Mercenary

11 Dreams

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

After a slow and gradual climb out of obscurity, Denmark's Mercenary really seem to have hit their stride with their third album, 2004's Eleven Dreams. Following the beautifully orchestrated intro "Into the Sea of Dark Desires," the ultra-heavy, yet also ultra-melodic "World Hate Center" takes us right back to the '90s Gothenburg death metal sound (remember Dark Tranquility, In Flames, et al?), but also augments the style's typical Cookie Monster growls with high-pitched, clean vocal lines. This modern touch takes deeper hold starting with the ensuing, quite excellent title track, and then rarely lets up through standouts like "reDestrucDead" and "Falling," which prove that Mercenary, although mindful of prior trends, in no way qualify as a nostalgia act. Rather, with the additional exception of the Machine Head-indebted "Supremacy V2.0" (a reworked track from the band's 1996 demo that comes laden with piercing harmonics), most of Eleven Dreams slots smoothly into the same, commercial '00s metal formula favored by labelmates Into Eternity, or the sometimes more proggie Evergrey. Which is to say that, despite its ample use of supporting synthesizers, it's as accessible as metal gets without succumbing to power metal cheese; a blunder Mercenary are guilty of just once when they get a little too saccharine with "Music non Stop." Thankfully, that questionable entry aside (the brief "Times Without Changes" doesn't really qualify, as it's more of an interlude), most every song here manages to balance the soft with the hard in just the right dosage, and when combined with the group's consistently exciting and inspired songwriting, makes for a solid album through and through.

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