Power of Metal, Markthalle, Hamburg - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Mercenary was the Danish flavour of the Power of Metal show, and that they had pulled a lot of Danish out of the woods (and out of the country) was not to be mistaken as they hit the stage as the second band of the night.

Already before the band began playing, during their setup, there were lots of people shouting to them in Danish, and this seemed to entertain the band members who smiled widely as they put their gear in order. Sometimes they would even throw a comment back, as they found a familiar face in the crowd.
Actually, I had found out that there had been a whole bus full of people coming from Denmark for this particular show, which made the percentage of our country men unusually large for this venue, and I’m sure that Mercenary played no small role in making this happen. They are after all possibly the most well-known active prog-metal band we have.

Just as with Thaurorod before them, Mercenary had gone through a substantial membership reconfiguration since the last time we saw them. Clean vocalist Mikkel Sandager was now gone, as was keyboardist Morten Sandager and drummer Mike Park Nielsen.
Still, with the new album Metamorphosis in their backpack, and bassist René Pedersen handling all vocal duties as guitarist Martin Buus took over keyboards on the album, Mercenary was now just like the phoenix on the cover of their latest album, ready to rise from the ashes of their own fallen identity and show that the new and shining incarnation was about to bring this to another level.
Quite an ambitious move, so could they pull it off?
Well, first of all I have to congratulate them on the massive sound they put out of the speakers. The only problem was that it was a bit more than Pedersen’s newly acquired clean vocals could handle, and his words drowned a bit in the wall of beautiful noise created. I’m sure that when he learns to put as much power in these pieces as he already does in the harsh ones, things will look a lot brighter for him. They sounded good, don’t get me wrong, he just needs to turn up the volume.
As for the performance, I felt that the band as a whole, while remaining rather lively, still seemed calmer and less aggressive than they have done at prior times. All part of growing up I suppose, but I always liked the old shows a lot, and had a harder time getting completely into this.
Their professional and effortless way at handling the audience paid of halfway into the set however, and I found the second part of the gig much more enjoyable than the first. Interestingly enough, the second half was the one containing mostly material from their latest album. Especially The Follower, the first release from Metamorphosis, proved to be an excellent headbanging soundtrack, and for In A River Of Madness Pedersen met with some success as he asked the crowd to start pushing each other around.

As Mercenary had a nice support from the many Danish fans, and a great selection of songs at their disposal, this could not really go anywhere else than in a good direction, which it did. As for rising above and beyond their own boundaries, I think they still need a little bit of time settling in this new skin of theirs before really going as far as they can.
Still, when all things are said and done, this too was a highly enjoyable show. This far the night was going better than I had dared hope for.

Setlist (incomplete):

Through The Eyes Of The Devil
In A River Of Madness
In Bloodred Shades
The Follower

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