Album: Through Our Darkest Days
1. A New Dawn
2. Welcome the Sickness
3. Through Our Darkest Days
4. Dreamstate Machine
5. A Moment of Clarity
6. Beyond This Night
7. Starving Eyes
8. Generation Hate
9. Forever the Unknown
Few MeloDeath bands stand out to me like Danish legends Mercenary. The progression they’ve made since they formed nearly 20 years ago is absolutely phenomenal. The band has progressively rose through the ranks and hit on just about every metal sub-genre there is today, an impressive feat for any band. Their newest offering, slated to hit stores on July 30th, is called “Through Our Darkest Days” and is easily, yet arguably, some of their best work to date! The lead single and title track “Through Our Darkest Days” is a battle cry shouting that you must push on even when you feel you can’t anymore. It’s one of those “light at the end of the tunnel” type tracks that many bands attempt, yet few truly lock in. That’s just one chapter of this 9 part epic, though. Let’s dive in and find out what makes this album stand out amongst others.
Instrumentation: How many bands do you know that can take simple and make it sound elegant? Throughout most of the album, this is what you get from Mercenary. Furthermore, the more technical sections manage to sound even more epic than they were intended! Take the opening track, “A New Dawn”, for instance. On the surface, it sounds like it could be just another radio hit, does it not? Once you delve deep into the track though, you get technical guitar riffs, blazing solos and incredible drum beats. Then, let’s talk about the absolutely brutal screams on the album. As most of you know, the voice is as much an instrument as the guitar, drums, piano, etc. The difference between those is that you can’t fix something that’s broken in your voice without having surgery and even then it can be destroyed for life. With this in mind, bands who scream are taking a huge risk but the majority of them can pull it off and not damage their vocal cords due to years of practice. New vocalist, Rene Pedersen’s vocal ability on this album pushes his vocal boundaries like never before and does it in the perfect manner! Let’s talk about melody now. Now, many people don’t know that one can scream and actually create melody, but it is indeed possible. An example of this would be when Rene screams “Inflicting pain upon my hollow shell. This is my torment, my personal hell. Forever to be infected, welcome the sickness!” on the 2nd track “Welcome the Sickness” and it’s pulled off with skill and precision. It’s a difficult task to achieve but with years of practice, it’s possible.
Lyrics/Song Structure: This album seems to be a concept album, but I don’t think it was meant to be. The songs hit on the subjects of daily struggles both within and outside of yourself. The album title says a lot about the content of the album itself. Pedersen has stepped up to the plate and proven that he has what it takes to complete the line-up of this legendary band. His lyrical prowess is as deep and deadly as any Mercenary lyric before it. Let’s talk about songs like “Dreamstate Machine”, in which he sings of the falseness behind religion, while not necessarily attacking the faith. The song speaks of the hypocrisy of people who claim to be religious, but are only doing so to “fit in”. I could be wrong, but that’s what I get from the track. “In a state of make-believe you seem to be taking on a new belief, adapting to the scene. What is true, why can’t we see? We are machines hiding from reality. A numb routine.” Then you have songs like “A Moment of Clarity” in which he sings of how we all constantly cry out for salvation, but always manage to fall victim to the temptations of sin. The album gets deeper as it goes so be sure to listen to the lyrics to each and every track and take it all in.
Overall Feel: I would definitely consider this an incredible power metal album with some death metal elements thrown into it. The feelings of anger, despair, happiness and not feeling alone have really been achieved throughout making this album one for the ages. What I feel makes this album stand out though is the lyrical content and the melodies. They are pulled off better than ever before on this album. I recommend picking it up and truly taking it all in before giving it a negative opinion, as I’ve seen a lot of people do.
If this review isn’t enough to pull you in and convince you of the power behind this album, go pick it up for yourself! “Through Our Darkest Days” will be out on Prosthetic Records on Tuesday, July 30th in the US & July 29th in the UK!