Mercenary is one of those bands that over time has tweaked their sound here and there to the delight of some, and to the absolute horror of others. I personally loved 2011’s Metamorphosis, and the new album, Through Our Darkest Days, out today on Prosthetic Records is an even bigger improvement, culminating in their best album yet. This is largely due to René Pedersen taking over the vocals for the second record in a row.
“A New Dawn” opens things up and right away you can tell this is going to be more of a power metal album with some thrash mixed into it than the melodic death metal label pinned on them years ago. It hasn’t fit this band for some time, and it’s nice to see them playing to their strengths. On “Welcome To Sickness” the guitars are rough and heavy, and the keys really accentuate the melody on the chorus, making for a nice contrast, and resulting in one of the album’s finest works. Title track “Through Our Darkest Days” is a great blend of the old and new metal sounds with an uplifting chorus that will have fans everywhere singing along, and is another winner.
Now we come to my favorite, the hit-the-repeat-button-16 times-track, “Dreamstate Machine”. The growls and fury are there on the verses, coupled with driving riffage, and then the clean vocals hit you like a two-ton heavy thing on the bridge and the hooks, and the album immediately jumped up two points before I was even finished my first listen! “A Moment of Clarity” is a double-bass laden affair featuring some funky programming and a sound Disturbed only wishes they had. A change in tempo, but not intensity marks the start of “Beyond This Night” with René using his clean voice again before letting ‘er rip as the song builds up steam. Again, this contrast, this push and pull is what makes Mercenary sound so great.
“Starving Eyes” is a straight-up rocker where the keyboards are a little more in the foreground, meshing well with the guitar lines, and delivering another winning track. A drum attack punctuates “Generation Hate” which is all anger and menace on the verses, and anthemic on the chorus. This band knows what works, and they do it well. This is one you’ll be singing long after the album’s done.”Forever the Unknown” serves as the perfect closer, with a haunting riff, and a great solo, making you feel like this nine-song journey you’ve just been on is coming to an end and you’ve reached your destination. That’s the thing, this album FEELS like a journey, with a beginning, middle, and an end, though it comes too quickly. Mercenary are a band of top-notch musicians, and on Through Our Darkest Days it shows.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “A New Dawn”, “Generation Hate”, “Dreamstate Machine”, “Welcome To Sickness” “Through Our Darkest Days”