Music

Mercenary: Metamorphosis

Despite losing half their lineup a year-and-a-half ago, the remaining members of Mercenary are able to retain the band's sound in surprising fashion on their sixth album.


Mercenary

Metamorphosis

Label: NoiseArt
US Release Date: 2011-03-29
UK Release Date: 2011-02-28
European Release Date: 2011-02-25
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

In late 2009, Mercenary's lineup was sliced in half with the departure of vocalist Mikkel Sandager, keyboardist Morten Sandager, and drummer Mike Park. With the exodus of so many members, most bands would have just called it quits. But Mercenary soldiered on, reducing their lineup to a four-piece group and expanding their roles to cover all instruments. Many fans remained skeptical, though, doubting that the band could reach even a shadow of its former excellence without the Sandager brothers or Park in the band anymore. In particular, the impending absence of Mikkel's soaring power metal vocals caused a great deal of apprehension among longtime fans, as his vocal style helped to shape the band's best material. Surprisingly, though, Mercenary's first outing with its new roster, the aptly-titled Metamorphosis, is a good album with a lot of positive aspects to compensate for the missing pieces.

Casual fans of Mercenary may not even notice some of the changes in their sound caused by the personnel shift, due to one key factor: Bassist René Pedersen, who has been elevated from backup vocalist to full-time lead singer, has a very similar singing voice to Mikkel Sandager and can hit most of the same notes. Coupled with Pedersen's introduction on the group's last album, Architect of Lies, the difference in the vocal style from that album to Metamorphosis is nearly imperceptible. The only vocal element Pedersen is unable to replicate is Sandager's high-pitched primal scream, a vocal talent that requires a great deal of training to pull off. Even lacking this, Pedersen has a very wide-ranging skill set as a vocalist, and giving him the opportunity to utilize all his skills has proven to be a positive revelation. He is comparable in many ways to Kasper Thomsen, lead vocalist of fellow Danish group Raunchy. And since Mercenary and Raunchy have drawn closer to each other in sound in recent years, this may cause a sudden increase in the fan bases of both bands.

As Pedersen compares to Mikkel Sandager in vocal abilities, the music does the same on Metamorphosis when compared to the band's older work. The lengthy, sweeping compositions still mix melodic death metal and power metal into a very unique sound with excellent, hook-filled choruses and gorgeous leads. Martin Buus still pulls off excellent guitar solos, and new drummer Morten Løwe makes an excellent first impression with his tasteful cymbal work and well-timed fills. The one thing that feels off, though, is the keyboard work. Buus does an admirable job filling in on keys, but at times, the usage of the keys feels like it was forced into the composition. Morten Sandager always maintained a very ambient presence on keys, only bringing them to the forefront when it was absolutely called for. That is not always the case here, but it is only a minor detriment to a few songs on the album.

All in all, Metamorphosis is a pleasant surprise for Mercenary fans that have been expecting the worst for some time now. Instead of a muddled album with lots of sound changes and an incomplete-sounding lineup, fans are getting a solid album of good songs that still sound like the band they've known and loved. While not on the same level as The Hours That Remain or Architect of Lies, Metamorphosis is still impressive just because of what the band overcame to reach this point. Such resilience is often overlooked in this age of music, and hopefully younger bands will be inspired by it to soldier on from lineup changes and creative differences.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.