Album Reviews

Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days Review

mercenary_cover

Released By: Noise Art Records

Release Date: July 26, 2013

Genre: Metal

Links: http://www.mercenary.dk/

 

Line Up:

René Pedersen – Vocals, Bass

Jakob Mølbjerg – Guitar

Martin Buus – Guitar, Keyboard

Peter Mathiesen – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. A New Dawn

2. Welcome To Sickness

3. Through Our Darkest Days

4. Dreamstate Machine

5. A Moment Of Clarity

6. Beyond This Night

7. Starving Eyes

8. Generation Hate

9. Forever The Unknown

10. Holding On To Serenity

 

Over the past few years Danish band Mercenary have gone through some serious challenges, with a major overhaul of their lineup in 2009 leading to a completely different sound on their most recent release Metamorphosis, which had small traces of the melodic elements found on their previous works, but pushed the band in a definite metalcore direction, particularly with René Pedersen’s harsh vocals. That album was actually my introduction to the band, and I was quite impressed by the energy and intensity of the music, while being instantly blown away by Pedersen’s excellent range and how he expertly balanced out his aggressive harsh vocals with very calm and pleasant clean vocals. Over time I came to appreciate The Hours That Remain even more, but I was still very excited to see what the band would come up with next.

Their latest album is called Through Our Darkest Days, which seems to be a reference to all the struggles they had gone through before Metamorphosis, and how they managed to get through it as strong as ever, and throughout the album there’s definitely a much lighter feeling to the music. Which isn’t to say they’ve lost all their aggression, because that would be completely untrue. But both musically and lyrically, the material here is much more balanced thematically in comparison to the previous release, with songs like ‘A New Dawn”, the title track and ‘Beyond This Night” being fairly upbeat and hopeful, which is a nice change of pace from the typical lyrics in more extreme types of metal.

The most surprising thing about this album is probably the vocals: René is still as impressive as before, if not even better, but his delivery isn’t always what you’d expect. In fact, I’d say much less than half of his vocals are screamed, and even then a lot of those screams are much more restrained and less aggressive than on Metamorphosis. For the most part he sticks to clean vocals, which instantly gives this a different feel from any other Mercenary album I’ve heard, as while clean vocals have always been an important part of their music, they’ve never been quite as dominant as they are on this album. To me this is actually a good thing, as for one it gives the album a more unique sound, but more important than that, René simply excels when singing cleanly, as both his higher more powerful voice and his more calm voice are absolute dynamite.

On the whole, Through Our Darkest Days strikes a nice balance between bringing back the more melodic elements of their earlier albums, while still maintaining some of the more extreme elements found on Metamorphosis, which has led to an album that at times hearkens back to their early days while still pushing them even further into a new, more modern style. An example of this is “Dreamstate Machine”, which mixes together some of the best and most aggressive riffs on the album, with a very nice and melodic chorus where the clean vocals shine through. I’d say this is probably their most accessible album I’ve heard so far, and that at times it has somewhat of a commercial feel, especially with the clean vocals, but it’s still quite heavy throughout and it still definitely feels like a Mercenary album.

I was instantly impressed as soon as I heard the opening guitar riffs and keyboard melodies of the opening track “A New Dawn”, and while that song took no time in becoming one of my favorites, with its hooks its instantly catchy melodies, the whole album is excellent and probably the most consistently entertaining Mercenary album I’ve heard so far. The metalcore elements are still there in doses, with most of the harsh vocals especially sounding more similar to core screams than to death growls, but on the whole this album is more melodic than the band has been in a very long time. With how far they’ve taken their music at this point, I honestly wouldn’t call it anything other than modern metal, as it feels like a blend of all the different elements they’ve had in the past, but mixed together in such a way that it manages to sound fresh. It’s hard to explain, but it should become obvious when listening to the album for the first time.

Songs like “Welcome To Sickness” and the aforementioned “Dreamstate Machine” show off their aggressive side, while the title track, “Beyond This Night” and ‘Holding On To Serenity” show how much the band has matured over time, and how calm and beautiful their music can be at this stage in their career. But perhaps my favorite song is “Generation Hate”, which shows the band at their angriest, but in a much more focused and melodically balanced way than expected, with the chorus and the instrumental section in the middle being the highlight of one intense and unforgettable song.

When I first read that this would be closer to older Mercenary albums while still containing elements of their newer releases, I was wondering how they could possibly pull it all together to create an album worthy of their name. Thankfully, they have delivered beyond my expectations and Through Our Darkest Days is an amazing album that should please fans of both of their older and newer material, while at the same time bringing a refreshing new sound that’s sure to lead to more greatness in the future.

 

 

Written by Travis

Ratings    Travis    9/10

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