If you wanted to place this one into a category for descriptive purposes, you'd find that it's not so easy. On their new release "11 Dreams", Mercenary plays like a jack of all trades with elements of practically all the metal styles you can find--power, progressive, black, etc. I like a lot of bands that ride the edge of genres (Childen Of Bodom, Biomechanical) innovating the metal landscape where others are content to be second rate recycling the same old sounds and songs like inbred families that grow uglier each generation.
Powered by the clean vocals of Mikkel Sandager and the extreme-ish vocals of Kral, who really isn't too harsh for those with a picky taste in vocalists, "11 Dreams" is a killer record with a dark edge that is consistent throughout. After an dramatic keyboard instrumental, "World Hate Center" powers forth as one of the heavier numbers with rapid drums and a generous blend of post-modern black metal vocals. The title track then sets the tone for the mixture of tasty confections that follow.
Mikkel is simply phenomenal with the mid-range, full bodied confidence of Zak Stevens (Circle II Circle, Savatage) and the power of Manowar's ace vocalist. He's one of the strongest vocalists I've heard in years and when you hear him hit the notes in "Firesoul" or the light "Times Without Changes" you'll be as convinced.
There's a lot less going in here musically than you think though, but Mercenary and the excellently layered production envelopes you in a wash of sound that takes many, many listens to be able to pull out and concentrate on some of the simpler guitar riffs and patterns. A few of the numbers feel a bit stretched ("Loneliness"), but there's the capability to splice them up (blasphemy!) for single-play with the excellent vocal deliveries and harmonies.
If you like simple, classic riff-metal or party anthems then this may not be to your liking, but if you get into hybrid crosses with disparate elements that speak to the discerning listener, then give this one a chance and see if you also think they are not masters of none, but masters of all.
About this Writer: Frank Hill // Frank Hill has been at this site since its slimy, crying birth in '03. He was born on National Metal Day--11/11 and will turn his hearing aids up to 11 when he's 111. He secretly listens to a lot of old Country and Doo-Wop tunes and wants to start a cyberband with lead vocals by Robot Plant. He is still trying to figure out what Judas Priest meant by "paratamize you". If you read this, then he salutes you.
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