The Hours that Remain

Release date: August 21st 2006
Label: Century Media
Distribution: EMI (Denmark)
Style: Prog/power/death metal

Rating: 85/100
Cover artwork rating: 80
Reviewed by: Thomas Nielsen
Date: July 31st 2006 

Somewhere in the dark recesses of my music collection, there is a true gem. It contains four tracks recorded and mixed exactly a decade ago by now appropriately acclaimed producer/guitarist Jacob Hansen and Illdisposed’s subwoofer Bo Summer. The CD is called ‘Supremacy’ and it was the first release from the then frankly insignificant death metal quartet called Mercenary from the most-northern part of Denmark.

After another two releases, the band’s insignificance was suddenly blown away in 2004 with the fourth release, the critically acclaimed ‘11 Dreams’. The album was a brilliant combination of death metal brutality and power metal melody and to this day set a couple of standards for what metal music should be.

‘The Hours that Remain’ holds the flag high for those standards with a superb production and mix by Jacob Hansen that lets everyone’s effort stand out clear yet merge into a perfect whole.

Unlike its predecessor, it has taken me a few listens to get into the album. The first track, Redefine Me, initially put me off due to its (too) heavy reliance on power metal, especially Mikkel Sandager’s vocal performance. However, once you move into the album, there is plenty of brutality and aggression from the Danes, although the now departed bassist/vocalist Kral’s growls are missed greatly to add that extra punch. The song writing, I have to conclude, is excellent and mixes a lot of elements of the stuff that is moving out there right now, from Nevermore over Soilwork to Arch Enemy.

Although ‘The Hours that Remain’ doesn’t have the sing-along hit song that ’11 Dreams’ has (the title track!), I think that this one will be one of those albums that you can easily take out from the shelf in ten year’s time and enjoy just as much as now. That’s what you can do with good quality music and this is exactly what Mercenary has given us again.