Norwegian Progressive Power Metallers PAGANS MIND have received quite some flak for their latest effort “God’s Equation”, so I was eager to hear, if these complaints are actually reasonable or not, especially as I’ve been a huge fan ever since their debut “Infinity Divine”. Well, even though I might not like all songs contained on “God’s Equation”, I still love this album, for several reasons.
For one the Norwegians still have their whole “Stargate” thing going, which translates in both the visual as well as the musical side, as in a somewhat futuristic sound here and there, especially through the use of the keyboards, which conjure up this spacy feeling, while the guitars also have a modern touch, but without dragging down the quality of the music (does it show that I am not a big fan of the modern trends?). The one absolutely defining factor still stands behind the microphone: Nils K. Rue, whose clear and strong voice had been one of the trademarks of PAGANS MIND’s sound ever since the beginning and that has not changed. Even when the song gets more progressive or more modern, he’s the glue that holds it together and keeps things catchy and accessible, which always has been one thing about this band, despite progressive rhythms and changes, once his voice comes in, it all gels.
Another trademark of the Norwegians are the incredible melodies and soaring choruses and you don’t have to look any further than „United Alliance“, which is one hell of a song, in the chorus almost with an AOR quality, because it’s so smooth, but that’s part of the treat, and no worries, we still get heavy guitars and some spacy excursions. One of the songs that got some bad rep is “Atomic Firelight” and I can only chime in here. Blastbeats, distorted vocals, it just does not work, no matter how hard you’d try... Another one that is an experiment, is “Hello Spaceboy”, a David Bowie cover, and I think that it works out perfectly, both the space theme and also the execution, I’ve always been a sucker for interesting cover versions and this one definitely falls into this category!
“Evolution Exceed” is another one of those, futuristic verse and all, but then a chorus of extreme clarity and catchiness, it is impossible to tear yourself away from this without getting enthralled and I, who normally does not like the futuristic stuff or science-fiction, love it in this context! And rarely has a PAGANS MIND song borne a more fitting title than closer “Osiris’ Triumphant Return”, which unites everything the band stands for, combining influences from Power Metal, Progressive Metal, certain symphonic qualities and these slightly Egyptian-influenced melodies, these almost nine minutes fly by like they were nothing.
So everything is hunky dory with the exception of “Atomic Firelight”? Well, not every song keeps the same high level, but while “God’s Equation” might not be PAGANS MIND’s strongest album to date, it still is no disgrace to the band history at all and if you have songs like “United Alliance” or “Evolution Exceed” in your entourage, how wrong can you go?
(Online June 10, 2008)