01. Through the Eyes of the Devil
02. The Follower
03. In A River Of Madness
05. Velvet Lies
06. In Bloodred Shades
07. Shades of Gray
08. On The Edge Of Sanity
09. The Black Brigade
Many people were skeptical of Mercenary’s ability to deliver after last year’s major lineup change, which left Mercenary with half of its lineup. With Metamorphosis, Mercenary have proven that in their current incarnation, they are just as capable as they have ever been. In fact, Metamorphosis is a definite step in the right direction.
Metamorphosis starts out on forceful footing with “Through the Eyes of the Devil,” one of the heaviest songs on the album and what could very well be one of the better melodic death metal songs I’ve heard in the last few years. This song delivers on all fronts; aggressive parts are matched with melodic guitar leads and a memorable chorus that proves that they can do just fine without ex-vocalist Mikkel Sandager’s singing.
The rest of the album continues in a somewhat straightforward fashion in varying degrees of success on this formula. The heavy use of a growling vocal style on the opening track is a bit deceitful, as most of the songs that follow it are dominated by clean singing. This doesn’t necessarily have such a huge negative impact on the album, as anyone who is familiar with Mercenary could have seen it coming a mile away. The vocals are certainly quite catchy, especially in the decidedly Van Halen-esque “Memoria.” They don’t shy away from heavy moments completely however, as in “In a River of Madness,” which contains symphonic death metal elements complete with layers of synth that build up a very dark and ominous tone not uncommon in your average Behemoth song.
In terms of technical prowess, there’s not much of a “wow!” factor here; but then again, if you wanted technical showmanship, you should probably look at a different genre entirely. Some leads and solos do manage to stick out in terms of complexity, with “On The Edge Of Sanity” having a wonderful and lengthy soloing section. The main focus lies in melodic delivery as expected, and with that, Mercenary do a damn fine job.
The biggest concern met with Metamorphosis is that melodic death metal (or modern metal, rather) is hard to get right. The genre has been exhausted for quite some time, with a handful of bands able to maintain some sort of memorability and stick around past the genre’s prime to deliver consistently good albums. It’s safe to say that this genre of music is plagued with some very generic tunes, and Mercenary are dancing around on the line that separates the banal and the exceptional. There is definitely no new ground broken on Metamorphosis, but it definitely sits comfortably on the ears of the listener, bringing hooks and leads around every corner.
So all in all, the common fears of Mercenary’s latest album being a flop were largely unfounded. In fact, they exceeded my expectations and delivered a much better album than 2008’s Architect of Lies. Metamorphosis shows that the band is resilient and has some definite lasting power beyond melodeath’s reign. This lineup is going places.