"Heavenly Ecstasy"

By Dr. Abner Mality

I think Norway is getting ready to kick black metal to the curb. It looks like the land of burning churches has finally escaped the shadow of corpse painted ghouls and is ready to explode into a vibrant and multi-faceted scene. Raw punk-influenced bands such as Kvletertak are making great strides but Norway also has an active progressive metal scene. With "Heavenly Ecstasy" by Pagan's Mind, that scene looks set to burst the dam and hit the rest of the world.

This is an absolutely SUPERB progressive power metal album that meets and surpasses the highest marks of the genre. It's the work of six master musicians who are each firing on all cylinders throughout "Heavenly Ecstasy" and who are pushing the bounds of both power and melody. I've heard the band's name before but never sampled them until now. Gonna have to dig up some old Pagan's Mind for sure, now! The production here is beyond excellent...the balance of each instrument in the mix is perfect. Nobody gets crowded out, everybody has a place to shine. The most noticeably outstanding element of Pagan's Mind is singer Nils K. Rue...what a god-like voice this guy has got. A name to file next to Jorn Lande, Russell Allen and Edu Falaschi in the power metal vocal master sweepstakes. He even indulges iin some growls and effective black metal shrieks! But rich, golden melodies predominate. The drumming of Stian Kristofferson is fierce and precise and gives this band a huge dose of energy. Needless to say, the guitar and keyboard work is equally stellar.

The songs? Where to start? "Into The Aftermath" and "Revelation To The End" are two epic monsters full of HEAVY groove, progressive arrangements and injections of almost AOR melody. These are truly great tunes!  "Intermission", "Follow Your Way" and "The Master's Voice" all hit hard and fast on the metal side of the spectrum, close to Symphony X in style but still uniquely Pagan's Mind. "Walk Away In Silence" is heavy but tuneful while "Live Your Life Like A Dream" is melodic hard rock bliss that would warm the heart of many a fan of Journey or Kansas. "When Angels Unite" is a short, sweet ballad and "Never Walk Alone" brings the album to a close with an orgy of powerful lead guitar and a sound pretty close to Jorn's best. Not forgetting the punchy power metal of opening cut "Eyes of Fire"!

No, not an album for the rabid thrashing boozehound or hardcore pit warrior, but "Heavenly Ecstasy" is going to be the melodic power metal hit of the year unless the upcoming Symphony X can topple it. An outstanding record!