Released: 2005, SPV
Reviewer: Evil Rocker
This was one of those "chance albums" I picked up while I was in a mood. I had read some reviews about this progressive metal band, blah, blah, blah, but after a recent SYMPHONY X show this sounded pretty good. And in retrospect this chance was well worth it. This album is incredible! It is not a purely progressive album. It has balls through most of the CD. It has some new age concepts to the lyrics but to me it is irrelevant.
Now I will say upfront that PAGANS MIND to me is a hybrid of DREAM THEATER (50%), SYMPHONY X (25%), and CAGE (25%). Given this, you expect excellent musicianship and this is clearly present. The vocalist is strong, several notches above Labrie in aggression. The guitar player is solid. He is no Michael Romeo but he has constructed some very unusual riffs and can play a more than competent solo. The drummer also stands out in skill.
The first five tracks are flawless and have staying power. The first so-so track is 6 "Celestial Calling" where they take a more aggressive approach that does not quite work with this band. Track 7 "Taken" goes back to the sharp progressive skill set of PAGANS MIND. They end with a bang on the final long track "New World Order".
As with most progressive bands the tracks tend to be longer in the seven minute range. The only reason I did not give this a 5/5 is the overuse of the keyboard that seems largely unnecessary to me. Yes, it has a role in this style but they seem to have overused it. Otherwise, this is a stellar piece of music.