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Mercenary | 11 Dreams | review | metal | Lollipop
11 Dreams (Century Media)
by Eric Chon
Our first song opens with some synth symphony and is titled "Into the Sea of Dark Desires." Did I just step into the world of elves and orcs again? Thankfully, no. Instead, Mercenary's 11 Dreams schools me with its driving double-bass drums and aggressive-yet-melodic vocals. This is good shit.
11 Dreams marks Mercenary's Century Media debut, and in what a way. Filled with majesty and sorrow, it displays a depth and variety of songwriting rarely seen today. Like Opeth and perhaps Into Eternity, Mercenary eschew conventional genres and take what they will from the world of metal. Haunting piano here, a forceful and engaging mixture of clean and death vocals over there: There's so much at play in the 11 songs (hence the title, duh), it's hard to keep track sometimes.
Bittersweet harmonies interwoven with Mikkel Sandager's clean vocals are perfectly complimented by Jakob Molbjerg and Martin Buus' chunky guitar and Mike Park's frantic rhythms. Mikkel's brother, Morten, adds keyboard texture for the rest of the music to play off of. Kral's sublime scream never overpowers nor detracts from all this melody. In fact, the sheer brutality displayed in tracks like "Firesoul" almost makes you forget how ethereal Mercenary can be. At these times, it's closer to 11 Nightmares rather than 11 Dreams.
It can get a little power/prog cheesy. Maybe the synths are a tad over-the-top, or the wailing guitar cries just a bit too much, but these are forgivable offenses. Too often, the sheer brilliance of the song takes you away before you can put your finger on it. Mercenary have certainly jumped to the top of my list with 11 Dreams. Its vitality and versatility capture the imagination and refuse to let go. Don't pass these Danes up.