Mercenary - _Everblack_
by: Adam Lineker (
This Hammerheart release seems to have more guts and power than the usual. Sporting a hard-edged guitar sound alike to that of In Flames, they thrash out strains of melodic death. The harmonic constructions are also decidedly In Flames-ish, as are the metal riffs. Mercenary play with a crunch and bassy pulse alongside twin vocal parts, the bassist providing the distorted vocals and the high-pitched metal vocalist also performing his role adequately. Keyboards occasionally emerge to fill out the background, adding more layers of sound whilst impressive guitar runs and metal harmonies take their place at the forefront. The choruses seem to be the focus of the more emotive progressions and harmonies. These central passages are surrounded by generic metal riffing and themed with entirely metal concepts. The music is let down by the length of the individual songs -- they are too drawn out and the unremarkable nature of the riffage make this un-absorbing. The melodic progressions feel similar and overused with the guitar soloing usually standing out more. The lead licks have emotive strains that verge on being over the top but then again, this is metal. It is easy to knock this band for being highly derivative of In Flames, especially as they lack an absorbing feel. The riffs are well performed and musically complex but they don't break barriers or grab hold of you. And there is a degree of repetitiveness. The mood is either aggressive and dark or dark and melancholic but this album is rather un-progressive. Most of the phrasing is rather generic and similar and though it maintains the same level of intensity, once you are used to the impact of the riffs, you don't feel much more throughout the album. "Screaming From the Heavens" and "Bloodrush" have more about them; the former has one of the better instrumental runs of the work. "Dead.com" erupts out of the closing piano figure of "Screaming..." and that works well but the minute this album catches your attention, it lets it go before it can engross you. With the musicianship on display, the quality of this album is disappointing. The riffs are churned out with enthusiasm and for the most part they avoid sounding cheesy, but unfortunately they don't quite grasp that all-important infusion of excitement and inventiveness that I find so necessary to metal. Only with improved songwriting could comparisons to In Flames become a positive thing.
(article published 9/1/2002)
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