Pagan’s Mind. The first thing that probably comes to mind when you first hear the name is “what kind of a name for a band is that is that?”. After that you probably guess that they play some form of power metal. Well, you are right there, in which case the cheesy name is all right. But your average power metal band they are not. I will also warn you that this will be a fairly lengthy review, at least for me. Chalk it up to my love for the band.
Celestial Entrance is the second album by the Norwegians and the one that really put them on the map in the prog metal world. On this album, they perfect their mix of power and prog metal with small traces here and there of the black metal more common to their homeland. Their sound is very original and nothing short of listening to it will do it justice. They have many of the characteristics of power metal (power chords, frequent double bass, catchy choruses, etc) with the technical skill of prog metal. I can honestly say that no other band I have come across combines the two genres like they do. I won’t go into the details of each and every song because they are all of nearly the same high quality. I will, however, give some details on the first two which you can carry on to the rest. “Approaching” is the intro to the album and to the song “Through Osiris’ Eyes”. It does its job perfectly. It builds up tension and then storms into a wonderful but short instrumental that utilizes themes from the upcoming track. “Through Osiris’ Eyes” is what you might call the stereotypical Pagan’s Mind song. I don’t mean this in a demeaning way, just that you could use this song to represent what the band is all about. It has a verse and chorus that is very melodic but still skillfully played. Its rather simple structure (for a prog band) belies an underlying complexity. The keyboards take an atmospheric role, except for the solo at the beginning. It also has a staple of Pagan’s Mind songs: an incredible guitar solo. I cannot give a higher praise to the guitarist, Jorn Viggo Lofstad. His solos, each and every one, are works of art. They are both melodic and technical at the same time. They sound like they were labored over for weeks. The bassist, Stian Kristofferson, is also perfect (getting tired of hearing this yet?). He is there supporting the rhythm and drums, but he also manages to be melodic and technical when needed. The drums are also worth noting. They make use of the combined styles of black metal, prog metal, and power metal. For example, you can hear a lot of Mike Portnoy in the more progressive moments, your typical double bass speed in the power metal moments, and people like Hellhammer and Nic Barker in the black metal moments. This provides for a varied experience and an overall more enjoyable listen. Finally, a very high mention must go to Nils K. Rue, the singer. Right off the bat I will state that his voice is very different and original. He is rather high pitched, but not your typical Geoff Tate or James LaBrie impersonator, like we often hear in the prog world. One of my favorite things about his style is the way he can let rip with some amazing high-pitched screams. You just don’t hear people sing the way he can very often. I will also say that he can repeat this live, as I have seen him perform “Through Osiris’ Eyes” on the ProgPower dvd. He also makes great use of vocal effects to create a perfect atmosphere for the lyrics. Speaking of which, they are about as cheesy as the band name. Nils is into aliens, the origin of man, and Stargate (a sci-fi show that you either love, hate, or mock). Now, I’m actually a huge fan of the show Stargate (I know, now I’m a real geek), but I would never write any lyrics about it(and certainly not put a huge one on the cover of my album). Really, they’re no worse than anything by Rhapsody or Stratovarius, so if you can withstand a little cheese with some really good music then this band just might make it to the top of your favorites list. In fact, they are so good that they landed just below my favorite two bands, Opeth and Dream Theater. I give them a 9/10 and my highest recommendation.
- Approaching (2:48)
- Through Osiris' Eyes (6:08)
- Entrance Stargate (6:01)
- ...Of Epic Questions (6:10)
- Dimension Of Fire (7:28)
- Dreamscape Lucidity (6:39)
- The Seven Sacred Promises (6:28)
- Back To The Magic Of Childhood - Conception, Pt. 1 (2:46)
- Back To The Magic Of Childhood - Exploring Life, Pt. 2 (9:17)
- In Brilliant White Light (2:44)
- Aegean Shores (5:14)
- The Prophecy Of Pleiades (9:53)
Toxik, formed in 1985, was an amazing band thrash-power-metal-progressive if you will band, that had an incredible style. Their debut album called “World Circus”, had an incredible mixture of chords, guitar solos, bass and incredible vocals very much in the style of Rob Halford, that resulted in a unique combination, not likely to be heard in that decade. That album incorporated ultra fast riffs, very rhythmic chord and ultra fast melodic solos. Josh Christian guitar style was simply amazing, a true shredder. I think Toxik was a band ahead of its time; you could count with your fingers metal bands that sounded like that in an 80´s decade dominated by glamm metal (Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Poison, etc).
Today you can still hear that album and it sounds fresh. A friend of mine played that album for me one time when we were drinking some beers and when I heard the first song “Heart Attack”, I was blown away, I could not believe what I was hearing, but then the title track “World Circus”, played and I simply started prying to these new gods, but I was more impressed when I heard that they were an 80´s band. If I am not mistaken, Toxik was one of the first prog power metal bands out there, and you can hear their influence in bands like Pantera “Cowboys From Hell” album.
Unfortunately, this band disbanded in 1992!!, they disappeared from the face of the earth, I been wandering where are they now?, Where are those great musicians?, are they working on other side projects? Why aren’t their records on any store now?
Today “World Circus” and their second album called “Think This”, are almost collector items, you can’t find them I any record store, in fact, I haven’t heard their second album, not even one song!. According to some reviews I read from the internet, “Think This” sounds even better than “World Circus”.
There are some rumors that Toxik may reunite again and release a new album! That would be great!!!
So if you have any information about Toxik that would like to share, about the whereabouts of their members, and even could tell us were to find some songs from “Think this” album!!, please fell free to send an e-mail to:
Keep the metal scene alive!!!
Excellent Album, excellent band from Italy, progressive metal with fusion touches, Simone is a drum master, incredible technique and swiftness, he uses all the percussions and accessories in his drums, one of the bests drummers in the world, the sound of the album is clear and captivating, eight songs of the best progressive metal, awesome the way they incorporated Latin rhythms in their music, the changes in the rhythm are constant and fast, great vocals, magnificent lyrics, the feeling is perceptible in all the album, the keys are so fast, great orchestration, the guitar is powerful, I’ll expect to be able to see this guys playing live.
Song by song
In The Hands Of A Siren, the quality of the musicians is notorious, starts with the guitar followed by the drums, the rhythm is amazing, next, the keys and the vocals, pure feeling, Raffaele doing his job very well, the lyrics are really good, the part when Matteo sings “more than gold your beauty is flashing my eyes” is pretty amazing, I like so much the fact that they including a woman sing, some bands has do that before and they sounds amazing (Queensryche, Mayadome, Ivanhoe, Shadow Gallery, Soul Cages), that’s music! I don’t understand how the people don’t like this music; do they have a brain damage?
Between Two Parallels, incredible song! One of the best ever, Simone is so good that it seems he’s mistaken when he plays, he took his time, no hurries, the changes are perfect, nothing less, nothing more, the keyboards with a piano sound follow the drums, excellent job, spectacular coordination, then appears an almost imperceptible vocals, at the half of the song they play a musical part, the rhythm of the guitar is hypnotic, original, the sounds effects are good, they go in agreement with the music, the keyboards pretty amazing, then appears the guitar solo, next, another perfect musical part leaded by the drums, the voice under the chorus is an excellent job, their creativity and innovation put they between the bests bands.
Remembrances, one of my favourites, great distortion by Marco, followed by the drums and keys, the bass accompanied, the feeling is everywhere, I like so much this lyrics, tragically, dramatic, the way that Matteo sings is perfect, the drums feels like heartbeats, what Raffaele do in this song is fantastic, they play with the heart, who’s has not been rejected?, who’s has not feeling like this before?, pure pain and sorrow, excellent name of the song, make us remember how many times we felt in that way , for a moment they forgot the song’s theme and make something special, something unimaginable, they add some different rhythm, fastness, they show versatility, the way of ending the vocals get you enchanted, fascinated, I hope all the bands admire this job and try to doing something like that, this is better than hear long and fast scales in guitar, keys and bass, no sense vocals and repetitive drums, we heard this for more of 20 years, is time to change.
Density, Instrumental, an intro, excellent music, the way that Giovanni plays is wonderful, shows his talent, the capacity of doing something different with great rhythm, very creative.
Going To Nowhere, great start, awesome keys with a fantastic rhythm on the drums, great distortion by Marco, intense vocals, like in the entire album, wonderful guitar solo, spectacular the last part, it seems like they compete who’s the fastest.
One Thousand Nothing, Latinrhythms incorporated in this song, makes something never made, precision and synchronicity in all the instruments, the voice is charming and full of feeling, the drums are very impressive, the changes so fast, the sound and the feeling in the guitar are really good, the piano is angelic, extraordinary keyboards, excellent technique and ability, the bass very perceptible.
Connecting, Pure feeling! This is one of the attributes of the band, in this song they shape, a prelude for the big show.
The Big Show, starts with great keys orchestration and piano, followed by changing rhythm in drums, cymbals and percussions, then, the powerful guitar and the loud bass, next, strong and emotive voice by Matteo, I don’t understand how people who makes the reviews in prog sites said that this is prog rock, can’t you hear the heaviness of the band? Inconceivable feeling in the last part, starts with the guitar solo accompanied by incredible drums and deep bass, next the harmonious of the guitar, extremely well, followed by the keys orchestration; by finalize the chorus of connecting. The song ends as if the drummer got mad each time, great song and the perfect way to finalizing the album.
This is the best ever album in progressive metal scene, perfect music, since you start to listen the cd you know is the best, I want to tell to the people who’s not involved with prog metal, and they want to learn, that this is the music you must listen first, they going to convince you that the prog metal is the best.
This long play features an excellent guitar, awesome drums, impressive keyboards, great bass, charming voice, great musicians, incredible technical, captivate feeling, the perfect mixture, is like a progressive dream team, all they are excessive goods. The album contains nine songs of pure progressive metal, 65:12 minutes of perfection, these men are really geniuses, there are bands where is only one brain, in this band all the members make the music. Johan Reinholdz play the guitar and the bass in this masterpiece, excellent job, Martin Hedin produced, engineered, mixed and recorded the album, also he composed and written some songs, he’s so brilliant. The quality of the record is good. I’ll hope see them playing alive, they are the best!
Song by song
The two is one album begins with Encyclopedia, a powerful piece, the drums are great, Thomas makes something incredible along the album, and particularity in this song, the ability of Johan to play the guitar and the bass is fantastic, he plays a heavy distortion and also plays with severe feeling and skill, the bass creates a magnificently sound, can you imagine play one instrument at this level? Now, can you imagine play two instruments? Only a few get the gift to do that, congratulations to Johan, he’s a music genius, the voice of David is very strong, very clear and full of sentiment, this song contains a keyboard solo, almost all the bands play a guitar solo in their songs, these guys do something different, they are really experts in the matter.
Mirages, start with a loud distortion by Johan, strong vocals with awesome feeling, the melody of the guitar is marvellous, the drums are really fast, great changes in the rhythm, you can hear all the drums, percussions and cymbals, Thomas is one of the few how play all the parts in their drums, great orchestration by Martin, this music piece contains a key solo accompanied by the guitar, followed by a guitar solo accompanied by the drums and the bass, excellent music, very smart and intelligent.
Reaching Deep Within, starts with a rapid scale of the guitar, followed by the bass and drums, again, powerful distortion in the guitar, awesome voice, the orchestration of Martin appears along the song, the velocity of Thomas makes hard to decipher what he plays, the changes in the rhythm are constants and quick, incredible musical part when David stops sing, start with the guitar followed by the drums and bass, then, the bass and the scale of the guitar of the beginning of the song, and then keyboards, amazing! They finished the song with a rhythm that is getting faster and faster.
Two Is One, my favourite, start slow, but with great technique, is like if they turn slow down what they play, you can appreciate with more clarity all the changes in all the drums, cymbals and percussions. Good lyrics, the vocals are touching. In this song you can note how they go faster in each part. The feeling in keys, bass and guitar are extremely notorious, they play with the heart, there are only a few bands who play in that way (fates warning, enchant, crises, dynamic lights, tomorrow’s eve, for mentioning the best), for me, that’s perfection, you can hear great solos and scales of Petrucci and Romeo, they are virtuosos, awesome technique, but they not play with the heart, there’s no feeling, how many guitarists exists that they try to be faster than the others? There always be one faster than other, it’s time to be more creative than the others and it’s time to do something different.
Morphing Into Nothing, the instrumental song, starts and ends with the same musical part, this part includes the same notes in the guitar, bass, keys and drums, they show us their capacity and ability, how can fast they could play, and how they could make great music, and when you think is over the best is start to come, Johan, Martin and Thomas play Exceptionally, I’ll like to see how many bands could play in this way, I think only two or three.
Castaway, in this song Martin shows their talent, plays classical piano, is as if he had two brains, David sings with a special feeling, he’s a top singer, the song begins with the guitar, followed by the vocals, then piano, Johan makes almost imperceptible sounds along the song, no drums and neither bass, at the half of the song one piano recital, what more can I tell.
Parasite, starts with keyboards, followed by guitar, drums and the bass, then a piano part followed by David’s voice, the chorus not the best, but great vocals, the rhythm is very progressive, musical part instead of a guitar solo, then, the feeling begins, great keys with delicate vocals, followed by enchanting bass, drums and guitars, the keys don’t stops playing until the end, next, David shows their great voice, this is accompanied by great guitar and incredible drums, Thomas plays with delicacy, is amazing the sound of the cymbals and drums, the changes in rhythm, that’s why he’s the best, emotive end.
One In My Head, awesome song, especially in the final part, there’s nothing more progressive! what are they doing? They repeat the same part and turn slow down the rhythm at the same time, perfect synchronicity! Martin and Thomas creates something unique, no one ever do something alike, one more time they show us their capability, talent, creativity, imagination, only the greats do things greats, I hope they continuing creating and innovating new ways of progressive metal in future albums.
This Fragile Surface, stars with the keyboards and drums, next guitar and bass, then, strong voice by David, the drums and the guitar are more heavier than the others songs, this is the best metal! Powerful and elegant, Johan plays great scales, musical part at the half of the song, great changes in drums with loud guitar harmonious followed by the bass, lacking 1:20 minutes appear the guitar solo, great close of the album.
PROGRESSIVE METAL "THE CONDUIT" BY Jeff Bobbin
The Conduit is a project designed for listeners who desire detail, proficiency, and captivation. Technicality is an essential aspect of conveying multidimensional concepts and emotional assimilation. Each song is comprised of sacred geometrical sequence, Fibonacci rhythmic motives, and meticulously head bang-able time signatures. The Conduit is evolving to accommodate its listeners by sharing love, intellectual stimulation and refined musical ideology.