Mercenary - Metamorphosis
Prosthetic Records
Melodeath with Modern Rock influences
9 songs (48:40)
Release year: 2011
Mercenary, Prosthetic Records
Reviewed by Khelek

I've been keeping up with Mercenary ever since hearing their excellent 2004 album 11 Dreams. Much has changed since that album, with founding member Kral leaving early in 2006. There have been several key lineup changes since then, the most recent being the departure of Mikkel and Morten Sandager, who handled vocal and keyboard duties respectively. Rene Pedersen, who stepped in to fill the void at bass and growled vocals, now handles all vocals and lead guitarist Martin Buus also handles keyboard. On this album I hoped that the band would start following some of the more progressive tendencies that their sound has had in the past because while they do embody the modern melodeath sound first and foremost, they also know how to mix in influences from other genres including thrash, gothic, and even power metal. While the band does manage to create some memorable music here, the direction seems to have shifted from pure melodeath to a sound that incorporates elements of modern rock and power metal. While they do sometimes blend these elements together quite well, it can also have the effect of rendering the music a bit cliche and confusing at times.

Through The Eyes Of The Devil gets off to a decent start with a melodic guitar lead, with the growls of Pedersen coming in to add some aggression. Right off the bat I'm liking this guys voice, it's not the same as the past vocalist, more aggressive, but he's still able to inject melody into the chorus, which is admittedly a little poppy, but it's enjoyable. However, I am not big on the interlude towards the end of the song. The clean vocals sound quite weak here. Overall it's not a bad song, and definitely keeps with the Mercenary sound despite there being several new band members. The Follower is basically a rehash of the band's past work and sounds very familiar. There is another silly interlude here that I don't really understand the point of, other than to allow Pedersen to use his clean vocals, and his growls just don't sound as good through most of this track. Memoria is the next song that catches my attention with a quick, interesting guitar lead. The clean vocals work better here in combination with the melodic guitar, though the drums are a bit too loud. I can really feel sincerity in Pedersen's voice here, which makes up for the weaker clean singing to some extent. He also tries to do some higher pitched singing, which actually sounds better. All in all another pretty strong track. This is definitely the Mercenary sound I remember; melodic, melacholy atmosphere, but an intense performance in terms of both the vocals and instruments. You can really feel the energy and emotion here. Velvet Lies is another softer, mid-paced track that would sound more at home in the modern rock genre. The drums are very fast and heavy, and the guitars occasionally throw in some metal riffs, but it's mostly in the form of an instrumental interlude that doesn't have much purpose besides to inject something "metal" into the song. On The Edge Of Sanity could have been a great song, the riffing is powerful and so are Pedersen's growls. However, the song gets bogged down with what I consider overzealous repetition and goofy attempts at solos and the odd keyboard lick haphazardly thrown in. Final track The Black Brigade is the strongest from the second half of the album, with Pedersen using intense growls and his rougher, clean-ish singing for the catchy chorus. Besides another yawnful interlude in the middle, the song has some great energy, especially in the guitars.

If the band is really going for some type of change, this is not a good start. While they are still true to their melodeath roots, much of what is presented here is mixed in with modern rock influences and an overall lack of consistency in the songwriting. I can understand the odd ballad, but in some of the songs we get this weird mixture of modern rock whining and metal riffing and drumming, and even some thrashier metalcore influences from time to time. It leads to a hodgepodge that I know will be confusing to other listeners just as it was to me. In my opinion Pedersen's clean vocals often do not fit, and it's not because he necessarily has a weak voice, but because the music is melodeath, and his singing has more of a modern rock/power metal feel to it. Maybe that's just me though, and I suppose with so many band members coming and going, something has to give. I would say if you like the overall Mercenary sound, you will probably dig a handful of songs on this album, but don't expect to be able to get the same kind of replay value as 11 Dreams or The Hours That Remain. In the future I hope Mercenary get their new lineup figured out because I sense that they still have the ability to write amazing music. Most importantly they need to keep themselves from running into a creative dead-end like so many others in this genre.

Killing Songs :
Through The Eyes Of The Devil, Memoria, The Black Brigade
Khelek quoted 72 / 100
Other albums by Mercenary that we have reviewed:
Mercenary - Architect Of Lies reviewed by Khelek and quoted 84 / 100
Mercenary - The Hours That Remain reviewed by Kayla and quoted 92 / 100
Mercenary - 11 Dreams reviewed by Jack and quoted 90 / 100
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