Released: 2011, SPV
Every single band loves their new album. How could they not, they just wrote and recorded it! It’s natural to be happy and excited. Accordingly, in every interview a band will proudly and confidently state, ‘This is our best album yet’, or some variation of that statement. It has become so commonplace that if a band does NOT say it’s their best album ever, I get suspicious. I think the only time I ever read or heard something different was an interview with Lemmy of Motorhead who said (roughly paraphrased) ‘It’s just another Motorhead album’. I can respect that.
When I was reading pre-release statements from Pagan’s Mind about HEAVENLY ECSTACY where they said, "I'm really really excited. I have great belief in it, I think the material is extremely strong and that it represent sort of a 'comeback' since it been over three years since GODS EQUATION. I am sure both fans of Pagan’s Mind and people who haven't heard us before will appreciate it a lot." (Blabbermouth, April 15th) I am so used to reading similar comments from every band, I wasn’t even bothered to be skeptical.
One thing did catch my eye. The band said they have stripped away some of the progressive elements, which struck me as odd. In my estimation they have not only stripped away the progressive elements they truly have delivered the best album of their career. I’m thoroughly impressed. I enjoy Pagan’s Mind and have followed them for well over 10 years since I bought SINK OR SWIM on back in 1999 when they were still known as Silverspoon. This isn’t idle ‘metal cred’ bragging, I’m just saying I know the band’s music and this new album HEAVENLY ECSTACY is something else; something bigger and better.
I can tell you something else, die-hard fans of the band that loved the Progressive elements of Pagan’s Mind are not going to immediately like this album. It is a big stylistic change that will alienate some fans and potentially draw in a whole new group of listeners. Even I was surprised at the diversification in style, which ties this long-winded review and intro back to my original point, namely they have taken a chance, stated it upfront, and in my (pagan) mind a brave, adventurous gamble that for me has really paid off.
HEAVENLY ECSTACY has far more dynamic range than ever before. They are darker, heavier, faster, meaner AND simultaneously lighter, more melodic, more engaging and mellower. The album actually is quite schizophrenic at times. Fast slow, heavy, light all in the same song but somehow retaining a sense of melody and harmony. There are guitar tones heard on this album like the solo mid-section of the 8 minute cut called, ‘Revelation To The End’. I’m hearing Eddie Van Halen style tapping, Ronnie Le Tekro (TNT) style picking and Zakk Wylde pinch squeal harmonics all crammed into the same song!
Other newer, different elements for the band are very guttural vocals, used sparingly, some minor industrial hints songs like ‘The Master’s Voice’ sounds like the third Shotgun Messiah album, VIOLENT NEW BREED. I’m totally serious! It’s a very heavy song for them, a real change, just skull-crushingly good! But man, it’s gonna piss off the legions of keyboard lovin’ Dream Theater dudes! Nils K. Rue I think has put his finest and strongest, most diverse vocal performance to date. I didn’t think he could sing that low or gruff. The whole band is on fire shredding at times or at other times letting a beautiful song (like the mid-tempo semi-ballad, ‘Never Walk Alone’ complete with harmonized vocals and acoustic piano) breathe a moment of humanity into a verse dense and intense album. It’s truly impressive, the blending of melody and intensity.
HEAVENLY ECSTACY has very quickly become my favorite Pagan’s Mind album. My personal enjoyment aside, I’m very curious to hear how other Pagan’s Mind fans embrace this new direction and style. Hopefully everyone will appreciate this exciting new album.