HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Mercenary - 11 Dreams
(Century Media)

Wow. Years of experience for Denmark's Mercenary have now landed the band on the right label for things to happen, as well as with the right record to push them well up the metal ranks. 11 Dreams is perfect, Mercenary locating - much credit to Raunchy and Hatesphere producer Jacob Hanson - a huge, down-tuned air-sucking guitar sound, full-bodied bass, a challenging array of textures, and most impressively massive, pure metal vocals of about four types, including oddly super-powerful death, heart-wrenching clean, Patton-technical and a beautiful kings of metal roar, much of the heft obtained by exquisite, inspiring multi-tracking. Daring to use keyboards often, and like true stars, not afraid to try a dark progressive ballad or two or three, Mercenary have a masterpiece on their hands, one that recalls emotional, nearly personality-altering highs from the likes of Soilwork, Hypocrisy, Children Of Bodom, Dark Tranquillity, Rapture, In Flames, and most enigmatically, creamy wall of sound bits from Devin Townsend. But to my mind, it's the Rapture influence that emanates (mostly abstractly) from this thing, Mercenary sounding heavingly Finnish, drop-dead professional in every nook and cranny, fully aware of the insane competition in the crowded melodic death metal minefield. This deserves Mastodon-like hype, or at least the attention afforded Soilwork.
Rating 10

Kingdom Come - Perpetual

Like the not bad Independent from '02, Perpetual funds Lenny Wolf doing everything (save for guitar solos by Eric Foerster), and that includes (mostly?) programmed drums; I say mostly because some of them sound real enough. What you get is a grungy, industrial, hair band goes self-important and proto-psychedelic album that bores your pants off, save for the more than occasional monster chorus, monster in both heaviness and infectiousness. O'er the mash, Lenny sings like senior citizen years Don Dokken (the Plant stuff from both of them is long done with), making the whole thing feel like that failed but under-rated Shadowlife album from Deadly Don, or perhaps Def Leppard's only good album since Pyromania, Slang. Everything on this thing is slow and gloopy and textural, but occasionally this translates to epic, as Lenny builds track upon track and goes Zeppelin on the melodies (see With The Sun In Mind and Watch The Dragon Fly). I mean, the guy does know how to make those choruses really big, and I guess he does that by making the remaining 80% of this snoozefest crouch and nap quietly.
Rating 5

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