Mercenary was formed in 1991 in Aalborg, Denmark. 1993 and 1994 demos were called Domicile and Gummizild. Bo Summer of Illdisposed produced them. Guitarist Jakob was in Panzerchrist with Illdisposed members.
Kral’s brother Andersen left the fold in 1993. Producer Jacob Hansen handled the 1996 Supremacy EP and signed the band to Serious Entertainment. The group signed with Hammerheart in September of 2001. Everblack came out in 2002. In the summer of 2003 Mercenary parted ways with guitarist Signar Petersen due to "personal and musical differences." The band replaced him with 19-year old Martin Buus Pedersen. The band was recording a new CD for Hammerheart Records. The band continuously bled members before and after signing with Century Media. The signing with the new label coincided with a heavy promotional effort and lots of hype with the media lapping it up. Founder Kral left in 2005. Mercenary drummer Mike Park broke his leg in an accident in February of 2006. Mike recovered quickly and recorded the band’s next album in March and May. Sister Sin, Leaves' Eyes and Mercenary opened for Arch Enemy at the latter band’s December Tyranny Tour 2008. In 2008 the band covered Arch Enemy's Burning Angel for the Century Media compilation Covering 20 Years Of Extremes. This compilation featured Century Media acts paying tribute to their label-mates.
Despite the monicker the band was rather lightweight, which resulted in some surprise when in late 2009 it lost more members with the remaining members claiming they wanted to go into a more heavy direction. Drummer Mike Park Nielsen had left. The band subsequently had fired singer Mikkel Sandager and keyboardist Morten Sandager. Park ended up in Hatesphere. Mercenary recruited drummer Morten Løwe Sørensen (The Arcane Order, Submission and Slugs) in 2010 and also announced that bassist René Pedersen has replaced singer Mikkel Sandager. One-time hyped by Century Media, Mercenary would release its sixth album, Metamorphosis, on February 25th through NoiseArt Records. The CD was produced by Jacob Hansen. Prosthetic Records had picked it up for North America. The band next completed its seventh album, Through Our Darkest Days, for a July 26th, 2013 release through NoiseArt Records. The band was touring Iberia in October of 2016.
MERCENARY - 11 DREAMS - CENTURY MEDIA
One wishes that Century Media publicity had not sent out a number of press releases touting the great reviews accorded the Danish band Mercenary for its new album, 11 Dreams. How can one respect a band assigned accolades by a bunch of glossy publicist-driven comics? I mean these are the same magazines that have Pamela Anderson posters and a feature on Dani Filth or some wimp out from Entombed cooking at home! Case in point, is the opening line on the band's biography, which quotes Metal Hamster magazine as saying, "11 Dreams breaks down barriers between musical genres." Now, why on earth would any metal fan consider that a good review? Personally speaking, the more distance between pop/rock/rap/mallcore/etc. and myself the better.
Mercenary is a good band that has been massively helped by the able production of Jacob Hansen. The robust sound helps the band showcase its speedy commercial mix of metal and rock music. The vocals are mostly clean, but when the screams kick in and the band speeds up visions of Hypocrisy swim in one's mind. The rest of the songs are a mixture of newer In Flames and Dark Tranquillity which give the band an unmistakably Swedish aura. The band has, sadly, put a keyboardist in place further pushing Mercenary into pop realms. Nevertheless, there is some punchy and intense moments to be had. There are eleven rhythmic songs proper here - no surprise - but the band has tagged on two different mixes of the title track as bonus onto the CD. - Ali "The Metallian"
MERCENARY - THE HOURS THAT REMAIN - CENTURY MEDIA
Back for a second album on Century Media Mercenary's The Hours That Remain projects a dark tale of humanity in its cover art, song titles and according to the band's bio. The opening of Redefine Me seems to confirm this dark view before plunging into a mix of Swedish, read In Flames, tinted riffs coupled with progressive metal elements. Year Of The Plague is a clear take on the intensity of At The Gates-inspired recent American metal bands like As I Lay Dying but with the additional component courtesy of the guitar prowess of Martin Buus. My World Is Ending continues the gloomy theme and is even more clearly an In Flames clone, as it can sometimes be mistaken for the aforementioned's Only For The Weak. Back to heavier riffs on This Eternal Instant but not for long. The eight-minute Lost Reality takes a more progressive turn, however, the song, like the rest of the album, is never lacking in tempo changes. The screams of Mikkel Sandager do help keep the song from getting too monotonous. Soul Decision follows the same song structure, which by this sixth song will begin to tire the listener, guitar solo aside it is fast on it way to being a rather formulaic album. Simplicity Demand has an acoustic intro and is catchy. Obscure Indiscretion, where the keyboards make an appearance, doesn't offer much break or variety from the rest. My Secret Window and the title track, with its piano-accompanied ending, round off the remainder of this hour-long release. Wether or not humanity, or the listener, survive for many more hours is up to us all. Watch for a bonus DVD in the public release due later in the summer. - Anna Tergel
The metal scene, like any musical consortium, goes through cycles of buzz that emerge and fade. One of the first bands of the millennium to get a massive shot of this kind of uber-positive publicity was Nevermore: circa 2000, the hype on Dead Heart In A Dead World was raised to almost feverish pitch, cementing the band as a major player in the scene. Fast-forward a bit and the likes of God Forbid, Shadows Fall, Voivod (although justifiably), Soilwork, Mastodon, and (on a smaller scale) Hammers Of Misfortune all made their hype mark, the critics salivating their way through reviews and interviews all the while dragging the buying public along with them. The latest in this list of extreme metal journalistic hyper-chatter is Mercenary, the Danish band that has gotten perfect scores in seemingly every metal magazine. Despite the insane amount of good press, I remain unconvinced; the record in question -- 11 Dreams -- is, to my ears, really contrived and cheesy Euro rock with maybe (maybe!) three solid songs to its credit. There's got to be an antidote to the overdrive and I guess we here at Metallian are that bitter pill.
"We've been overwhelmed by the US and Canadian press," enthuses Kral, Mercenary's super-positive vocalist and bass player. " We've gotten top scores in North America and the European press has been amazing, too. This is a big change in our lives. We've been doing this for 13 years in obscurity and we're finally getting somewhere. It's a big privilege to hear such nice things about your record. But, of course, we do say 'finally!' (laughs)"
"We've always thrived and worked hard to make things happen for this band," he continues. "While we were writing this album, we really thought it was the kind of record that could break out. It was the perfect sound with a good set of songs, and we were confident in the album. Of course, 10 years ago I would have thought this day would have come sooner (laughs)."
It seems that even before the record hit the scribes, people outside the band knew Mercenary was up to something. A&R guys from Century Media, Metal Blade and InsideOut all pitched deals to the Danes, hoping to snag 11 Dreams.
"We played ProgPower in Atlanta in 2003 and Century Media US saw us," explains Kral. "They contacted us while we were recording 11 Dreams and they told us they were interested in hearing the album when it was mixed and mastered. Metal Blade and InsideOut also were interested at this point. We thought the situation was really cool -- basically, the three biggest labels in metal were interested in us. They were much bigger labels than we were used to (laughs)! It was a real privilege to decide between those three, that's for sure."
All that being said, for 11 Dreams to be truly successful Mercenary will have to tour incessantly in order to make the press hype come to life. "We definitely want to tour, but it all depends on how the record sells in the States. The press has been over-the-top, and if the audience buys it a tour might happen. It's too early to tell at this point, but our time in Atlanta was amazing. The US audience is different from the European audiences we're used to, but in a good way. I'd love to tour with Nevermore -- they're my favourite band!"
An interesting facet of Mercenary is that the band's sound is all over the metal spectrum (comparisons have ranged from the above-mentioned Nevermore, to In Flames, Children Of Bodom and Evergrey), yet the group's image remains decidedly un-metal. Taking a look at the promo photo, I'm reminded of mallrats or even indie-rock hipsters found on Canada's trendiest street, St-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal.
"We're six people who listen to six different types of metal, so it's a difficult task to pull it off and feel natural. But we succeeded in blending sounds and vocals and making it sound larger-than-life. It just happened, we just jammed. We didn't really think about it. As for our image, on the last album we went for the Matrix look, y'know black jackets and sunglasses. But now we just wanted to look cool. So we went with the natural and casual look, what we wear every day. We don't want to dress up. We don't want to wear masks or war paint, because we don't want an image we can't live up to." - David Perri - 10.02.2005