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Amongst the blossoming collection of Progressive Metal outfits hitting the scene at the turn of the millennium, Pagan’s Mind does much to distinguish itself from the fold in terms of lyrics. Bored by the endless supply of Queensryche worshippers who spend their lyrical capital commenting on politics, but also avoiding the otherworldly aspects of Fates Warning’s music, their lyrics can best be described as a lengthy set of philosophical discourses. The ancient Greeks and the Egyptian thinkers are present in their work, much like that of Virgin Steele and Symphony X, but in Pagan’s Mind we see a large musical divide between itself and these lyrically similar outfits.
Symphony X is often known for its amazing technical displays, both in the keyboard and guitar department. Pagan’s Mind explores the prowess of both instruments, but in a more reserved fashion, and focuses a bit more on the atmospheric aspects of the various synthesizer ambiences and some of the similar potentials that rest with the guitar. The solos are impressive, but they tend to stick in your head a bit more, as they are more individualistic and not so heavily Malmsteen inspired. Virgin Steele, despite having a collection of brilliant and talented musicians, primarily articulates its greatness through David Defeis’s vocals and through repetitive and catchy melodies. Pagan’s Mind has its share of vocal intrigue and memorable melodies, but the sum tends to be more massive and extravagant than a few of its parts.
The songs on here are all individual works of wonder, although when listened to from start to finish, this album can function on a conceptual level. Tracks such as “Through Osiris’ Eyes” and “Aegean Shores” are among the more accessible, containing distinct choruses and catchy progressions, yet defying the redundant structure method of your typical power metal track. “The Seven Sacred Promises” sounds heavily influenced by early Fates Warning and is probably one of the least progressive tracks on here. “Dreamscape Lucidity” and “Entrance: Stargate” are slower works, but still have a solid amount of energy and intrigue to them.
The instrumental works on here are highly impressive as well, exploiting every potential textural device and maximizing the amount of variation between a large collection of varying ideas. The album’s overture “Approaching” segues nicely into “Through Osirir’s Eyes”, yet I could get equal enjoyment out of it by hearing it by itself through random play. Both “Conception” and “Exploring Life” work well together to tell a 12 minute musical story, loaded with treats for the ears.
However, there are 3 remaining songs that truly rise above the rest of towering compositions on this opus, each in its own unique way. “Dimensions of Fire” is the most power metal song on here, complete with spoken dialogues, and a rather cliché sounding chord progression in the chorus which contains a less cliché melody. “…Of Epic Questions” is musically the most original song I have ever heard, taking a set of seemingly unrelated chords and turning them into a rather catchy yet neo-tonal work. “The Prophecy of Pleiades” is my personal favorite, and not merely because it is musically the most longwinded and ambitious among this collection. I have always had a fascination with the star formation that bears this name, in addition to M45 and The Seven Sisters, which is contained within the constellation of Taurus. These 7 stars have been the subject of much fantasy and lore due to their optical intrigue and prominence in the sky when observed with the naked eye. It makes sense that the ancients attributed such magical qualities to this group of stars, much in the same way that they are an invaluable tool for astronomers as they calculate the varying distances of cosmic phenomena.
In conclusion, this album is well worthy of all the shouts of approval that it has received from the various reviewers on this site as well as those of others. It is truly an enlightening listen, one that gives some interesting perspectives on the nature of ancient science, philosophy, and overall pagan thought. Although it is primarily geared towards an intellectually advanced audience, it can be enjoyed by fans of traditional and power metal. I am proud to give “Celestial Entrance” my endorsement, as one of the best albums to come out in 2002.