I've gotten behind on my music buying, but have taken steps lately to remedy that. Looking through the various artists that are staple bands for me, there aren't that many releases I seem to have missed over the last several months... most have albums that just came out or are still future. Still my want list for music is still quite a bit bigger than it has been for a while. With the death of ALL specialist music stores in my area, I'm pretty much limited to itunes, but that service has gotten a lot better for the wacky music I consume.
Two of the albums I purchased recently are rather genre-bending so that makes them, to me, interesting enough to note briefly.
The first one is Architect of Lies by Mercenary. This is a metal band from Denmark that have have a lot of talent and are all over the map musically. They seem to mostly get labeled melodic death metal, the genre that includes In Flames, Soilwork, and Dark Tranquillity. If one were to go off this most recent record that would probably be sort of accurate. Architect of Lies mines the attributes of melo-death more than any other style and it is more prevalent here than on Mercenary's previous two albums, The Hours That Remain and 11 Dreams. Maybe that's why this album seemed to be less well received, from what reviews I've read, than the previous outings.
I like the melodeath style. For some fans it is a bit tired... very mid 90s. That was when everyone and their little cousin Edith was forming a melodic death band or changing their sound to fit the subgenre. Y'know, back before metalcore did the same thing at the turn of century. Apart from the aforementioned core melodic death bands I didn't really just buy and buy and buy it til I could puke.
Mercenary have a huge sound, epic really. Melodic death bands tend to alternate between harsh and clean vocals, but this band is kind of in a whole different league. Their clean vocals can match almost any other rock band and at times absolutely dominate the songs. The guy can get way up there. They also feature frequent intensity and tempo changes (though no odd time signatures) to the point I'd probably lump them in with progressive bands actually. This most recent album is not as varied... it is more of a one-trick melodic death pony, but I don't think that's bad. Sometimes bands, even crazy eclectic ones, need to focus. Sometimes they benefit and the fans like 'em and sometimes they don't. Architect is NOT a lot like other melodic death albums. It is still pretty progressive in places, and the vocals rock out with their cock out like one would expect if you have any experience with them. Shout out to their drummer too. Their drums seemed to be miked up a little to much at times, but the guy is a rhythm god.
So I liked Architect of Lies. No, it isn't 'just super' like The Hours That Remain, but I think anyone hating on this album was just put off that they weren't all over the map quite as much as usual. If you want heavy music, like heavier than anything on the radio, but you want variety in the music and vocal styles EARLY Mercenary is a surer ticket, but even the latest is money well spent. I'd actually like to see these guys live. Soilwork shows are incredibly energetic... almost dare I say 'danceable' for a metal concert. I wouldn't go so far as to say Mercenary would have the same effect, but I'd bet you'd come out of one feeling pretty jazzed.
Second up is a total left turn with Rotersand's Random Is Resistance. Described as electro, EBM or Futurepop by reviewers and fans, if you listen to VNV Nation or Covenant you are somewhere in the ballpark. Dark, usually danceable electronic music that's frequently in the rotation lists at goth/industrial clubs.
But here's where Germany's Rotersand is different: they like Pink Floyd. A lot.
I mean Ronan Harris of VNV Nation might like Pink Floyd, but you don't really know it from his music. Rotersand is like Ronan and David Gilmour having a love child. I know that's gross, but the listener benefits.
Not all the songs are Floydian. Rotersand's strength is in the variety. They have expansive quiet Floydian numbers, they have more typical EBM dancefloor anthems, and they have songs that would almost be straight up radio pop if it weren't for the squalling electronic underpinnings. I really like these guys because even when they do a 'typical' electro song they pull from a much bigger library for their instrumentation and melodies. Acoustic guitar in an industrial club? Rotersand'll do it. And make it work really well more often than not.
It's a little like Juno Reactor's mixing in all kind of world music, chants and percussion and still being 'cool'. Apart from being pretty sure you are going to hear something like Pink Floyd on the record, anything could be in the mix in the next song thought the band doesn't stray so far out of the EBM/Futurepop box that they are unrecognisable. They could've just done whatever crazy shit they wanted and just thrown in one or two 'clubby' songs to make sure the EBM fans keep buying them, but they aren't that nutty.
They just do the Futurepop thing really well because they aren't afraid to pull stuff from outside and make it work. Any album of theirs is highly recommended, though the first one, Truth Is Fanatic, has less variety as they were still working out their strengths.
Warning: on Random Is Resistance the song War On Error crushes all!