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FOUR WORDS: ALBUM OF THE YEAR. - 94%

panteramdeth, February 27th, 2006

Sounds like: Dream Theater and Stratovarius-influenced, high speed and high energy power-prog metal.

Have you ever experienced the feeling of meeting that special someone of the opposite sex who was not only the best-looking person you had ever seen in your life and also shared your interests, but was that someone you absolutely loved to death just for who he or she was? This is how I feel when I listen to this, because while Pagan's Mind's first two albums are also grade A-quality in my book, this band continues to get better and better with each passing album. This is one of those CD's that when I listen to it, I wonder if there is even any more room for improvement in any area of the band, their production, their songwriting, etc. etc. Pagan's Mind, without question, has a bright future, and it's only beginning as their first album only came out 4 years ago.

The Highlights: Highlights? Hell, every song! Each and every single one of them. But the songs that get my attention immediately are "Appearance / Search For Life", a two-part song which starts out as an ambient instrumental that reminds me of a crystal-clear night with shooting stars, and then by the time it ends, has a heartfelt guitar solo as the outro instrumental break. "Coming Home" is also an excellent instrmental track, with a power-metal style underlying riff / mid-tempo guitar solo on-top combination.

And like the two albums that came before this one, the real strength of Pagan's Mind is Nils K. Rue's unique singing. His tone is very difficult to compare to anyone else's I've heard, the closest comparison I can think of is perhaps former Lost Horizon singer Daniel Heiman, as both singers are capable of carrying their bands' songs practically by themselves. The songs that feature the best singing include "Supremacy, Our Kind", "Taken", the songs mentioned above as well as "New World Order".

Antoher strength Pagan's Mind have over many of their prog metal peers is their ability to combine the elements that make bands progressive in the first place, like time changes and long solos and instrumental breaks, as well as writing catchy guitar riffs and adding their own ideas into their songs without sounding too much like Queensryche and Dream Theater (more on that later.). And they are able to do these things without turning into a pretentious talent display, as well as doing these things at a very high energy level. This is a band I would love to see live because of this. Some of the songs that have the catchiest guitar riffs are "The Celestine Prophecy", with a very infectious intro riff, "Celestial Calling", and the aforementioned insturmental "Coming Home". Pagan's Mind also come up with very clever keyboard melodies that are definitely atypical of other prog metal bands with keyboards, and I don't mind them being mixed loud because of it.

All the other songs are excellent as well. Continue to expect top-shelf singing and songwriting, as well as catchy guitar and keyboard melodies.

The Lowlights: Just one question: why won't Pagan's Mind stop borrowing / paying tribute to / ripping off Dream Theater melodies? On their first album, they borrow the main riff from "The Mirror" (the same as the outro riff from "Lie") on "A New Beginning", and on Celestial Entrance, they borrow the vocal melody from the beginning of "Learning To LIve" on "The Prophecy Of Pleiades". And on this album, they once again borrow the vocal melody from "Learning To Live" on "Celestial Calling" during the breakdown part. Come on guys, I know you guys love DT as much as most other progressive metal bands out there, but you're original enough where there's no need to do this.

At least they do this for only about 30 seconds, so I'll only deduct a minimal amount of points; this makes what would be an A plus album an A album. I just hope this doesn't become an ongoing trend though for future albums from these guys.

Other than that, the song rules just like all the others on here.

I also hope that Nils' addition to Eidolon's lineup late last year doesn't make him decide to abandon Pagan's Mind permanently. He will be sorely missed, perhaps irreplaceable if he decides to leave for good (see also: Matt Barlow's departure from Iced Earth.). He's also a much better fit for Pagan's Mind than he is for Eidolon's darker, more sinister style of power - thrash.

Who this album's for: If you like power or prog metal, or even just prog rock, you'll like Enigmatic Calling for sure.

The bottom line: This is top-notch, grade-A progressive power metal, so if you download this and like it, or hear it from a friend, or whatever method you use to hear it first, by all means don't hesitate to buy it.