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Saving Prog From Progressing, One Note at a Time! - 40%

OlympicSharpshooter, March 5th, 2008

To tell the truth, if there's ever been one thing absolutely everyone in the world can agree upon, it's that prog metal has been getting too far away from the purpose of its existence: billions of notes, convoluted sci-fi/fantasy lyrics, nasal Geoff Tate-impression vocals and clacky triggered drums. I mean, maybe it's just me, but I've noticed that there just aren't enough bands out there writing multiple seven-plus minute magnum opuses (opi?) per album these days, not enough reasons to spend hours weeping over my guitar because I can't quite master augmented sweep-picking or Phrygian mode. In short, too many progressive people are turning into that most dreaded of character... the songwriter. Personally, I blame Bob Dylan. His 'Dylan goes (to) music school' period (it was between “Dylan goes electric” and “Dylan goes Hawaiian-Style”), where he demonstrated the viability of lyrically expressive folk songs in 15/9 just ruined prog. (And frankly I suspect the guitar solos were sped up on "Through the Times They Are A-Flamin'" because he totally can't pull off those pull-offs live, but that's neither here nor there.)

So thank God for Pagan's Mind, a band who fly in the face of emotional connectivity, bravely flout the creeping infection of restraint and generally give a hearty "UP YOURS!" to so-called 'original ideas'. These guys know exactly what their fans want: Dream Theater's Images & Words without all the sissy memorable melodies. You see, if you can't remember anything that happens on the album, every time you listen to it it's like it's brand new. Every time I listen to a song like "Supremacy, Our Kind" my mind can be freshly sodomized by the technically amazing technicality of the solos, my interest in computers piqued by the inhumanly Pro Tooled rawk guitar tones, my inner mainstream music fan placated by the bizarrely Marilyn Manson-ish distorted vocals at the beginning and the post-Queensrÿche god complex chorus arrangements! And what's more, I can do it seven more times because almost all of the other songs (save the two brief instrumentals [which are not nearly long enough] and “Search for Life” [which is slow and therefore demonstrates how much range they have]) are unbelievably, equally the same! I was really afraid that I'd only get to hear really fast solos and incomprehensible quasi-metaphysical poetry once, but that was proven unfounded.

And speaking of those lyrics, I really like stories that I can read over and over again until I imagine they make sense! It's almost like a creative writing exercise, and then I can go share my ideas on my forum and make fun of n00bs who claim that this passage is simply generic sub-Helloween fluff:

Nine Insights will lead the way
To transform as One
Charging mass consciousness
Twelve tribes of Israel

In fact, Pagan's Mind have just outlined the way to bring peace to the Middle-East. Unfortunately normal people won't understand because it has numerology and it is therefore too complicated.

If I were forced to isolate one particular passage to illustrate why Enigmatic : Calling is so terrific it’d be 4:45 - 5:05 of “Enigmatic Mission”. It’s at this point that Pagan’s Mind epoch-defining philosophy is best given purely musical form. I’m going to have to go into some complex academic language here to make my point, so try not to get too lost. Now, there used to be this kraut named Nietzsche, who said a bunch of stuff about the abyss looking back at you when you look at it, which is because it has a Balrog in it (see Tolkien for more info). Another guy named Kierkegaard read Nietzsche, and posited that humans have to take what he called a “leap of faith” over the abyss (because of the Balrog). Pagan’s Mind take this a step further here by leaping over the selfish demands of listeners looking for musical coherence by all abandoning the riff as one and playing whatever they want. I admire this kind of rugged individualism, which is very reminiscent of the works of Karl Marx and Mary Tate Engels. Also of note is the rather ominous and baroque keyboard solo at the beginning of “Taken” and the weird spacey keyboards droning in the background of “Resurrection (Back in Time)”, which sounds a bit like a movie soundtrack. This of course means that Pagan’s Mind consider their music to be on a par with narrative films like “StarGate” and “The Matrix”, which are awesome.

Personally, I think Enigmatic : Calling is a real watershed moment for metal because not only does it sound a lot like their previous two albums, it also sounds a lot like Images & Words or Metropolis Part II: Scenes from a Memory. Sounding a lot like old Dream Theater albums is key for progressive metal, because otherwise it wouldn’t be progressive. In fact, the only complaint I can really make about the album is that the songs in general are not as long as Dream Theater’s are and the solos are slightly less disruptive. But of course, Pagan’s Mind are their own very unique band that sound like Dream Theater and it would be unfair to continually describe them as a heavier version of old Dream Theater. I think it’s unfair that people always feel the need to talk about Dream Theater in Pagan’s Mind reviews.

I will now close off the review with an Important quotation because Pagan’s Mind are an Important band.

The eminent street poet of our generation, Eminem, once said “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo.” Well, that may be true for most, but I am sure Pagan’s Mind will have the opportunity to blow over and over again.

Stand-Out Tracks: Oh, all of them. But especially the fast ones with sweet keyboards, drums, guitars and vocals.