Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Pagan's Mind - Heavenly Ecstasy CD (album) cover


Pagan's Mind

Progressive Metal

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
4 stars Pagan's Mind, one of Norway's most famous progressive power metal acts, has been slowly shedding away their progressive past in favor of a more straightforward melodic power metal approach. Heavenly Ecstasy, the band's fifth studio album, shows this trend continuing and essentially reaching "full circle" - this is a catchy, memorable, and easily accessible melodic power metal album... but with a twist. Rather than coming across as cheesy or relying too heavily on hooks, Pagan's Mind still manages to create intricate compositions that don't lose their luster even after repeated listens. If you're a fan of mildly progressive power metal, Heavenly Ecstasy should prove to be one of the best albums 2011 has to offer. This is a well-played, well-composed, and irresistible album that has consistently left me impressed after every spin!

The music here is melodic power metal with a few progressive touches. The only song I'd really consider a full-blown prog metal track is "Revelation to the End", but even that's a borderline case. Most songs are characterized by Ronny Tegner's synth work; people who are allergic to heavy layers of keyboards may have an issue with that aspect of the album. I happen to think his playing is extremely tasteful and it is a very big part of what makes Heavenly Ecstasy so great. Most of the songs are extremely memorable and "grab you" from the very first listen. Although music this accessible often tends to warrant very few replays, Heavenly Ecstasy contains enough variation to still impress after many spins. This is an album that is just overflowing with memorable and high-quality compositions, and the execution is equally superb. The production was initially a bit of an issue for me (especially the effects done to Nils K. Rue's vocals), but I've grown to enjoy it more over time. And, of course, the musicianship is top-notch across the board.

Similarly to Evergrey's 2011 album, Heavenly Ecstasy may very well alienate the progressive-minded section of Pagan's Mind's fanbase. Pagan's Mind seems to have left behind much of their progressive metal influence in favor of a melodic power metal sound - although this may be a bad thing for some, these Norwegian veterans deliver the sound so professionally and memorably that it's difficult not to be impressed. If you're somebody who enjoys the European power metal scene, Heavenly Ecstasy isn't something to miss out on. 4 stars are well-deserved.

Report this review (#437289)
Posted Thursday, April 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Heavenly Ecstasy' - Pagan's Mind (6/10)

The early half of 2011 has brought light to some fairly disappointing albums by bands I once held in a much higher regard. Groups which once really impressed me with their thoughtful music now seem to be dumbing the music down, be it the Decemberist's latest folk-rock travesty 'The King Is Dead', or- in the case of metal- Evergrey's 'Glorious Collision'. Norway's premier melodic progressive metal act Pagan's Mind has never been one to really push the envelope, but I've always found that they were able to couple their melodic intent with excellent songwriting and some unpredictable, exciting segments. 'Heavenly Ecstasy' may seem on first glance like the band trying to push their sound; the bright red cover automatically sets it aside from the traditionally blue album art of their past. However, while Pagan's Mind is still no pushover when it comes to strong melodic metal, the music here shows their music being simplified and streamlined to the point where the album feels as if it adds very little, if anything to the band's canon, despite keeping their playing chops intact.

Even from the first listen to each song from 'Heavenly Ecstasy', it is very much a case of deja-vu. Although it has been a four year interval between this and the previous album 'God's Equation', there is no impression that the band has taken that time to cultivate their sound into something more distinctive. If anything, Pagan's Mind has seen fit to make their sound more heavily driven by melody over any other aspect of the music. Although 'God's Equation' still felt like the instruments played a very important role throughout the music despite the highly melodic direction of the music, 'Heavenly Ecstasy' does often feel as if the riffs are far too derivative from everything the band has done in the past. This is all the more disappointing in Pagan's Mind's case, due to the fact that even here, they prove themselves to be incredibly good musicians. In most of the tracks here, Lofstad enjoys some ample time to dish out a guitar solo or two, which tends to go down a beautifully melodic road. For much of the rest of the time though, the songs are kept generally straightforward, depending greatly on the vocal delivery of singer Nils K. Rue, who performs admirably here, but- like much of 'Heavenly Ecstasy'- he seems to be pulling out old tricks his typically powerful vocal melodies have been riding on for years, and making little effort to give them a new, relevant touch-up.

What Pagan's Mind may lack here in innovation though, they do make it clear from the start that they are very good at what they do. Although almost every song here goes down a similar route in terms of emotional approach and sound, the melodies are some of the best you're going to hear out of 2011's power metal output. Thanks in no small part due to Rue's powerful voice, the music maintains a great feeling to it, although it does feel often as if Pagan's Mind has finally reached the point where their music begins to lose its current relevance.

Report this review (#439837)
Posted Wednesday, April 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars And yes,yes and yes again!One of the most anticipated new releases of 2011,the new PAGAN'S MIND album is here!The wait has been quite long,but it plenty worth it,because under all aspects this new material doesn't dissapoint at all!!On the contrary-it's plenty of the well known ingredients that made PAGAN'S MIND to be one of the surest European values in prog metal!Hard to say if this album is prog metal or metal progressive,well,in fact it doesn't matter so much,all I can say is that HUMAN EQUATION is a damn good album!Being fan of this band since the beginning of the story,I can say that after the dissapointing GOD'S EQUATION it must have been impossible for the guys to make a new weak material!This album is the fruit of 4 years of hard work and the result it at the level of our expectations!The melodic side is really impressive,the magic of Jorn's guitar solos is present and Nils vocals are close to perfection!The only minus of the album is,in my humble opinion,the over produced voice-with too many effects and synthetic modulations,and this thing is giving sometimes the feeling that Nils is a robot!Quite funny,isn't it?The music is very melodic orientated,with some superbe choruses and great,great inspiration for the compositions!Fantastic druming aswell and the production is absolutelly stunning!Close to perfection!The LIMITED EDITION is 100 % worth to be bought because of the 2 great extra tracks and the poster!The artwork is sexy and attractive,beautifully couloured and very catchy!Difficult to find a weak song,the top quality of all the compositions is impressive!Thinking at the previous albums,it's quite impossible to think that the Norwegians could be able to produce a second CELESTIAL ENTRANCE or ENIGMATIC CALLING,because this 2 albums are simply PERFECT!But,this new musical try is really a major success and will reconfirm the guys the status that they already have! Congratulations for such an excellent album and 4.5 STARS for this superbe musical jewel!
Report this review (#456954)
Posted Saturday, June 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Good prog metal! The first thing that caught my attention on this album was the cover, but not the cover itself, but the fact that it is the first Pagan's Mind cover art without the blue color on it; now it is red, don't really know the motif but it looks like a fresh and new direction.

Pagan's Mind are a well-known (can be better known, actually) progressive metal band from Norway; they started at the beginning of this century and have been together for more than ten years so far. "Heavenly Ecstasy" released this 2011 is their fifth studio album, featuring eleven compositions that make a total time of 56 minutes.

It kicks off with "Contact", a one-minute introduction that serves as the first contact (pun intended) with the band. There are some noises that gradually progress until ""Eyes of Fire" begins. This is a cool first (full) song, I like the keyboard introduction and the power the music shares. Later it slows down, changes direction and vocals appear. Then the song repeats itself until it finishes.

"Intermission" does not really attract me. It reminds me to some power metal bands whose sound may be plain and easy to dig, I don't think this is Pagan's Mind's goal, but nonetheless anyone who likes that type of metal will surely like this. "Into the Aftermath" has a cool repetitive sound; the line is actually the same but this time the song is powerful and creates that sense of power to the listener, me in this case. The vocals are pretty good, but when the singer screams it loses its beauty; the drums always accurate and there is a cool guitar work. I like the change of direction at two and a half minutes, that moment when keyboards appear and give entrance a great solo. Later it slows down, and the music is being rebuilt. Cool track.

"Walk Away in Silence" is another catchy song, here I would not categorize it as a true metal song, I would say it is a hard rock one. There is a nice guitar solo after four minutes, the rhythm is slower than the previous songs, but the power is still present. Reminds me to some 80s bands, honestly.

"Revelation to the End" is the longest composition here, reaching almost nine minutes, and I dare say this is their most ambitious track. What I like here is the intercalation of long instrumental passages with great guitar riffs, and those passages with vocals, creating a equality in the sound and in the division of the song. One can also appreciate the mixture of that power metal sound, with progressive metal, with hard rock. I know this "labeling" thing may not help a lot, but I can distinguish its different moments.

"Follow Your Way" has a pretty good keyboard beginning, then a raw and strong bass and guitar sound appears for some seconds, just before the vocals enter and create new nuances. This is a very good track, well elaborated with nice colors and textures created mainly by keyboards, but well, in this metal realm what rules is the guitar, so go figure. "Live Your Life Like A Dream" has a kind of positive vibe, I mean one can read the title and imagine things, and the music helps creating that complicity. However, maybe the kindness (figurative sense) of this song would make you feel bored and even disappointed.

I like that a song like this was included in the album, the sound is different from the previous tracks, but I don't really think it loses that Pagan's Mind sound (at least not at all). With "The Master's Voice" the music returns to its original form, creating those powerful passages that gives the listener a sensation of triumph and power. The guitar riffs are pretty cool, the drums fast and vocals go always with the flow and help the music being more successful. Now another contrast comes with "When Angels Unite", a two-minute ballad that honestly is horrible, sorry.

The album ends with "Never Walk Alone". A nice track that may define Pagan's Mind style, the guitar riffs are nice, but here I miss more keyboard work. This is a good album. As you know, metal is not my preferred cup of tea, however I do enjoy it when it is well done. Pagan's Mind is a cool band that has a lot to offer, but I believe this album leaves us with some things to be desired. My final grade will be 3 stars.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#473460)
Posted Friday, July 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Oh, Pagan's Mind, how you broke my heart with this album. I expected so much from you, based on your previous works. But with this album you commited the cardinal sin for me and released an album full of repetitious songs devoid of the previous mastery of time signature changes I had heard from you in the past, lacking in interesting song structure, and featuring less of the overall technical wizardry I had come to expect of you. I don't know if the switch to blue-based album covers to a red-based album cover somehow subconsciously did this to you, or if you picked a red-based album cover because you subconsciously realized you had sold out to the masses, but I was so sad as I listened to this album. I am hoping this is merely a phase - we shall see. To the readers - if you want to listen to Pagan's Mind at their best, go listen to Enigmatic: Calling, Celestial Entrance, or God's Equation.
Report this review (#754796)
Posted Friday, May 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent.

On first listen, I found this album rather disappointing, as it has less to offer in the technicality/virtuosic field that Pagan's Mind has never before failed to impress us with. But after a while I found myself listening to this album repeatedly. And it took me a while to figure out why I was enjoying it so much.

What makes "Heavenly Ecstasy" what it is, is the powerful composition and emotion. While Pagan's Mind may have taken a more simplistic approach to their musicality on this album in terms of time signatures, speed, and harmonic features, their songs are way more emotional and the band have musically progressed more since "God's Equation" than they have between any of their other albums.

What will probably stand out to previous Pagan's Mind fans:

The new synth sounds - the synthesisers are more "futuristic" sounding and play a more melodic role on the album. These synths will sound very dated within a decade's time.

The simpler chord progressions - while I prefer the more complicated jazzy chord progressions, I feel that this works well within the album.

Slower, more ballady pieces - again, a large change to the Pagan's Mind sound.

A more sentimental approach to the composition - the pieces are more introspective and sentimental.

A more "epic" sounding mix - rather than speed, Pagan's Mind have made this album feel louder and more powerful. Though I love the fast pieces that made their previous sound, I think that this works to the album's advantage.

Cleaner production - the album has a nice clean production, but I can't help but feel like it gives the album a more commercial edge.

The album has quite many great tracks and so it is not easy to pick my favourite. But the key tracks for me are:

♪ Eyes of Fire - A great opener. I love the chord progression.

♪ Follow Your Way - This track is a very nicely composed piece of music, with a chorus that I find very moving.

♪ Live Your Life Like a Dream - Probably the cheesiest song on the album, but also a very beautiful and heartfelt one.

♪ Never Walk Alone - This track is by far my favourite on the album.

I personally think that this is an excellent addition to any progressive music library, but it is worth much more to me than a rating.

Report this review (#921372)
Posted Saturday, March 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars Pagan's Mind continues their streak of rock solid power/prog metal with Heavenly Ecstasy, an album that is very enjoyable despite being very average and predictable.

To me, the band's sound and style throughout Heavenly Ecstasy feels like they had a checklist in the control room while recording to ensure that they hit all of the marks needed for a power metal release.

High-flying vocals with plenty of hooks, sustains, and cosmic vocals? Check!

Songwriting and compositions 20% more interesting than normal metal? Check!

Killer instrumental work, with plenty of opportunities for showing off? Check!

Something to engage with the listener, communicate an interesting concept, or convey emotions beyond just being bad-ass nordic metal? Maybe next time...

Heavenly Ecstasy does so much right, and is genuinely a good listen, but doesn't grab hold of me the way that an exceptionally good prog-metal work does. Still, Pagan's Mind is much more diverse and exciting than a lot of their peers, so even a 3-star release from them is solid. Great for the occasional rock out session.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#1467787)
Posted Monday, September 21, 2015 | Review Permalink

PAGAN'S MIND Heavenly Ecstasy ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of PAGAN'S MIND Heavenly Ecstasy

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.