Pagan's Mind hails from Norway, the country that produced some of the most amazing prog metal bands ever including Conception, Ark, Spiral Architect and Divided Multitude just to name a few. Celestial Entrance is their second disc. Their first album Infinity Divine was more of a power-prog disc with clear Crimson Glory references, and produced by TNT's Ronnie LeTekro.
Celestial Entrance, production-wise and sonically, may be one of the best prog metal releases of the last 10 years. I don't think I've been amazed by just the production value of a disc so much recently. After two years of owning it I still can't believe how Fredrik Nordstrom managed to capture this vibe. It's a given that Nordstrom along with Dan Swano is one of the best producers in Sweden, but I don't think he's ever produced anything as perfect as on Celestial Entrance. I believe any prog band should give this disc at least one listen to check out the amazing production work. They may not enjoy the music for all I know, but I am positive they might learn a few things about having a very crisp, fresh and precise sound.
This album took the entire prog metal community by storm upon its release, and it was very successfully marketed by their label reaching a fairly broad audience, helping the bands popularity escalate. The power metal influences have taken a back seat on this record- Celestial Entrance is purely melodic prog metal with top notch musicianship and one of the most talented vocalists to arrive in recent years. Nils K. Rue is an excellent cross between Geoff Tate in his prime and Midnight from Crimson Glory. He can effortlessly reach the high notes letting out some of the most killer screams you will ever hear. But what's more impressive is his regular singing, and especially his low key vocal delivery. There are some processed vocals in some parts of the singing and Nils even uses some extremely harsh vocal styles bringing to mind Devin Townsend in Strapping Young Lad.
Musically the album borrows elements from the obvious Dream Theater along with Transcendence era Crimson Glory. Long, detailed and searing guitar solos are side by side with heavily orchestrated keyboards. The keyboardist trades off solos with the two guitarists but his role in the band is very integral. Not only does he provide key solos, but he also offers atmospheric textures and synths. There is a never ending emphasis on strong melodies but the heaviness and sheer power of the songs are never sacrificed. Solid bass patterns are always accompanied by crunchy guitar riffs and solos throughout each and every track. Every member has their own part in the songs and the interaction is flawless. The second half of the album relies more on melodic instrumental interplay which reaches its peak during the instrumental tracks "Back to the Magic of Childhood" part 1 and 2. This is over 12 minutes of relentless melodic fury combined with intricate musicianship. No single riff or melody, however, is abused in the name of mindless noodling. It's all done successfully within the context of the song.
The ending track "Prophecy of Pleiades" takes some of its riffs from Dream Theater's "Learning to Live" as a homage to the band. Although the DT and Crimson Glory references are evident, I somehow feel fans of Symphony X and mid-era Queensryche too might like this disc a lot. It's not because of any neoclassical melodies, but because of the extended instrumental songs with tons of melody and imoressive vocal harmonies. The album clocks in at over 72 minutes thus becoming slightly stale though far from boring. Actually I've never heard anyone complain about the running time of this release but I sometimes have difficulty playing it from start to finish. This may be the only low point for me. Other than that, I feel the future of Pagan's Mind is very bright. We'll definitely hear more from this band.
2. Through Osiris' Eyes
3. Entrance: Stargate
4. ...of Epic Questions
5. Dimensions of Fire
6. Dreamscape Lucidity
7. Seven Sacred Promises
8. Back to the Magic of Childhood: Conception, Pt. 1
9. Back to the Magic of Childhood: Exploring Life, Pt.
10. In Brilliant White Light
11. Aegean Shores
12. Prophecy of Pleiades