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Originally Mercenary were a mix of melodic death metal and thrash. Over time they evolved into a more power metal and melodic death metal mix. On Metamorphosis they also add a little bit of metalcore as well. This Danish band has in the past put out some pretty decent albums so what did they come up with for Metamorphosis?
Alright so the metalcore influence becomes most apparent when listening to the guitar riffs. On Through the Eyes of the Devil it is plainly obvious the band has taken a hint of the choppy sort of guitar play a lot of the melodic metalcore bands use and did their own thing with it. It doesn't significantly effect their sound but there is a bit more chug chug chug guitar parts here. The melodies are pretty sweet to the ear as well. But while a lot of the songs are pretty easy to listen to there are parts where the band shows more muscle. In A River of Madness has a part near the middle that practically breaks into symphonic death metal which is totally unexpected but completely awesome.
Vocally the band traded in two separate vocalists for just one. Rene Pedersen does both the harsh and clean singing on Metamorphosis and its a strong effort. He has a deeper voice when singing but can hit the high notes when its necessary. I also enjoy the screams/growls he does. He does a more normal sounding growl in between high and low and a higher one also.
Most of these songs range from decent to pretty good. The album opener while showing more metalcore like tendencies is memorable, and in a good way. As is most of the album. The first four tracks are especially good. The Follower has a nice break in the middle where it slows down and builds back up. In A River of Madness has the awesome symphonic section, and Memoria is full of excellent guitar riffing that has melody on steroids.
Now all those positives being said, the album has a couple of lemons. Shades of Gray is the poppy all clean sung song that every melodeath album seems to have. Its pretty boring and all the aggression and feeling is missing because its obvious this song was made for something resembling a single as its much more easy to listen to for those who don't enjoy singing. The Black Brigade is another strange addition to the album. The chorus has an almost sleazy rock feel to it and the whole song sounds a bit out of place being upbeat almost like a party song.
Metamorphosis is a pretty decent album and while its not exactly what a lot of Mercenary fans might be expecting I think fans of melodic metal in general would enjoy it. Rene has a strong vocal performance and most of the songs are unique, so you will probably never mistake one track for another. This isn't a good thing in the case of a few songs but it is what it is. All in all pick this up if you're into melody over dissonance, you'll get the most bang for your buck.
Originally reviewed @ http://abaddonsmetalshop.blogspot.com/
As a person who enjoys, and respects when a band takes risks, and experiments, or does a slight changes to their style every once in a while, I dug this album for the most part. Many good bands have messed around with changing their style at some point, whether it was a small change, or a huge change. Paradise Lost, Napalm Death, Firewind, Lazarus A.D., Celtic Frost, Corrosion of Conformity, Darkthrone, and Tiamat have all released great albums that had some changes in their style.
Napalm Death going from their straight grindcore style on "From Enslavement to Obliteration" to the classic death metal album "Harmony Corruption". Corrosion of Conformity going from crossover thrashing on "Animosity" to the genre pigeonhole destroying album "Blind". Darkthrone going from raw black metal to a more crust punk/speed metal sound. Celtic Frost going from the extreme metal style on "Morbid Tales", and "To Mega Therion" to the avant garde metal album "Into the Pandemonium", to the shameful mess that was "Cold Lake", to the more thrash based "Vanity/Nemesis", to the awesome gothic/doom metal album that is "Monotheist".......I think you get where I'm going with this by now......hahaha
Like I said, I love it when bands take chances, and change up their sound, whether it's good, or horribly band(....like Cold Lake....). I was pleased to hear that Mercenary switched it up a bit. I will say this album isn't as good as "Architect of Lies", "11 Dreams", or "Everblack", but I do think it kicks the crap out of "The Hours That Remain". (I don't know why, but I've always hated that album)
The album kick off with "Through the Eyes of the Devil" which has a pretty decent intro with a short build up. Rene does his normal hardcore-ish sounding vocals, then he does some shrieking and death growls, and then the chorus hits and he shows that he can sing similar to Mikkel. Which was my biggest concern about this album since Mikkel left the band. I thought Rene would just do the hardcore-ish sounding harsh vocals he usually does, and It would get old really fast, but I was totally wrong. I really liked that track. Then, "The Follower" which is a good song, but not one of the better ones off the album. It has it's moments, but for the most part it's just there, IMO. Still a good listen though."Memoria" is one the songs I find myself listening to a lot. It shows that Rene is a great singer, and can do both clean, and harsh vocals well, but he is obviously not a Christian Alvestam. But, I do think the fact that Rene does those vocals, and plays bass at the same time, makes him go a little bit higher in the talent dept, since you don't see Alvestam do that. It's just an overall nice mid-paced melodic song.
"In Bloodred Shades" is a song I listen too a bit. It has a good mix of clean and harsh vocals. "On The Edge of Sanity" was the 1st song of the album I listened to, and right a way it became one of my favorite tracks on the album. I noticed right away that Rene displayed a lot more vocal ability then the other albums he was on. Not as one dimensional, but I already pointed that one when I talked about "Through the Eyes of the Devil". It's a catchy song. Even though the chorus does repeat a little too much, IMO. It's still an awesome song. "The Black Brigade" is a love song about how he won't commit suicide, because he love he/she so much. I used to HATE love songs, until I got into the band Norther, and heard their song "Omen". I really like this song. IMO, it stands out a bit over the other songs.
If you got the American version of the album, like I did, you get a bonus track called "Incorporate Your Demons", which is my favorite track on the album. I don't get why it was bonus, it should have been on all versions of the album. Same with "Death Connection" on "Architect of Lies". This song does somewhat sound like an All That Remains song during the chorus. Only because of the vocals somewhat sound like Phil Labonte's clean vocals, during that part.
It's not their best, but it's pretty good. IMO, people expected way to much out of this album. They just had a major line-up change so you can't expect them to release something super epic.
Tracks I really liked:
Incorporate Your Demons
On The Edge of Sanity
The Black Brigade
Through the Eyes of the Devil
Tracks I didn't care for:
I'm not great at doing reviews, but I thought I'd post a positive review, since I enjoyed this album overall. I honestly don't give a damn if an album has a more commercial/mainstream sound to it. I'm a pretty open minded person toward most music, so that sh*t doesn't bother me.
I know this is pretty contradicting since I'm typing up a review, but don't let a negative review get in your way of listening to an album you've been wanting to listen too. Obviously, reviews are 100% based on opinion, so don't let others opinions change yours. If you like an album, you like it.....end of story.
----------------Originally written for: www.headbangers.in -------------------
One of this year’s personally highly anticipated releases, few albums will mark such a historically unfortunate turning point for a band as much as Mercenary’s ‘Metamorphosis’. It’s plunge in musical quality can be compared to that of Metallica’s ‘Load’. A drastic line-up change has turned an erstwhile sextet of innovators into a quartet of comfort zone victims.
The album begins with a beautiful twinkling keyboard echo, the beginning of ’Through the Eyes of the Devil’. Immediately, the over-distorted guitar mirror of the tune completely sucks the abstraction out of the song and plunges you into a series of over-produced chugs. While they do sound good, they sound like something you hear from every new Scar Symmetry impersonator out there. That’s where Mercenary’s songwriting has now gone. The breakdowns are a staple, the keyboard-guitar integration is non-existent, the drum beats are by-the-book and the vocals sound like Chester Bennington is singing. However, there are attempts (sparsely successful though) at using the Mercenary aesthetic. There are a few sections where the heavy riffs are not just blatant metalcore reproductions but meaningful structures. There are songs like ‘The Follower’ and ‘In a River of Madness’ where the mood shows through the riffs. It does so more heavily on ‘Velvet Lies’, which actually retains quite a good melancholy mood.
Alas, such moments of heavy melancholy brilliance are rare throughout the album. The entire album sounds like a pale shadow of what Mercenary sounded like on ’11 Dreams’ and ‘The Hours that Remain’. Even the previous album, ‘Architect of Lies’, an album that was a bit more removed from the powerful sound on previous albums, sounds like a masterpiece compared to ‘Metamorphosis’. There is not a single epic on this album, not one song that could stand out and become a concert staple. The band has ‘metamorphosed’ into a regular alternative-rock driven melodic death metal band, a very regular sound that does not inspire anything. The greatest line-up that this band ever had was the one on 11 Dreams, after which the really heavy harsh vocals had to be compromised yet the songwriting did not. Now, after firing 3 key members, there is no expansive vocal spectrum, they keys are not innovative symphonies nor are they electronic arpeggio masterpieces anymore and the drumming is less than spectacular. If you are new to the band and this is the first album you hear by them, expect a pleasant surprise when you hear the back catalogue. If you like the new Children of Bodom, In Flames and Soilwork albums, jump right into this one.
When you look at the course of Mercenary's career up to this point, it was inevitable that they were veering towards the creation of the consummate pop melodeath record, and with Metamorphosis, their 6th full-length, I feel that the moment has finally arrived. They have cemented their position as the Danish Killswitch Engage, with a roster of songs that I might have mistaken for Justin Bieber or Fallout Boy had the guitars not been so heavy, or René Pedersen's voice been far more powerful. Yes, this is an album that marries the Swedish influenced melodic death/thrash guitars with crystal clear vocals, rasped Tomas Lindberg outbreaks, hardcore death grunts, flighty synthesizers and the most modern, polished production values one could wish for (or fear) in the entire metal world.
Have you run away yet? If not, you're probably resolute that this is another Mercenary record. It's not a whole lot different than its predecessor Architect of Lies, an album I enjoyed, but it takes the pop readiness to a level I'm not totally comfortable with. It's just cleaner. Spiffier. A metrosexual metal album, through and through. It has cover art that looks like a bad tattoo, and a new logo which at the very least is superior to that generic font they'd been using for years. But it's not entirely void of value and intensity if you enjoyed its predecessor, in particular the song "On the Edge of Sanity" which features some sleek, thundering guitar riffs beneath the swirl of the keyboards, and a pretty sweet breakdown, if you're not opposed to having them in your melodic death pop. A few other tracks have their moments: "Velvet Lies" is Romantic and morose, "In Bloodred Shades" pounds along with drippy diligence, and "In a River of Madness" comes the closest to the Swedish/At the Gates-influences at the root of this group.
I've certainly appreciated a few albums of this type before, namely Architect of Lies and the last album from another Danish band, Raunchy (Wasteland Discoteque) which was comparable, but in the end I wasn't feeling Metamorphosis all that much. The material here is precise, the riffs reasonably plotted, and René has a pretty impressive voice that could have served him in a non-metal career, but I feel that the band's commercial flourishes have just taken them into a space I don't care to follow, where chugging breakdowns, pianos and bubblegum reign hand in hand. For what it is, it's pretty well done, and but apart from 2-3 of the more raging songs I don't see myself ever having the inspiration to listen through it anymore. But if you're a steadfast follower of the more pop-inclined efforts from Dark Tranquillity, In Flames and Soilwork, like Stabbing the Drama, you might find something to it.