|Review: Pagan's Mind - God's Equation|
Label: Limb Music Products
Year released: 2007
Genre: Progressive Metal
Review online: April 9, 2008
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Rated 3.38/5 (67.59%) (29 Votes)
I don't think I've ever witnessed a band metaphorically shooting themselves in the collective foot like this; not to this level. Pagan's Mind were on top of their game with 2005's Enigmatic : Calling, which, while not progressing very far from the sound the band had crafted over the years, was a stunning refinement of that style, boasting a commendable improvement in almost every area - a gestalt of complex and memorable songwriting. I have no idea what happened to them after that, but apparently the fame got to their heads, as their newest effort God's Equation is nothing short of mediocre.
I don't hate this album, but at the same time, I can't help myself in beating it up a bit. I mean, sure, they haven't totally lost it, but they sure did come close with this one. The grooving, outer space rhythms are there, the heavy riffs are in place, Nils K. Rue's heavenly vocals are as soaring as they ever were (although his style of singing has certainly taken a blow; he is now merely annoying and much less glorious), and the solos are still impressive as hell, but something is missing. The songs here feel incredibly half baked, with even good songs like the title track and "Evolution Exceed" being songs that the band would've put on the B-side of a single back in 2002, and the rest of the album being painfully lame in most respects. There is evidence of the band's attempts to progress forward here, with an added semblance of 80s electropop and a few more modern industrialized riffs and harsh vocals, but it's not done right. The Pagan's Mind of old could have definitely woven these influences into a good song, but then again, the Pagan's Mind of old would never have tried that anyway. I don't want to sound like I'm criticizing the band for trying new things, but it literally sounds like they've taken the blueprint for Celestial Entrance and haphazardly thrown these influences into the mix, with no regard at all for good song structuring. The musicianship is as proficient as ever, but we've all heard it before - there's no interesting riff patterns or cascading guitar harmonies to be found here as there were on the previous Pagan's Mind albums, and Jorn Viggo Lofstad is strangely subdued here. I never thought I'd have a Pagan's Mind album without a few memorable licks from this guitar prodigy, but here it is anyway, proving that anything is possible.
Pagan's Mind in the past were a good band not for their sparkling innovations, but for the simple fact that they could really put together a great song in general and draw the listener in almost immediately - while still writing songs that would grow on you with each passing listen. God's Equation has none of that. Oh, it is indeed very catchy, perhaps moreso than anything they've ever done, but it's also a more lightweight, jokey affair, without most of the epic grandeur they had in the past, and it's almost impossible to take the band seriously after hearing Nils belt out the vocal lines to the David Bowie cover "Hallo Spaceboy" over those boobidy-boo 80s synths. Pretty gay, if you ask me.
Oh, and the lyrics all suck this time around. Pagan's Mind never did have the most amazing lyrics ever, but they were at least thought-provoking and well written, if not revolutionary. The lyrics on this album sound like they were written in 20 minutes before the band started recording. Seriously, guys, cut the shit - these lyrics sound like material for a bad B sci-fi flick. I'm all for having fun with what you love, but that doesn't mean that sacrificing musical integrity is okay! Start a side project for this crap, guys, because I'm not laughing.
It's really pretty sad, because this album is in no way, shape or form a bad album. There are shimmering moments here, as is evident in the title track, being a majestic, searing number with a huge chorus and all the idiosyncrasies that a Pagan's Mind song should have. If the whole album were like this, I'd no doubt give it a perfect score, but sadly that was not meant to be. "Painted Skies" and "Spirit Starcruiser" are good songs, with the former having just about the best performance from Nils K. Rue on this entire album, and the latter boasting a commendably original songwriting structure and vocal performance. But everything else is just weak. "Evolution Exceed" is a pretty standard Pagan's Mind song, with a speedy tempo and a cool chorus (although it's probably been used by them in the past). "Atomic Firelight" is okay, with heavier riffs and some harsher vocals, but it sounds forced and contrived, like the band didn't quite know what they were doing. "United Alliance" is catchier than AIDS, yet it's also the most boring and predictable song they've ever written. The closing epic "Osiris' Triumphant Return" is okay, but it lacks any sort of hook or anything to make you want to listen again.
This album is like junk food: sugary-sweet, addictive, yet not at all good for you; a cheap alternative to a better, more classy dish - in this case, Pagan's Mind's last three albums. Get it if your standards are lower than mine.
|Other related information on the site|
|Review: Celestial Entrance (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)|
Review: Celestial Entrance (reviewed by ShadowsFall)
Review: Enigmatic:Calling (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: God's Equation (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: Heavenly Ecstasy (reviewed by Adam Kohrman)
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