Mercenary - The Hours That Remain
Century Media
Melodic Metal
10 songs (1:02:13)
Release year: 2006
Mercenary, Century Media
Reviewed by Kayla

Quick, pop quiz. When is a concept album not a concept album? When it’s an album not based around a central story, but one which sees recurring snatches of lyrics throughout, creating a sense of unity while still retaining musical and conceptual diversity. This is what Mercenary have done with their fourth album, The Hours That Remain. The returning phrases are set out in the opening track, Redefine Me; among other things, “the hours that remain” and “falling through my secret window” (My Secret Window being the name of the ninth track) both come up.

Mercenary have continued in the powerful, melodic style they cultivated on their previous releases. The riffing on The Hours That Remain is almost percussion-like; the guitar notes mimic drum beats, but they’re put together in such a soaring way, with such a multi-layered sound, that it only adds power rather than detracting from the melody. The riffing is in sync with the drums themselves on several songs, Redefine Me being the most prominent example. After a slow, quiet intro, the guitars and drums roar to life, backed by the bass and accompanied by a synth and second guitar melody. The instruments split off during the chorus, with every erg of energy being poured into the effort of making the song soar.

The soloing is very good, but just as layered as the rest of the song. The rest of the instrumentation does drop away, but there’s so much of it that it can’t help but provide a solid background for the solo, softening the edge that guitars usually get when they’re brought to the forefront.

The vocals, of course, are no different in character; no fewer than three members of the band provide vocals, usually layering them in much the same way as the instrumentation. Mikkel Sandager leads with a clean set of pipes, a midrange delivery that catches the melody of the songs and rides it like an ocean breaker. There are a few instances of harsh vocals, though usually they’re used to layer the clean vocals; very rarely do they stand on their own.

Synths are used quite a bit throughout The Hours That Remain, although it’s not a symphonic album by any stretch of the imagination. The keys are high in the mix, but very demure and floating, used as accents and bridges. The outro of the title track uses piano notes exclusively, taking on an arthouse vibe that might be pretentious on another album. However, because of the continuous presence of keys and the constant mutation of melody throughout The Hours That Remain, it works well as a closing grace note.

Previous fans of Mercenary and curious passersby alike will be rewarded with this one; they’ve gone even farther in the direction 11 Dreams took and created a complex, uplifting album, despite the somewhat melancholy lyrical material. Everything fits in its place and contributes to the robustness of the melody and almost overwhelming power. This is one not to miss.

Killing Songs :
Soul Decision, Obscure Indiscretion, My World Is Ending
Kayla quoted 92 / 100
Other albums by Mercenary that we have reviewed:
Mercenary - Metamorphosis reviewed by Khelek and quoted 72 / 100
Mercenary - Architect Of Lies reviewed by Khelek and quoted 84 / 100
Mercenary - 11 Dreams reviewed by Jack and quoted 90 / 100
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