PAGAN’S MIND – God’s Equation

PAGAN'S MIND - God's Equation
  • 8.5/10
    PAGAN'S MIND - God's Equation - 8.5/10


Limb Music Products
Release date: November 9, 2007

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There’s a common feel in the music industry that a band’s 3rd album represents a critical juncture in their career. The belief is prior musical influences and initial ideas stockpiled pre-band formation have pretty much been flushed out by this time, leaving the songwriters in a position to stake claim to their own personality, relying almost entirely by that point on their own creative aptitude. Some bands over the course of history have met this challenge head on, such as Black Sabbath (Master Of Reality), Iron Maiden (The Number Of The Beast), and Queensryche (Rage For Order), while countless others have sputtered and flailed, only to fall into the throes of mediocrity thenceforward. After a very impressive Infinity Divine debut release in 2000 and a stellar Celestial Entrance follow-up in 2002, Norway’s Pagan’s Mind indeed met and exceeded expectations with a true “it’ll grow on you” masterpiece: 2005’s concept album Enigmatic: Calling, an album that displayed outstanding songwriting acumen, technically advanced musicianship, and the continued high echelon vocal capabilities of band leader Nils K. Rue. On top of all of that, the album was flat out catchy and a very “easy” listen. After knocking out those 3 releases, Pagan’s Mind were on the precipice, ready to enter the elite classification status known as “incapable of creating a ‘bad’ album” – a level of respect reserved and earned by so few bands throughout the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Fast-forward to 2007 … Pagan’s Mind is back at it with God’s Equation, an album with a provocative (yet tastefully done) cover of a naked goddess with six arms holding various religious artifacts, indeed having the first blush look like it could be another concept album … but rest assured, it is not. Instead, what’s on offer is another outstanding compilation of Progressive Metal Musical Art by Pagan’s Mind, with virtually all tracks on the album displaying their own unique personality, instead of the cohesive “ride through space merging into the creation of mankind” personality that the songs within Enigmatic: Calling generated.

The album starts out with a mellow, atmospheric instrumental track called “The Conception.” Typically an intro track is supposed to “set the mood” for an album, but this track actually sounds like it would be best suited for a Yoga session or perhaps as background music at a Day Spa whilst getting a facial, complete with a warm towel wrap and eye cucumbers. Though dreamy, this first track in no way is an indicator of what’s in store and yet to come.

Next up, the title track “God’s Equation” gets the juices flowing. There’s an impressive array of guitar tricks and licks along with power building during the intro to this song. It indeed shows that Jorn Viggo Lofstad is ready to break loose and is well on his way towards further solidifying his reputation as one of the best guitarists in Metal, demonstrating throughout this album his playing diversity while stamping claim to a very unique sound. This song’s personality has a bit of wonderment within and changes direction at various intervals, perhaps even with a melancholy touch at times, but it’s still very heavy. Overall, a great track to (sort of) open the album.

“United Alliance” and “Atomic Firelight” are next, and these may be the two best tracks on the album, which is saying quite a lot. The former features more of a polished underlying groove provided both by Lofstad and bassist extraordinaire Steinar Krokmo. This song is not nearly as complex as the title track, and Rue creates an uplifting (united?) feel via its lyrical pattern. “Atomic Firelight,” on the other hand, is a bit Thrashy (in a Progressive way) with underlying anger. As with virtually all of the songs on this album, it’s got a great chorus and introduces a few new twists to Rue’s vocal tendencies and technique.

“Hallo Spaceboy” follows, and was released in 1995 by David Bowie of all people. Although topically this song somewhat meshes into the Pagan’s Mind domain, the truth of the matter is Bowie has had bouts of just flat out being weird throughout his career, which is sometimes confused with insightfulness or artistic ability, and the lyrics to this song prove that notion. Pagan’s Mind does a great job with this song musically (and Pagan-ize it), but after you hear the line “Moondust will cover you” for about the 25th time, it gets old, and you come to realize, surprisingly, that Bowie is far from being in this band’s league conceptually. Pagan’s Mind would probably do an outstanding job at some day releasing a covers-only album, but inclusion of “Hallo Spaceboy” this time around was a mistake.

Not to worry, because the train gets back on the track with “Evolution Exceed,” a song that has an Industrial flare to it built on a Theatrical foundation. Rue experiments with distorted vocal passages that just prior to getting annoying shift into a glorious transitional chorus. Nearly pure genius, actually. Before you’re able to catch your breath, up next is “Alien Kamikaze,” which is an ultra-high energy rocker with more vocal delivery experimentation. The pace of the song and vocal urgency creates a “desperate” uneasiness within the song, and Lofstad’s varied guitar solo is the icing on the cake. Yet another great composition.

Well, no album can have all songs hitting a home run, and track 9, “Painted Skies,” displays the least amount of personality compared to its counterparts. However, “Spirit Starcruiser” creates a wonderful “space travel” atmosphere. It’s a track that easily could have fit somewhere on the Enigmatic: Calling album. The feel of this song shifts during the extended instrumental ending fade-out … kind of has you begging for more; it almost seems as if that final idea could have been the basis for another full-length track!

Approaching the end of the album is the song “Farewell,” a mellow 2:10 instrumental dedicated to former bandmate and guitarist Thorstein Aaby, who passed away on July 24, 2007 after a battle with cancer … a nice, thoughtful tribute, although strange that it wasn’t placed at the end of the record, all things considered.

Lastly, fans of Pagan’s Mind will remember and hold dearly the track of old entitled “Through Osiris’ Eyes.” Not to be filed away, the last track on God’s Equation brings Osiris back into the picture via “Osiris’ Triumphant Return.” At nearly 9 minutes in length, this track has a heavy, glorious, and triumphant feel to it, as Pagan’s Mind is so adept at pulling off. Simply a great song to round out another great Pagan’s Mind overall effort.

All in all, with now 4 quality albums under their belts, Pagan’s Mind has clearly put themselves at the top of the Progressive Metal genre. As with most Prog bands, their musical training and technical abilities are nothing short of superb. Rue and Lofstad get most of the spotlight time, but Krokmo on bass, Stian Kristoffersen on drums, and Ronny Tegner tickling the keys are outstanding musicians as well, and certainly lay down an impressive backdrop for each track on this album. Pagan’s Mind has mastered the art of variability within their brand of Progressive Metal. The trap many Prog outfits fall into is they settle into a formula that is truly unique compared to what’s available in the music industry, but from song to song, the tracks sometimes begin sounding repetitive. Pagan’s Mind avoids that trap at all costs, and is able to experiment musically while creating (especially in this album) compositions with completely unique personalities. And… in the end, isn’t uncompromising variety what Progressive music is all about? Go get your copy today …


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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