Pagan's Mind - God's equation 3/5

Reviewed: 1-25-08


1. The conception
2. God's equation
3. United alliance
4. Atomic fireflight
5. Hallo spaceboy
6. Evolution exceed
7. Alien kamikaze
8. Painted skies
9. Spirit starcruiser
10. Farewell
11. Osiris' triumphant return

This CD has been taking a bit of a kicking since its release, and mostly from Pagan's Mind fanboys at that. The problem, it would seem, is that in putting a band on a pedestal quite as high as the Norwegian progressive power outfit were to be found means that even a slight deviation from their perceived perfection is going to seem like a massive fall.

Personally, I never fully bought into the hype around the band, so while this 4th CD, 'God's equation' is their weakest to date – that much I won't contest – it hardly deserves to be consigned as a crushing disappointment.

The previous 3 CDs Pagan's Mind have released were certainly superb examples of progressive power metal, mixing the 2 elements better than most bands can manage. They successfully captured and equally balanced the technical superiority of prog and the soaring epic nature of power metal, and bound them seamlessly together with a somewhat unique spacey atmosphere.

They also were remarkably consistent, and this is where 'God's equation' falls down. For the first time on a Pagan's Mind CD, there are a couple of songs that just aren't very good, and a couple more that are just plain annoying. The opener pairing of "The conception" and "God's equation" are particularly strong, embodying all the greatness a listener could come to expect from Pagan's Mind on top form. Similarly, the grand closing epic "Osiris' triumphant return" is close to spectacular.

Unfortunately, it becomes clear early on that something didn't exactly go to plan this time around, with things taking a bit of a stumble in the middle of the CD. "Atomic firelight" starts promisingly, but is hamstrung by a weak chorus backed by an irritating, rock-ish descending chord progression. It is immediately followed by the David Bowie cover "Hallo spaceboy", which is exactly as out-of-place as it sounds.

"Evolution exceed" also suffers to a degree – the nice, melodic chorus and the unexpectedly aggressive riff are undercut by a section of the song featuring an irksome hissy keyboard pattern and an overuse of the filtered vocal sound the band have used from time to time in the past; the effect is in fact used far too often across the full CD, and detracts somewhat from Nils K. Rue's excellent vocal performance.

Rue is at his very best on "Painted skies", a quirky, meandering offering with a gentle, soothing chorus. The CD is completely at odds with the more aggressive tunes like "Alien kamikaze" (which is also a bit of a misfire despite a thumping pre-chorus), and captures the trademark outer space vibe perfectly.

'Hit and miss' is a hoary old cliché that suits 'God's equation' down to the ground. Some new influences and some uninspired songwriting hamper the CD - but while it is not a struggle to listen to from start to finish, it is hardly a joy either. The end result is merely acceptable. If you are of the opinion that Pagan's Mind are the best thing since sliced bread, then only the power of denial will stop this coming as a massive let-down – more casual listeners can probably dismiss this drop in quality with a shrug of faint disappointment.




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