Dreams” and “Firesoul” are excellent and in each of them the band performs admirably. These guys are a talented bunch and it’s clear from this album. After this offering I feel that we are only seeing the start of what the group is capable of. It’s the kind of band that fans of Soilwork might really enjoy because it is very in your face like they are yet they also venture off into different musical feels that one does not always find in a Heavy Metal band. The use of keyboard is impressive and the appearance of them on top of the big harmonies the band introduces in choruses brings a lot of these songs to life very well. Keyboards are delivered with finesse by Mikkels Brother Morten. There are a couple of epic numbers running at 7 and 8 minutes each and the band does not get boring in them by any stretch of the imagination. One sometimes dreads the extended artistic expression for it can lose something by being too long. Time seems to fly by in the case of Mercenary.
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