PAGAN'S MIND - CELESTIAL ENTRANCE - LIMB
This heathen's brain is clearly schizophrenic. Hailing from Norway, with Celestial Entrance being the band's second album, Pagan's Mind is both a progressive metal and a heavy metal band. The lengthy album and its twelve songs are clearly working their way towards shores already populated by the likes of Symphony X and Dream Theater musically and Queensryche vocally, but time and time again the band incorporates straight heavy metal passages into the songs. That is a good thing for it makes Pagan's Mind a heavier-than-average band for its sub-genre. Having said that, the six-piece are neither progressive enough nor heavy enough to make an impact either way and ultimately will fail to make the necessary connection with the respective genres' fans. Be that as it may, the album is competently-played and produced to good effect by Fredrik Nordstrom over at Fredman Studios and consequently worthy of consideration. - Ali "The Metallian"
PAGAN'S MIND - GOD'S EQUATION - LMP
Norway's Pagan's Mind has endeared itself to progressive fans for several reasons. Aside from the odd Norwegian origin of the band, which has not typically been a hotbed for this type of music, the singer and musicians have a good grip on their instruments and issue dependable and solid songs. Left unsaid, of course, is the band's integration of poppy and commercial elements with its expected harder and swift riffing. On the song United Alliance Nils K. Rue sings with a clear poppy tone whether his fans would like to admit it or not. The band even covers David Bowie's Hallo Spaceboy. You'd be amazed how Rue changes tones to sound like Bowie. He obviously is a fan. The group presumably wins its progressive credentials by inducting keyboards and ten-minute songs into the arrangement. Osiris' Triumphant Return is almost nine-minutes long. Comparisons to Dream Theater are still easily made, but Alien Kamikaze also has an industrial edge. Although God's Equation, with all its religious overtones, is pretty much all-systems go for the Norwegians the band makes no special claims one way or the other. - Anna Tergel
On the heels of the release of Pagan’s Mind newest album God’s Equation editor Ali “The Metallian” had the occasion to visit with the band’s singer, Nils K. Rue, in order to find out what the concept behind the album is and get the latest news on the Norwegian act. Nils proved to be a congenial and thoughtful interlocutor and spoke at some length about the band’s music, hopes for making it, philosophy, religion and, what else, David Bowie! – 15.12.2007
METALLIAN: Nils, Thanks for taking the time to sit down and chat. Generally speaking, do you find a difference in the manner or substance of interviews you give to Canadian versus European interviewers?
NILS K. RUE: This interview is great, Ali. I know we will talk about different things. The interviews are overall about the same things, but I think that North Americans in Canada have a slightly different approach. My experience is that the interviewers in Canada are slightly more polite actually. I don’t know what it is, but we have somewhat of a fan-base in Canada because of our sound. We don’t have a very European sound. I really enjoy doing interviews with North Americans.
METALLIAN: Conventional wisdom would have it that Europeans would be more polite.
NILS K. RUE: I really don’t know why that is not actually true. I see the reception we get in USA and Canada as better than the European one. It is good in Europe, and very good in our home country of Norway, but there is something, some connection between Pagan’s Mind and North America. We are so cheered over there. It is great.
METALLIAN: It might not come as a surprise to you if you are asked regarding your spiritual beliefs given your band’s and albums' titles and artwork.
NILS K. RUE: This is a very interesting question. I am glad you asked it. People are interested in the question, but no one has asked me as concretely as you did. When we started the band in the year 2000 it was a spiritual awakening for me. I was into spiritual matters and finding myself. I was in-between thoughts and religions and I used the music as a platform for my beliefs. I project all my thoughts into the music and the lyrics. That was my way of putting it out and telling people about it.
Some people have a strong urge for something more in this life, while others are satisfied with their lives – ordinary stuff. Some people, like me, wonder how everything is. I go around thinking all the time. I wonder why the world is as is. I am a philosophizing guy. The concept of Pagan’s Mind has been an outlet for me, my platform.
I am not a Christian. I am not a Muslim. I believe there is a higher being or intelligence that binds everything together. This intelligence has been here long before any religion. I strongly believe that mankind invented all the religions.
METALLIAN: Would it be appropriate to call you a ‘pagan’ then?
NILS K. RUE: That would not be wrong to say actually. I believe more in the mother earth or ‘goddess’ thing. I believe in the universe’s energy that is in every one of us. That is ‘god’ really. I don’t believe in a supreme being that judges everyone and everything and has a long gray beard. I don’t believe in those standard ideas.
METALLIAN: Would you consider yourself a follower of Wicca?
NILS K. RUE: No, I would not say that. I am against all sorts of organizations in religion. I would never indulge myself to join others. I am myself. I don’t need other people to tell me how to pray or how to believe or anything. I have my personal beliefs which I very much like to have for myself. I am not trying to push them on anyone else. I project the thoughts through the band, but I don’t want to convince anyone of my beliefs.
METALLIAN: Is that a ‘star gate’ on your albums’ covers?
NILS K. RUE: Of course, it is taken from the Stargate film. Have you seen the film? The whole idea of being able to travel between galaxies using that kind of a portal is really inspiring. It is typical that sceptics are interviewed on television about life on other planets and they say ‘there could be life, but they could never travel here because it would use too much gas.’ It sounds stupid because they are talking about travelling the way we do on earth.
Several scientists are now talking seriously about the existence of different dimensions which would explain a lot of stuff we see on earth that is unexplained. I see the star gate as a symbol of much of what I talk about.
METALLIAN: What is the connection between what you just said and the religious symbols on the new album cover?
NILS K. RUE: The thing is the cover is supposed to be provocative. I am trying to illustrate that all religions come from the same source. The goddess is holding the Christian cross, the Egyptian Ankh, the Ying Yang from the Eastern religions and the Jewish Star Of David. They all have the same source, which is man-made. The mother goddess of the earth is on the cover. I am trying to provoke everyone with God’s Equation because the accepted form of God is manly. The she-goddess on the cover also represents a gender frustration. It is deliberately confusing for people who look at it.
METALLIAN: What is God’s Equation more specifically?
NILS K. RUE: Albert Einstein came up with the term ‘God’s Equation’ originally. He was speaking about a theory of his called The Expanding Universe back in 1918, I think. He had this mathematical formula that explained how and why the universe is expanding at all times. He later on ditched this theory thinking he was wrong. Then in the late ‘90s scientists found out that he was right after all. The term ‘God’s Equation’ became popular in alternative thinking circles. DNA codes are links among all organic materials on this planet. There is a mathematical link through DNA.
METALLIAN: that is the Unified Field Theory.
NILS K. RUE: That is right, yes, really.
METALLIAN: Does the quotation in the song belong to Einstein as well?
NILS K. RUE: It is a mix of his and what I was just talking about.
METALLIAN: The words of Einstein have been picked up by both religious and irreligious people to support their beliefs.
NILS K. RUE: That is true. Einstein was not talking about God however. He was talking about how everything is set up really.
METALLIAN: Elsewhere, and to talk about a couple of songs, you have included a cover version of David Bowie’s Hallo Spaceboy. Covers are mundane and senseless, but I wanted to address your voice which transforms to sound like Bowie on the track.
NILS K. RUE: I think it was more subconscious really. I was trying to sound like me, but people tell me I am a chameleon vocally. I can adapt my vocals to different styles and sound like anybody. I think I was probably so concentrated on doing a David Bowie cover that I ended up sounding like him. I agree that on the verse I sound like Bowie. That is cool!
METALLIAN: You are also connected somehow to David Bowie, aren’t you?
NILS K. RUE: That is right. I am in X-World/5 with Reeves Gabrels who played with David Bowie in Tin Machine for ten years. I talk to Reeves regularly.
METALLIAN: You are also in two other bands. How active are you in those?
NILS K. RUE: I don’t think you can say I am active. The main project I am involved with is Eidolon – a Canadian band – but the Drover brothers are in Megadeth now. I did one record with them and am officially their vocalist, but there is nothing happening in that camp because of Megadeth. That is perfect for me because I put all my energy into Pagan’s Mind. Eidolon was a fun thing to do. I wanted to put my voice out there a little more. I am also in the Italian band Shadows Spell which has been sleeping for five or six years. I don’t think very much is happening there either. The most active project is X-World/5 with Reeves Gabrels and Andy La Rocque. The album will be out through AFM Records on February 29th. We will see how that record does. It is very different from Pagan’s Mind. It has a cyber sound that is slow and catchy and sounds like Ministry and Marilyn Manson. It is very simple music really. It is something to do and lets me loosen up. It is a fun thing to do. As I was mentioning earlier people call me a chameleon. I am fond of the theatrical approach of doing different things. I am an all-time King Diamond fan. He does four different voices and has a theatrical aspect.
METALLIAN: Since we were making connections earlier one notes that you have a link to Rammstein and the song Alien is not too dissimilar to that band’s music.
NILS K. RUE: Stefan Glaumann mixed and kind of a produced the new album. He also worked on the last four Rammstein albums. He has done several million-selling records. We went to him for the mix because I was impressed by the Rammstein energy. We thought he would be good for us and he was!
METALLIAN: Was the song Alien written before or after his working with you?
NILS K. RUE: All songs were recorded before we went to him. He was just mixing, but he did have a lot of things to say about it. You produce the album when you record it, but you also produce the album when you mix it. He helped us shape the album.
METALLIAN: You are one of the bigger bands in your genre. Do you make a living off your music?
NILS K. RUE: I do not make a living from Pagan’s Mind. I have my day job. I work as a graphics designer in advertising. All band members have day jobs. We are working really hard right now on taking the band to the next level so we can live off it. I really have a strong belief that with this release we can make it there.
We are now constantly occupied with band stuff. That is different from our previous releases. We are granting interviews all the time, we are doing gigs all the time and constantly being approached by booking agents. We are getting radio play and are on the charts in Norway and Sweden. Things are rolling.
With all the downloading nowadays it is tough for both the labels and the bands really. I could maybe name two metal bands from Norway that are living off their music, namely Satyricon and Dimmu Borgir. Apart from that, it is a hard life for musicians out there. We need to tour more. When you get out there that is when the record sales start rolling seriously. Touring is necessary for making it. That is happening for us now. I have a firm belief that this band will make it. Things will be brighter in 2008, I believe.
METALLIAN: Is there any news that you wish to impart before we end our conversation, Nils?
NILS K. RUE: We are touring with Brainstorm of Germany in March for three weeks across Europe. We just completed a tour with Fates Warning in Europe. We are also nominated for the music awards here in Norway. Spellemannprisen is the name of the award.
Nile, guitarist Jørn Viggo Lofstad, bassist Steinar Krokmo, drummer Stian Lindaas Kristoffersen and keyboard man Ronny Tegner have a website at http://www.pagansmind.com. The band’s new album is released by LMP.