Power & beauty – the perfect coupling.
This surely will be Album of the Year for me! I think this is the closest to perfection I’ve ever heard on a melodic, progressive power metal album – a classic album for sure. When I listen to Pagan’s Mind time and space disappears…this is free floating pleasure!
I had serious problems with reviewing other albums these past few weeks – P.M. just wouldn’t leave my CD player other than going from the car to my stereo, or the other way ‘round.
There have been very few Norwegian bands in metal that were known to a larger public, except TNT and Conception. Conception was a great band of their time, but Pagan’s Mind takes it even further, building on this heritage.
Pagan’s Mind was formed in 2000, and consists of Nils K. Rue (vocals) Steinar Krokmo (bass), Ronny Tegner (keyboards), Stian Kristoffersen (drums) and Jorn Viggo Lofstad (guitars). Already from their first album “Infinity Divine” it was obvious that these guys were able to go far, and with this, their fourth opus, they’ve reached a level which is going to be very hard to surpass.
All songs on “God’s Equation” combine the very melodic and the extremely powerful in sound, mood and playing – highly dynamic from beginning to end. The band is a bit more experimental in sounds and composing than on their previous efforts – seems like they’ve matured in their style to an extent, where they dare try something different, yet staying true to their original sound and style. This is progressive metal on the highest level, with outstanding composing and playing technique, and yet with very accessible songs; they grab you from the first moment. Many of the tracks moves back and forth between full throttle ahead one moment, then melodically leaned back the next, moving on to heavy stomping – and this without sounding messy for a single moment – everything is under control.
The album starts out with a melodic intro ending with pounding drums, building up to the blasting and nearly 8 minutes long title track, followed by a straighter and probably airplay oriented heavy rock/metal tune that still doesn’t get corny. Next song, Atomic Firelight, has a breathtaking paced intro with very cool drums, and partly distorted vocals through the whole number. At the end of that track (approx. 20 minutes playing time) I’m nearly out of breath…how long can they go on in a gear like this? And then it hits me: a cover version of Bowie and Eno’s “Hello Spaceboy”, done with whirling intensity and phenomenal singing. If I was Mr. Bowie, I’d be thrilled with this version – maybe even more than a bit envious. Even though it’s a cover song it still fits the rest, with a high ground pace, a cool interlude and a very powerful end. …and the songs go on like this for the total of the one hour playing time of the record – there are no weak fillers here.
The vocals of lead singer Nils K. Rue are (as always) powerful, melodic and inspired, this time maybe even better. On this album for example “Hello Spaceboy” immediately reminded me of Queensrÿche (and in particular outstanding vocalist Geoff Tate) in their prime around Rage for Order/Operation Mindcrime. When this is the standard of measure, one has to be in perfect shape, and Nils K. Rue is to be counted among the greatest vocalists in metal with his efforts on this album.
The album is filled with broad and tense catchy melodic, sometimes even thrashy, guitar riffs and brilliant solos; the drumming is very steady and varied, with cool details and fills; and the keyboards and bass lays a solid underlying support, and contributes well to the drive of the music.
The album is produced by Stefan Glaumann (producer for Rammstein), who did a very good job with this: the sound is pounding heavy and still crisp and clear with room for every instrument to be heard.
These Norwegians have lived up to my very high expectations for this album. Their previous albums made me a devoted fan, counting them among my top5 favourite bands. If I was a great fan before, then now I must be a huge fan. Pagan’s Mind set a very high level of standard, and is in my opinion in the absolute super elite of melodic and progressive power metal bands of all times; genre defining within the style.
This album is absolutely a must-have if you’re into melodic and/or powerful metal, and if you by any chance don’t know their three previous albums, the same goes for them as well.
Recommended tracks: Absolutely all of them, I prefer them from beginning to end without stop.