At the end of July the modern Danish metal band Mercenary will release their fifth studio album ”Through Our Darkest Day” on NoiseArt Records.
Rocknytt through their journalist Mårten Cederberg have been given the exklusive opportunity as the first magazine ever to share the members own thoughts and opinions about the songs on the new album. Guitarist Jakob Mølbjerg and singer René Pedersen give you an intimate journey through the 10 great songs on the album.
Track by track “Through Our Darkest Days” by Mercenary
1. A New Dawn
René: “Perfect opening track, kicks off with a super catchy positive vibe, and a sound that unifies the energy and the sound of the newer and older Mercenary. The lyrical theme is to never give up, keep on fighting for the things you believe in, and hold your head high!”
2. Welcome The Sickness
René: “One of the heavier songs on the album, balancing the harder and darker aspects of our music and the melodic elements. This song is about overcoming the tough things in life and using the pain as fuel to make you push harder and make your way through, no matter what the obstacles may be. In my opinion this song also features one of the best leads on the album, a symphonic and iconic thematic lead with some of the most memorable licks ever on a Mercenary song.”
3. Through Our Darkest Days
Jakob: “This song pretty much wrote itself, almost in a matter of minutes once we started jamming the different riffs. It just felt so natural and iconic for our sound, not just for the recent years but also capturing what Mercenary is all about in one great chorus. And well, apparently we’re all about being just a bit too cheesy and playing “fists in the air metal”.
In the beginning the track had a really long and complicated structure with a long and very dark outro that was in great contrast to the rest of the song. I think it was almost 7 minutes long. But when we entered the studio we felt that we ought to either make it really long and epic or cut down all the unnecessary stuff and just leave the very core of the song, and we felt the latter option was best for this track. The guitar harmonies in the intro has been described as “maiden-esque” but I actually feel it’s much mores similar to early / mid 90’s Megadeth guitar harmonies. The way they used chromatic 3rd and 6th harmonies, especially on “Countdown to Extinction” has always been a major inspiration for me, so it actually felt nice to be able to use that trick in a natural way in a Mercenary song.”
4. Dreamstate Machine
Jakob: “This is another song that we re-wrote in the studio. At first we had a 6/8th At the Gates-kind of fast riff as an intro and as chorus, but our producer Jacob Hansen thought the song could be something else and more. I guess it’s one of our strengths this time around that we were willing to listen to that kind of feedback and to “kill our darlings” without a big fuzz, even though that can be a really big mindfuck in the studio. But Martin came up with a great new chorus that was actually grander and better, so it was definitely an improvement.
We used to refer to the song as the “Dexter song” because of the sinister, chromatic theme in the middle section. We came up with that quite early and Martin made a great symphonic orchestration to go with it, and only later on did we combine that with the rest of the song.
I think it’s very telling for this album and what it is we try to do that a song like this progresses from a raging symphonic black metal kind of atmosphere in the middle section to a big open soaring chorus in a matter of seconds at the end of the song. Many metal bands use similar contrasts to make their songs unpredictable and filled with sharp contrasts, but for us it’s much more a matter of making the progression of atmospheres feel natural and organic.”
5 . A Moment Of Clarity
René: “A modern song with a very cool opening riff with a nice transition into the verse. Lyrically the song is about waking up from a deep sleep and finally realizing how much beauty there is in the world that surrounds us, about finally being able to see things clearly for the first time, and embracing each day as if it was the last.”
6. Beyond This Night
René: “One of the more mid-tempo songs on the album and a song with a very melancholic sound. The lyrical theme is about feeling numb and not being able to see through the current state of hopelessness that we are in when dealing with sorrow, pain, distress, and trying to get back on track.”
7. Starving Eyes
Jakob: “This song was written just a few weeks before we entered the studio and the core of the song came together in just a few hours. I think it’s some of the catchiest stuff on this album and René’s vocal performance is just stellar in my opinion with a big soaring chorus that just stabs you right in the heart each and every time you hear it, especially if you’re a sentimental sucker like me. At the same time the song is a bit more light and rock inspired than the rest of the album and it has, dare I say it, an almost happy, exalted atmosphere in places. It has a piano break in the middle section which came out quite moody, and again, the contrasts of atmospheres are very defining for the song.”
8. Generation Hate
René: “This song is without a doubt the heaviest song on the album with blast beats and growling vocals, and it is a statement to all those who judge the book by its cover. It’s about not owning up to your own responsibilities and blaming everyone else for all the things that go wrong in your life. We all have a choice to make the right decisions and a choice as to what kind of person we want to be. If you show intolerance it will only be rewarded with even more intolerance. What goes around comes around.”
9. Forever the Unknown
Jakob: “Like the title track this song was very lengthy from the beginning and we were unsure if it needed to be shorter and more direct. But in the end we decided to go in the opposite direction and just let the song flow and be what it was – it’s very atmospheric and slightly progressive and the core idea of the song just seemed to require a certain duration to unfold itself naturally. The working title for this track was actually “Cynic” because we felt the song had a certain similarity to the classic song “How Could I” from Cynic’s “Focus” album. It’s of course no way near as technical or progressive, but we like to think of this as our little homage and a nod to them as Martin and I have always been huge fans of them.”
10. Holding on to Serenity
Jakob: “The way we wrote this song is probably quite symptomatic for our creative process, for good and for worse. Our drummer Peter and I jammed out the basic structure one afternoon, and we recorded the basic skeleton structure of the song. Martin quickly added some cool extra layers of guitar and then we didn’t work on the song for quite a while, almost half a year actually. It wasn’t until we entered the studio that René worked out the final vocal patterns and melodies, and it was quite hard to make the song seem natural as a whole because of the contrasts between verse, chorus and middle section. That was honestly very frustrating and hard to solve in the studio. I guess that is the price you pay as a band when you try to find your sound by mixing a lot of different influences and expressions – sometimes you cross a certain line and realize you might have gone too far in using elements that are perhaps just a bit too far off in the same song. In the end the result became quite good but we felt it was natural to use this song as a bonus track because it differs quite a bit from the other songs on the album.”