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4.12 | 8 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2006


1. Redefine Me (6:06)
2. Year of the Plague (5:29)
3. My World Is Ending (5:26)
4. This Eternal Instant (6:10)
5. Lost Reality (8:02)
6. Soul Decision (5:03)
7. Simplicity Demand (6:35)
8. Obscure Indiscretion (4:46)
9. My Secret Window (6:29)
10. The Hours That Remain (8:07)

Total Time: 62:17


- Mikkel Sandager / Vocals
- Jakob Mølbjerg / Guitars
- Martin Buus / Guitars
- Morten Sandager / Keyboards
- Mike Park / Drums

Guest musicians:
- Jacob Hansen / Bass
- Björn "Speed" Strid / Vocals (on "Redefine Me")
- Marcus Bischoff / Vocals (on "Soul Decision")

About this release

Full-length, Century Media Records, August 21st, 2006

All songs written and arranged by Mercenary.
All lyrics by Mikkel and Morten Sandager.

Limited edition bonus DVD:
01. Firesoul (Video Edit Version) (04:56)
02. Intro/Redestructdead (Live Dynamo 2005) (05:45)
03. Firesoul (Live Dynamo 2005) (08:04)
04. Intro/World Hate Center (Live Dynamo 2005) (06:45)
05. 11 Dreams (Live Dynamo 2005) (08:20)
06. Intro/Redestructdead (Live Pratten 2006) (06:18)
07. Firesoul (Live Pratten 2006) (08:27)
08. Sharpen the Edges (Live Pratten 2006) (05:42)
09. Into The Sea/World Hate Center (Live Pratten 2006) (06:51)
10. 11 Dreams (Live Pratten 2006) (08:18)

Also includes a "making of" documentary directed by the band.

Thanks to UMUR, Diogenes for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Everyone loves a good underdog story, yeah? In 2004, Mercenary released one of the most original melodic death metal albums ever in 11 Dreams, garnering a hell of a lot of praise for both their excellent musicianship and unique take on the genre. That was all fine and good, but founding member Henrik “Kral” Andersen up and left the band shortly thereafter, essentially killing both hope for an album in the same vein and any death metal aspects the band had. Nevertheless, Mercenary continued on, reinventing their sound to create and album even better than its predecessor. The Hours that Remain is, quite simply, the finest metal album that both Denmark and the melodic death metal genre have to offer.

Let me get something out of the way first. The term “melodeath” is a bit of a misnomer when talking about this album, since most straight-up death metal influences flew out the door with Kral while it was being written. However, the heavy riffage and occasional screaming combined with its connections to 11 Dreams keeps the tag hanging on by a thread, and that’s good enough for me.

So, what makes The Hours that Remain so great is that it’s nearly impossible to pick out any one instrument at any time. What I mean by this is that Mercenary plays metal that’s geared towards a wall of sound, rather than just a lead being played over a riff. Sure, there are technically “leads” and solos, but they fit into the equation in a way that I have never heard before. Every single melody, drum fill, synth effect, and so on are all part of a carefully crafted atmosphere that is both heavy and soothing, aggressive and beautiful, crushing and delicate. There isn’t a lot of technicality being thrown at you, but c’mon…is that really needed?

The cherry on top of the ice cream in this case is without a doubt vocalist Mikkel Sandager. This is one of the greatest vocal performances in metal history. I’m not kidding! What the man does on this album is nothing short of magic. His voice is distinguishable. He can hit amazingly high notes with ease, while sounding nothing like a chipmunk on helium. His vocals are powerful and full of emotion, a stark contrast to all of the sterile boy-band garbage that’s making more and more of an appearance in metal. The melodies are far beyond catchy. Every single individual accolade I can hand out is well-deserved here, and yet the best part of Sandager’s vocals is the way that they are layered to act in conjunction with the rest of the band. It’s like his singing is both the center of attention and part of the atmosphere at the same time; so simple in concept, but so damn rewarding.

If there’s one flaw to this five-equals-one approach, it’s how much it’s drawn out; Hours clocks in (HA!...anyone?...okay, fine) at just over an hour, which is a little long for just ten tracks. But hang on a second…when listening to this album, it’s impossible to get bored. I swear. Even though the tracks all might sound alike at first, there are hooks running amok to keep your attention past the first, fifth, and hundredth listens. Take the album’s main cut, Lost Reality, for a spin: 8 minutes, but not a single moment where you’re inclined to turn it off. Hook, buildup, climax, repeat…again and again and again. Why can’t more metal bands do stuff like this?!

The final piece of the puzzle comes not from Mercenary, but from producer Jacob Hansen. Okay, he did play bass on this album in lieu of a full-time four-stringer, but his engineering makes Hours what it is. The guitars are thick, the keyboards add rather than take away, and all of those layered vocals couldn’t have been mixed any better. Go go Denmark metal posse!

Every time, it’s the same old story: metal bands that focus on writing good songs while playing as a band yield the best results. I’m almost getting sick of writing stuff like that. I feel like some sort of deranged preacher. But for music like this, it’s totally worth it. The Hours that Remain started off good, got better, and has not stopped rising in my collection of favorites; truly a masterpiece in every sense of the word.

Re-wrote review 10/7/11 to justify my increased rating, and because I hated the old one.
The Hours That Remain is the 4th full-length studio album by Danish melodic metal act Mercenary. The album was released in August 2006 by Century Media Records. There´s been a notable lineup change since the release of 11 Dreams (2004) as Kral ( growling vocals and bass) have left Mercenary. This has a significant impact on the sound on The Hours That Remain. As the band didn´t manage to find a suitable replacement before the recording of the album, producer Jacob Hansen recorded all bass parts on The Hours That Remain.

The music on the album is melodic and quite epic metal. A kind of power metal/ melodeath hybrid. Because of Kral´s departure from the band, there are no death growls on The Hours That Remain though and lead "clean" vocalist Mikkel Sandager is given a lot of room. He has a dominant role on this album. He has a strong voice and is a skilled vocalist, so the fact that he has taken over most of the vocals ( there are a couple of songs with guests vocalists who provide harsher type vocals. Björn Strid from Soilwork is one of them) isn´t necessarily a minus. Personally I miss the variation that Kral´s growls gave the music but I´m sure that´s an aquired taste. The music is generally very melodic and synth heavy. Strong melodies and a wall of epic harder edged power metal. The album is very consistent and all songs are quality compositions allthough I think they sound a bit too much the same. A bit of variation wouldn´t have hurt. It´s only after several listens that I´m beginning to be able to tell all the songs apart. There are of course instantly memorable tracks like the opening Redefine Me and the strong My World Is Ending on the album but there are also too many tracks that lacks the memorability factor.

The production by Jacob Hansen is very polished and clean. The sound suits the music well.

The Hours That Remain is a quality power metal/ melodeath album and there´s no doubt that the album at least deserves a 3.5 star rating. The fact that not enough songs stand out is a minor problem though and that´s why I won´t give a full 4 star rating. It´s a very consistent album though.

Members reviews

Mercenary’s 2006 release demonstrates improving abilities both in terms of musicianship and songwriting compared to the previous release “11 Dreams". Lead singer Mikkel Sandager deserves a special mention because his vocal melodies and his soaring vocals define the Mercenary sound. There are a number of stand-out tracks on this album; the two “epic” tracks “Lost Reality” (8:02) and the title track (8:07) show almost progressive tendencies and “My World is Ending” demonstrates the band’s ability to write catchy songs without losing the oomph. “Soul Decision” never fails to send shivers down my spine and the song works wonders in a live setting as well. Mercenary would go on to improve their ability and musicianship even further on the 2008 release “The Architect of Lies” but this release is impressive in its own way and it definitely belongs on the shelf or hard drive of fans of melodic death metal.

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