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Sunday Old School: Mercenary

Over the course of Sunday Old School, we've looked at groups from many countries, some more than others. The United States, Great Britain and Germany have all had quite a large number of bands featured throughout the history of this column, while Greece, Canada, Japan and Brazil have had a respectable number featured too. There are also countries which have only popped up once such as Turkey, Russia, Serbia and India. One country that has only had one of their native bands featured a small number of times is the northern European nation of Denmark, though their number will increase today as we take a look at their best known contribution to the power metal genre, Mercenary.

Mercenary began life in 1991, the brainchild of guitarist Hans Jørgen Andersen, who was joined in his musical endeavour by drummer Jakob Johnsen, singer Henrik "Kral" Andersen and Andreas W. Hansen on bass. The quartet recorded their first demo, "... Domicile" in 1993, with a second demo, "Gummizild" being released the next year, around the same time their song, "One Eyed Beast" appeared on the compilation, "Fuck You, We're From Denmark Vol.3." The demos garnered enough attention for the group to sign with Black Day Records, through whom they released their first EP, "Supremacy" in 1996, although by this point, Kral was the only original member left, taking up bass as well as holding his position as vocalist, with guitar and drum duties being handled by Nikolaj Brinkman, Jakob Mølbjerg and Rasmus Jacobsen respectively.

The EP proved popular with the Danish metal underground and soon the group signed with another Danish label, Serious Entertainment. They released their debut studio album, entitled appropriately enough, "First Breath," through the company in 1998 and contained more of a death metal sound than the power metal they would later become known for. Despite the change of sound that was to come, the album is still regarded very highly by fans of the band, though it would be their only release recorded with this lineup, with a number of changes occuring over the next few years.

Before Mercenary recorded their sophomore studio release, Nikolaj Brinkman quit the band and was replaced by Signar Petersen, while the group also decided to expand their sound by recruiting a clean vocalist named Mikkel Sandager, whose brother Morten also joined the group on keyboards. Now as a six piece, Mercenary released their second album, "Everblack" in 2002 through Hammerheart Records, going on to become another highly thought of release by fans and critics alike.

Once more, the band were forced into a lineup change following the release of an album, with recent recruit Signar Petersen quitting after drummer Rasmus Jacobsen was fired from the group for what the other members felt was a lack of dedication. Their places were taken by Martin Buus and Mike Park Nielsen respectively and soon afterwards, the band signed with German record company Century Media. Their first album for the label, "11 Dreams" came in 2004, earning a number of good reviews and positive feedback from fans and helping to break the band into the consciousness of modern metal listeners.

As was becoming tradition by this point, Mercenary split with a member once again, this time however, it was founding member Kral, leading the band to recruit a new bassist named Jacob Hansen, but decided to continue without a harsh vocalist, thus leaving Mikkel Sandager as the sole voice of Mercenary. Their first release to feature almost entirely clean singing, "The Hours That Remain," was released in 2006 and also came as a limited edition double disc, which included a DVD containing live footage and the music video for the song, "Firesoul."

Jacob Hansen would not stay as a member of Mercenary for long however, and soon after the release of "The Hours That Remain," they brought in a new bassist, René Pedersen, who also contributed harsh vocals to the band, which could be heard on their 2008 album, "Architect Of Lies." The band promoted the album by heading out on a European tour with American thrash metal legends Death Angel, who themselves had just released a new album, "Killing Season."

The album marked another important moment for Mercenary, as it would mark the end of another chapter in their history, with the Sandager brothers and Mike Park Nielsen all leaving the group in November 2009, leaving Pedersen to perform both harsh and clean vocals, the drum stool to be taken over by Morten Løwe and the band deciding not to hire a new keyboardist. This new lineup recorded a new album the next year, though it wasn't released until 2011, entitled, "Metamorphosis," though it received some of the weakest reviews of their career.

"Metamorphosis" was the only album to feature Morten Løwe on drums, who was replaced soon afterwards by Peter Mathiesen, completing the current lineup of the band. Mathiesen made his recording debut with the band on the 2013 album, "Through Our Darkest Days," which received a stronger response than its predecessor, though it wasn't held up as high as their earlier material. Since then, Mercenary has focused more on live performances and talk of a new album has been somewhat hushed. Whatever the future brings however, Mercenary can be assured of their place as one of Denmark's most revered metal bands.

Mercenary - "Graveart"

Mercenary - "Rescue Me"

Mercenary - "Firesoul"

Mercenary - "My World Is Ending"

Mercenary - "Endless Fall"

Mercenary - "Through the Eyes of the Devil"

Mercenary - "Welcome to the Sickness"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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1. americanpatriot1 writes:

Great band. 11 Dreams is amazing.

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