Mercenary - The Hours That Remain review
|Album:||The Hours That Remain|
|Release date:||August 2006|
01. Redefine Me
02. Year of the Plague
03. My World is Ending
04. This Eternal Instant
05. Lost Reality
06. Soul Decision
07. Simplicity Demand
08. Obscure Indiscretion
09. My Secret Window
10. The Hours That Remain
Disc II [limited edition DVD]
01. Live At Dynamo 2005
1 - Intro - Redestructdead
2 - Firesoul
3 - Into The Sea - World Hate Center
4 - 11 Dreams
02. Live At Pratten 2006
1 - Intro - Redestructdead
2 - Firesoul
3 - Sharpen The Edges
4 - Into The Sea - World Hate Center
5 - 11 Dreams
+ Firesoul [Video edit version]
When I heard that Mercenary had parted ways with bassist and songwriter Henrik "Kral" Andersen I feared the worst. Too many bands had virtually died after losing an influential member and Kral was, in a way, the "Mr. Mercenary" for many years. So when the word got out that Mercenary would do an album without him the expectations were high, but so were the worries. After all this album would succeed the legendary "11 Dreams."
Well, this album has been out for more than a year now and that should suffice to review it objectively, and after all this time I have also really grown to like it. Granted, "The Hours that Remain" is no second "11 Dreams" and anyone expecting the old epic Mercenary on this one will likely be disappointed. "The Hours that Remain" is much harder than that, but easier to listen to at the same time. How can that be? I'll explain.
After the mandatory Mercenary keyboard intro, the song "Redefine Me" sets the pace for the rest of the album and reveals what is probably the greatest musical difference to it's predecessors: this album keeps a consistent sound from the beginning to the end. Gone are the times of different sounds and styles put together on one cd. The loss of Kral manifests itself in a lack of deep growls which is masterfully compensated for by Mikkel, whose voice was never more diverse on a Mercenary album. From high-pitch screams to dark aggressive vocals, this man does it all and his unique voice again impressively brands the sound that is Mercenary.
What I really like about this album is how Mike Park plays his drums, which was a great part of the old mercenary and remains as dominant on this album. This also applies for Jakob's and Martin's guitar playing which lays the foundation for a rich, blasting sound, accompanied by ambient keyboards which have become most dominant in Mercenary's history so far. The uniform sound makes it more difficult to get into this album than it was getting into its predecessors. Therefore it is very difficult to point out songs that define the album. All the songs play their part in "The Hours that Remain" and while there's not one song I can point out as bad or unsuitable, there's also no single track poking out of the others. This being why this album is really nice to listen to and easy to get in to. Still, if I was to name specific songs I would choose: "Lost Reality" which could be seen as the secret climax of the album, being one of the fastest and hardest tracks; "Soul Decision" for its speed and great vocals; "Simplicity Demand" for its nice melodic feeling and at last "Obscure Indiscretion" and "My Secret Window" because they're just great.
One thing that I do miss about the old Mercenary is the exceptional lyrical work they used to perform. The lyrics on "The Hours that Remain" are by far not as sharp and metaphor-rich as they were when Kral was with the band. This might not be a problem for most fans, but I like good lyrics and will therefore take half a point off my rating to underline this importance.
Even though "The Hours that Remain" has a far more consistent sound than Mercenary's old work it actually takes more time to get into it. The uniform sound does its best to conceal this album's true gems for a while. But give it time and I'm sure you will start to like this album. It's certainly not Mercenary's best work but given the circumstances it really is a blast and even though it relies almost exclusively on clean vocals it should be capable of convincing old fans as well as those who normally like growls in their music.
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