Mercenary - _The Hours That Remain_
(Century Media, 2006)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (
There are some bands that are imaginative and talented enough that
their music defies strict categorization and brushes tags off with the
nonchalance of a real artist.The fourth album from the Danish super group that surprised everyone
and your granny a couple of years ago with the near perfect _11
Dreams_ now sees them not only meeting the high standards they set
with it, but surpassing them in every imaginable way. _The Hours That
Remain_ is a tour de force of an album. Dynamic yet subtle. Gripping
yet casual. Powerful and imposing, yet emotional and detailed. Having
changed their singer, I was afraid that the new material would lose
the magnetic voice of the predecessor; but if anything, Mikkel
Sandager is an even better vocalist. This is his album and he drives
it with passion. As in earlier albums, Mercenary play metal music that
has a purpose, that tells a story, even though this is not a concept
album. There are certain lyrics and certain riffs and motifs that are
repeated throughout to make the listening experience that of a
complete piece of work, rather than individual songs crammed together
one after the other.Unlike their previous albums, _The Hours That Remain_ requires several
listens in order to be absorbed, as it is a more complex entity.
"Redefine Me" is a great opener that sets the mood for the rest of the
album, whereas "My World Is Ending" sees the first repetition of
themes. The tempo is rather more muted this time, as is the
production, but it all works towards a more concise and tight effort.
"Simplicity Demand" acts as a more straightforward and dynamic break
towards the middle of the album, and the album-titled final track sums
up the atmosphere, even ending with a piano and voice over some
static. You won't find many traditional solos in here, as the music
seems to be a vehicle for the vocals; and with three members providing
them, from clean singing to more death metal hoarse voices, one thing
the album is not short of is variety and experimentation.Mercenary deserve praise not only for their talent and musicianship,
but for the simple fact that they create music that is involving and
evolving. The more times you listen to _The Hours That Remain_, the
more little gems you will find in the songs. The band allows you to
choose how to listen to the album: as a backdrop to other activities
that from time to time demands your attention, or as an absorbing
experience that consumes you. In any case, there are so few albums
that have the capacity to do this that it would be a crime to let it
slip through your audio radar. Magnificent.
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