MERCENARY — Metamorphosis (review)

MERCENARY — Metamorphosis album cover Album · 2011 · Melodic Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
I don't get it.

How does a band go through so many key lineup changes and still make such great music? The Mercenary name must be cursed or something. A good curse. Y'know, like King Midas.

When I heard that Mikkel, Morten, and Mike had all left the band around November of 2009, I was pretty bummed. "The Hours That Remain" is one of my favorite metal albums of all time, and "Architect of Lies" is nothing to sneeze at, either. With three tremendously talented musicians splitting from Denmark's finest metal band, I had serious doubts about Mercenary's ability to continue. But here, the band shows that they can keep pumping out killer metal no matter how many lineup changes they go through.

So, what's the secret? This time around, it's Rene Pedersen. I was skeptical about his vocal talents; his shouts on "Architect" were good but somewhat out of place, as the band’s effort to recreate the vocal magic of “11 Dreams” only resulted in the “This band is nothing without Kral” crowd tripling in size. Naturally, replacing a vocalist such as Mikkel on his own was something I didn't think Rene could do. Bluntly, I was dead wrong. He fits the band’s sound like a glove. This man can scream, sing, growl, grunt, shriek, whatever you'd want in a metal vocalist. I, and many others, had no idea what he was holding back on "Architect". Mercenary is in good hands with him as their frontman.

As for the rest of the band, well, it's what we've come to expect. Jakob Molbjerg and Martin Buus are both fantastic and versatile guitarists, with endless melodies flowing from their instruments. Both technically skilled and creative, these two have cemented their position as one of modern metal's top guitar duos. On the drums, Morten Lowe’s death metal-filled background flourishes, most notably on faster tracks like “On The Edge of Sanity”. His style is different than Mike Park’s, but in this case change is good…very good.

As expected, the overall sound has changed a bit. It’s definitely heavier compared to past Mercenary works, with the keyboards taking a back seat here, but those fearing a metalcore album will be relieved to hear the traditional Mercenary style: plenty of hooks, catchy melodies, and powerful choruses. Extremely powerful choruses. Seriously, they’re golden. You’ll be humming a few of these for weeks after listening to this album. Anywho, the variety here is a pleasant surprise. Songs like “Memoria” and “Velvet Lies” feature both poppish verses and choruses and some brutal riffing later on. After the somewhat streamlined sound of “Architect”, it’s good to hear just how many good ideas this band still has.

As you might have guessed, the songs are great. There is little filler here, maybe with the exception of “The Black Brigade”, a Megadeth-esque song that doesn’t seem to be an ideal album closer, and “Shades of Gray”, which is just a little too poppy for my tastes. Otherwise, everything on “Metamorphosis” is extremely solid. “Through the Eyes of the Devil” gave me the same feeling that “New Desire” did when I first listened to “Architect”…the “yes, this album is gonna kick ass” feeling. “The Follower” is unlike anything Mercenary has ever done. “Memoria” is my personal favorite, with an excellent vocal performance from Rene and plenty of unforgettable melodies.

There isn’t much more to be said. Just look at the album cover and the title, and you’ll get a good idea of what is going on here. Mercenary has added yet another gem to a discography full of them. 4 stars
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