Pagans Mind | Full Circle: Live At Center Stage
Release Year: 2015
Country : Norway
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Nils K. Rue − Vocals
Jørn Viggo Lofstad − Guitar
Steinar Krokmo − Bass
Stian Kristoffersen − Drums
Ronny Tegner − Keyboard
Guest Musician Vocalist
Michael Eriksen –Walk Away & Eyes Of Fire– Circus Maximus
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I have been reviewing albums and writing my analysis on them since 1997. That is 18 years now. Up until now it has only been studio albums or projects of ‘original material’. I have never really analyzed live albums. I have refrained form this for two reasons. One being at one point the songs in a live album appeared on a studio album of ‘original material’ thus they were already scrutinized on the merits. Second reason being is I see live albums as a celebration of a bands progress and the fact the play live to celebrate achievement with the respective fan bases.
Pagan’s Mind Full Circle: Live At Center Stage is my very first exception to this rule. Ever since 2000 to 2001 since I first heard about Norway’s Pagan’s Mind, something about the band has refused to leave me alone. It would eventually take 2005’s Enigmatic Calling for me to wake up to the realization that this band not only kicks ass but they are up there with the Dream Theater’s , Vanden Plas’ Fates Warning’s, Crimson Glory’s and Symphony X’s, Evergrey’s and Circus Maximus as one of the standard carriers of progressive power metal. Pagan’s Mind are up there with all those bands and somebody has to now explain why they are there. I will attempt to do so here.
Pagan’s Mind Full Circle: Live At Center Stage is broken eloquently and appropriately in two different sets. The first and opening set is the entire 2002’s Celestial Entrance in its entirety live. The second set is various tracks that span their entire career thus far. This is all done at Prog/Power USA Metal Festival. For a band to do a live document like that at one of the major festivals that serve as a major medium for their respective genre is a statement unto itself. Especially since people from all over the world converge for Prog/Power USA every year. Pagan’s Mind Full Circle: Live At Center Stage is also their second official live document following in the footsteps of 2009’s Live Equation album they did in Oslo Norway.
Pagan’s Mind Full Circle: Live At Center Stage
Set #1 Celestial Entrance is just as explosive live as it is on album. Pagan’s Mind have a very uncanny ability to make their music sound just as polished live as on album. The connection to the crowd is immediate creating a intimate atmosphere for the evening. Several times Nil’s Rue – Vocals mentions the Prog/Power festival, maintaining a high quality connection. This is very transparent and comes through to the listener that was not even their during the live recording. The bands instrumental section is clean and on time with its various progressions and odd time signatures. There is some killer backing vocals that come in at the right time spot on. This is one of the few live progressive metal documents where I hear the band getting stronger in sound over time instead of diminishing in sound. The final track The Prophecy Of Plediades sounds just as tight and if not tighter than even the opening tracks of Approaching and Through Osiris’s Eyes. By now the band has that crowd right where they want them.
Set #2 Career Spanning 80 minutes is another powerful set in of itself. The band has also matured as New World Order carries a strong Black Sabbath doom metal vibe within the progressive power metal structure of the band’s signature sound. I like the power rhythmic progression at about the 5:00 mark of New World Order. They waste little time in the way of chit chatting to the crowd and really stay on point going from track to track. Intermission through Hallo Spaceboy is a non stop assault of various time signatures and well performed songs through power progressions. When we arrive at Full Circle which is a 15:57 instrumental only track. Full Circle allows the fan and listener both new and old to see the instrumental side to Pagan’s Mind. Full Circle is also a much needed break on the vocals. The band has one serious stronger finishes on a live document I ever heard.
Over the past 20 years we have had live albums such as Dream Theater’s Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory, Symphony X’s Live On The Edge Of Forever, Vanden Plas’ Spirit Of Live, Pain Of Salvation’s BE and Kamelots One Cold Winter’s Night, and now Pagan’s Mind Full Circle: Live From Center Stage ranks right up there among the elite of live progressive power metal album documents. Whether you are a fan from day one or a newer fan you can see the maturing and growth of a quality metal band. I see Pagan’s Mind Full Circle: Live From Center Stage as one of those albums many will look back another 20 years from now and still be talking about it as if it were just freshly released today. This will last the test of time like the rest of the Pagan’s Mind library has. This gets a 5/5.