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Pagan's Mind - 'Heavenly Ecstasy' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/1f/9f/31/1364_pagansmindheavenlyecstasy_1309126994.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 26, 2011    
 
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Another stunner!

Norwegian progressive metal band Pagan's Mind have been consistently hitting the bullseye since their 2002 sophomore release 'Celestial Entrance', with both 2005's 'Enigmatic : Calling' and 2007's 'God's Equation' adding new twists to their complex, high energy sound. After almost four years of touring, writing and recording, 'Heavenly Ecstasy', their first album for the German SPV/Steamhammer label, marks another stage of their evolution with a simpler, more streamlined approach. With this album the band have reined in their progressive side and focused more on a direct hard-hitting style, whilst also managing to keep their distinctive sound intact.

Fear not, most of the PM traits that we know and love are still here, with upbeat opener 'Eyes Of Fire' having a quirky riff and huge, anthemic chorus, along with the keyboard-led verses and one of many jaw-dropping guitar solos by Jorn Viggo Lofstad. Similarly the ensuing 'Intermission' could almost be normal, high velocity power metal if it weren't for Nils K. Rue's vocal melodies and the virtuoso musicianship. The main nod to the past is the lengthy 'Revelation To The End' with its myriad of time and tempo changes, but on the other side of the coin the brilliant 'Walk Away In Silence' is a melodic Queensryche-style hard rocker with a big hook and superb dynamics, and 'Live Your Life Like A Dream' is a blues based ballad that could almost pass for AOR, and is unlike anything they've done before.

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Going back to the familiar, 'Into The Aftermath' sees them at their darkest and heaviest on the verse with processed screaming vocals, but has a soaring melodic chorus that turns the song on its head. 'Follow Your Way' has intense parts too but also has great melodies and keyboard work from Ronny Tegner, while 'Never Walk Alone' is a typically majestic Pagan's Mind album closer with many soaring highlights. The furious double bass drums of Stian Kristoffersen drive along the frantic 'The Master's Voice', but to be honest it's probably my least favourite song here, and I actually find the short and gentle 'When Angels Unite' a little bit too sentimental. The digipack and LP versions (remember them?) add two bonus tracks that I haven't yet heard as neither was on the download link I was given.

'Heavenly Ecstasy' is another well-written, immaculately played and expertly produced Pagan's Mind album (with a stellar mix from Rammstein alumni Stefan Glaumann) and probably their most accessible one so far. With incredible vocals from Nils K. Rue and plenty of goosebump moments from guitarist Jorn Viggo Lofstad, it's surely only a matter of time until the rest of the world catches on to this Norwegian phenomenon. I know I've said this before but I'll keep on saying it until it happens. Another stunner!

Phil Ashcroft

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