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One crammed album, this... - 70%

Lane, July 28th, 2011

This third full length album from Danish band Mercenary is often praised as a masterpiece in melodic death metal genre. However, the genre this belongs to isn't melodic death metal, but something like a mixture of it and power metal. Yeah, it is melodic, but no, it's not rough.

The overtly dramatic gothic intro leads to 'World Hate Center'. This song includes big orchestrations under 1990's In Flames style guitar work, so the gothic atmosphere continues. And the song's chorus is very, very close to Ozzy Osbourne's hit 'Perry Mason'! Annoyingly triggered drums are mixed very loud, and when the keyboard-generated orchestrations are happening, the sound gets clogged fast. It gets painful to listen to the album, simply because it sounds like it is too filled with artificial sounding instruments; the plagues of modern metal music production. A little saving element comes in form of vocalist Mikkel Sandager (nowadays no more in the band), whose clean voice is very powerful and unique, too. He doesn't remind me of any other metal music vocalist, but Nevermore's Warrel Dane and his contorting voice is the closest example I can think of. There are also "demonically" schreeched growling heard here and there around the album, plus beautiful, mewing voice of Monika Pedersen (Sinphonia, ex-Sirenia). The lyrics are almost totally ignorable.

The title track is one of the few highlights of the album. It is much more characteristic when compared to the opener, mostly because Mr. Sandager gets more space on it. Gothic meets pop music, performed by a metal band. It's not quite poppy as, say, To/Die/For. The clean vocals continue to reign in 'reDestructDead', and therefore the song ends up being another characteristic song, but more upbeat. 'Firesoul' is an Evergrey style Gothenburg goth/power metal song, and with its 7 and a half minutes of duration, is just too long, even though there is a lot of variety towards its end. 'Sharpen the Edges' must be a tribute to King Diamond, although it doesn't reach similar eerie atmospheres, not even close. In 'Supremacy v2.0' clash prog metal, Machine Head style groovy stuff, and Gothenburg metal, in a functioning way, so the album gets back on a better track. This time around, over 8-minute duration doesn't feel too long at all.

But what happens next? 'Music Non Stop' happens. Does that ring any bells? Maybe not, but it's a pop band Kent's original... This is one stupid thing to do: Inserting a cover song somewhere between own songs on an album. Okay, I've heard much, much worse covers, and I've always liked how metal bands take a song from some other musical style and make it harder. 'Falling' fixes that downswing fast, as its post-thrash and Mikkel Sandager's vocals simply work, again lifting up those characteristics of the band. 'Times without Changes' is a shortish piano-cum-vocals piece, feeling out of content. 'Loneliness' is, fortunately, another song in which the Mercenary's characteristics are in dominant demonstration.

'11 Dreams' provides some fine moments, if you like melodic yet heavy metal like In Flames meet Evergrey meet several other modern things... Metal music should be heavy, yes, but the crammed production of '11 Dreams' cause me headache, at least spiritually. Too much is too much, simple as that! The song arrangements do not always work out well, so there are several skippable moments. This album has been on and off my trade list, but when I decided to listen to it again, and then review it, it still has a place in my music collection. '11 Dreams' is a good one, but it could have been so much more.