For many headbangers, black metal is the first thing that comes to mind when Norway is mentioned. That is understandable; many of the top black metal bands have come from Norway. But not all Norwegian metal bands play black metal or even blackened death metal; a case in point is Pagan's Mind, who have been favoring a melodic progressive metal/power metal recipe since their formation back in 2000. Some longtime followers feel that Pagan's Mind have toned down the prog elements in their music, but there is still plenty of prog action on their fifth album, Heavenly Ecstasy. And there is still plenty of ‘80s worship coming from these Scandinavians, whose influences continue to include Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, Fates Warning, and Judas Priest. The '80s were a time in which metal bands went for a lot of bigness: big melodies, big hooks, big production, big riffs. That fact obviously isn't lost on Pagan's Mind, who bring plenty of '80s-like bigness to "Walk Away in Silence," "Eyes of Fire," and other songs on Heavenly Ecstasy. Pagan's Mind have grown a bit heavier over time, but they have also become hookier -- and there are plenty of hooks and melodies on this 2011 release that are an unapologetic throwback to the grandiose, larger than life approach that so many metal bands favored back in the '80s. A few of the riffs on Heavenly Ecstasy have a bit of alternative metal chug, but all things considered, this is a very '80s-obsessed album. And the fact that Pagan's Mind have become somewhat heavier doesn't mean that they have sacrificed anything melodically; people who like their metal on the nuanced side will be glad to know that there is nuance galore on this 55-minute CD. Pagan's Mind clearly think of intricacy and songcraft as high priorities, and that outlook serves the Norwegian prog/power metallers well throughout Heavenly Ecstasy.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson