Album: Everything Wrong with the World
Concept albums can be a difficult beast to wrestle into submission–as often times the key lies in strutting along a fine line. On one side of the line lies one extreme: a haphazard collection of songs with no interrelated theme, which, while often easier to compile, risks leaving the listener unsatisfied. On the other side lies a complex–and frequently convoluted–storyline which can be just as engaging as it can be confusing, risking losing the listener entirely. Where’s the balance then? What combination of free-willed album structure and engaging storyline is “ideal” for ensnaring even the most disinterested fan? Enter Mercenaries, a four-piece Ontario-based hardcore act who annihilate standards of aggressive hardcore while maintaining a strong concept with their full-length release Everything Wrong with the World.
Everything Wrong with the World loosely collects a series of events, scenarios and attitudes and connects them smoothly throughout several tracks. While the specific content of each track differs, the theme is the same–corruption, greed, violence and social dissent–essentially, everything wrong with the world. How each theme is portrayed is just as fluid and constant, as Mercenaries constantly bash and brutalize the listener with dissonant riffs and punching breakdowns. The dissonance that pervades every track and permeates through every instrument is one of the multifaceted pleasures of the album, as not only do the instruments corrode and screech on their own, but they harmonize with the vocals and even the lyrics to create a filthy experience in the best possible way.
“Fiend” is possibly the keenest example of Mercenaries’ aggressive filth present on Everything Wrong with the World. While on some tracks, the guitar screeches sound forced, or the lyrics occasionally falter, none of these issues plague “Fiend.” From the frenetic introduction to the absolutely chaotic ending breakdown, the track portrays the drums at their hardest-hitting, the guitars at their highest-squealing and the vocals leading the charge through the fray. Additionally, no single problem persists throughout the album–a further accent to it’s conceptual adherence. While the odd segment of a track may fall short or fail to engage the listener, each track is so quickly paced and a microcosm of insanity and distress that by the time the listener realizes, “hey, this doesn’t do much for me,” the song has changed shape again, and morphed into an all-new beast.
The brevity of each track is possibly the greatest saving grace on Everything Wrong with the World. Before a singular vice or segment can manage to get overbearing or boring, the song shifts. Similarly, Mercenaries make aggressive, in-your-face hardcore bred with elements of powerviolence and noise, all topped with high-pitched, half-shouted half-screamed vocals a la Stray from the Path. This concoction has the volatile potential to get too viscous or heavy to get through in one listen. However, the short average track length and interesting tempo changes combat this potential pitfall with ease, keeping the listener so engaged that one listen-through might easily turn into three or four before he or she even notices.
Squealing guitars, demolishing drums, cascading harmonies, brutalizing breakdowns and face-rearranging slams. All of these elements are present in Everything Wrong with the World, creating a chaotic, conceptual chimaera more akin to a maelstrom than a record. So while Mercenaries may have illustrated everything wrong with the world we live in today, they have also managed to depict everything right with hardcore.
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism