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Celestial masterwork - 98%

Writhingchaos, May 18th, 2016

Ahh good old power/prog. I’ve always found it incredible that here is one niche in the world of metal that is quite accessible for both the old school metal fans plus the newer 2000s breed of fans, but strangely enough as a genre, it seems to be quite hard to actually get into or dig on a daily basis. I hate to say this, but more than often you’ll probably end up hearing “It’s too cheesy/happy/uplifting to actually be called metal” and that “It works as good background music, but nothing else really”. Well having said that, all you elitists out there can safely keep that sad opinion to yourselves and miss out on some of the best metal music out there. Perfectly fine by me. These guys along with Circus Maximus are the real deal as far as Norwegian power/prog is concerned. Even the intro song “Approaching” is brilliant and unlike other bands who use it only for the purpose of being a space filler, this song has an amazing spacey atmosphere (well the whole album does actually) and builds up the first song beautifully and “In Brilliant White Light” is also another beautifully heartfelt interlude with some amazing piano.

Talking of the spacey atmosphere I really don’t think any other song portrays that atmosphere better than the epic closer “The Prophecy Of Pleiades” with some epic vocal lines along with face-stomping riffs laden with a touch of the silken keys. There are even a few instances of computerized clean vocals especially in the first song “Through Osiris’ Eyes” which is one hell of an opener with a ripping solo to boot. “Entrance: Stargate” and “Dreamscape Lucidity” have some amazing duel vocal harmonies with a throwback to the iconic prog/power acts of the 80s, namely Crimson Glory and Fates Warning. “The Seven Sacred Promises” has some of the best vocal and guitar melodies on the entire album plus “Dimensions Of Fire” has one of the best guitar solos I’ve heard in a while; a bursting flood of melody, shred and feel. If you want more of the power metal influence with some heavy riffs “Aegean Shores” will suit you just fine with a killer progressive break at 3:14. I could go on and on, but I think you get the drift.

Nils Rue has one of the best voices in prog with a smooth crystalline tone really giving him an edge over other such vocalists in the prog realm. It may not be exceptional or fabulous in the sense, but boy is his voice good. Where other acts focus more of overwrought displays of instrumental virtuosity or riffing, Pagan’s Mind focus more on the unique atmosphere generated by their music plus no instrument overshadows the other (namely the guitar, which in the case in a lot of prog metal as far as excessive wankery is concerned) and every instrument has its proper and equal place. Also because of the power/prog tagline, their music is a hell of a lot more catchy than the straightforward prog acts with the help of infectious melodies that (good) power metal is known for. And fuck no, I ain’t talking about DragonForce and their shitty ilk. Seriously, if you have no idea about what good power metal is all about, kindly get schooled first and then come back to this review. Go on, I’ll be right here.

What I particularly like about this album is that it does pay homage to the great bands of the 80s, namely Queensryche, Crimson Glory and the like but not in a plagiarizing sense. Rather a subtle influence is interwoven among several of the songs along with their hard-hitting riffs and catchy vocal melodies that a lot of the prog bands out there seem to have (unfortunately) forgotten about. And the best part which is the case for most of the classic albums out there; each song stands out by itself yet adds to the bigger picture of the album. Sure a few might drag on a bit more than necessary (Back To The Magic Of Childhood Part 2 being the only slight offender in this case, in spite of being a good song otherwise) but the rest of the album is so goddamn dope that I can easily overlook that little detail.

If you remotely consider yourself a fan of either progressive metal or power metal, you definitely need this album. Period.