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Oh grow up you drama queens. - 91%

hells_unicorn, January 17th, 2011

I have found myself in an all too familiar position once again, denouncing the majority of voices in the critical field of metal. This is almost akin to what I experienced when reading all of the glowing reviews of “St. Anger” and then proceeding to actually listen to it, except in this case it’s in the opposite respect. I don’t know what album everyone that I read 3 years ago was listening to, but it sure as hell wasn’t the one I heard when I popped in my newly acquired used copy of “God’s Equation” a week ago. And for the general information of anyone who is curious, I elected to forgo getting this album new when it came out based on the reviewers who got it dead wrong yet again.

To state the obvious, Pagan’s Mind plays a rather brilliant hybrid of melodic and hopelessly catchy power metal with a somewhat humbler variant on the technically indulgent take on progressive metal found in Dream Theater. The unique quirk of this band is that in addition to writing lyrics about interstellar phenomena, their unique mix of spacey guitar tones and nebulous synthesizer landscapes literally sound like a voyage across the cosmos. Technical precision and tightness are a key element in bridging the gap between the through-composed tendency of 7 minute plus progressive epics and accessible songwriting, and this has been an area where this band stands above most. This is clearly displayed throughout their small, but far from modest discography.

If there is any divide between “God’s Equation” and past work, it is found in the fast and frenetic character that dominates much of the album, hearkening back to the most agitated aspects of “Infinity Divine” with a slightly heavier character. Jorn Lofstad is slightly more restrained in the lead guitar department, but still in top form when he cuts lose, and tends to go for a more riff happy rhythm approach. The real person that seems to be commanding the album is Nils Rue, who has always offered a chillingly powerful rendition of Geoff Tate meets Ray Adler, but throws about twice the emotional intensity on here and occasionally goes slightly overboard on the dramatics. But it all fits together nicely since the whole album is geared towards a much more aggressive character, not to mention one that showcases the guitar work in a more dominant part in the mix and the keyboards slightly downplayed.

From song to song, this album is a consistent exercise in astronomical extravagance, although it’s more in the mode of an intergalactic armada heading off to war rather than an epic quest into the secrets of the universe. When things go long, in stark contrast to “Enigmatic: The Calling”, the band doesn’t coast along and dwell for several minutes on serene atmospherics, but continually revisits what any black blooded fan of metal wants, hard hitting poundage from all angles. “God’s Equation” and “Osiris’ Triumphant Return” both exemplify this multifaceted, yet mostly rock solid approach to quick development rather than slow progression. It’s hard to decide which one is the better song, although the latter definitely has the edge in terms of technical elements and number of ideas. Likewise, “Atomic Firelight” and “Alien Kamikaze” show a band that is giving a go at mixing in some more extreme metallic elements, particularly from the thrash and industrial side of the spectrum, while still maintaining that progressive rock tendency in the midst of all the punishingly heavy riffs and harsh vocal interchanges.

Contrary to the general sentiments of the Pagan’s Mind fan boy crowd, who have for some odd reason panned this as some sort of failure, this is actually slightly better than their last album and just a tinge behind their first two. I can’t help but feel cheated out of 3 years of enjoying this album thanks to my heeding what turned out to be erratic PMS fits on the part of most web-zine writers when they reviewed this, but I am content to have at least managed to pick it up since and be reminded once again why listening to critics is not always the best idea, especially when a great band like this is involved. If you’ve not gotten this album yet, or find yourself not liking it, just make sure it wasn’t because somebody else’s desire to hear the exact same album as the previous 3 told you so.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on January 17, 2011.