The idea for Pagan Evolution came about in June of 2005. Musician, songwriter, and composer Derek Cvengros wanted to create his own sound without blending in with the numerous mainstream bands heard on the radio everyday. Being a born metal head, Derek wanted to incorporate his metal influences but also add something to it that he could call his own. Being influenced by bands like Nightwish, Therion, and Metallica, Derek’s idea was to take a metal sound and add orchestral strings with a female vocalist to top it off. To Derek this just wasn’t enough, it was lacking originality. After playing his first twelve-string guitar in the summer of 2005, Derek decided to incorporate it into his project as well. Not even a week later, Derek purchased his first twelve-string and started writing music immediately.

By early 2006 Derek had written the majority of the guitar riffs and arrangements for Pagan Evolution. Now came the daunting and exhausting task of writing the orchestral string parts. At that time, all Derek had in his hands was an old Yamaha tone generator with very lacking string sounds. But that was all he had to work off of, so he diligently began composing the parts for the strings.

During this time he met Alexandria Clark, by chance, through a friend at a coffee house. When Derek learned Alex was attending University of Michigan as an opera major and an avid fan of heavy metal, he quickly befriended her. Derek and Alex stayed in touch and after a few months, Alex joined the project filling the lead vocals position in June of 2006.

While recording Alex’s scratch tracks for Pagan Evolution, they ran into a road block. They were having a hard time finding a way to blend the metal guitars and drums with the operatic vocals. While Derek was trying to figure out how Nightwish was so successful at blending the two, Alex made a point that Nightwish used real strings. Derek immediately started researching ways to use real strings on the album. He came across Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO). GPO was a very realistic sounding yet cost effective solution for Pagan Evolution.

Now that Derek had a full string orchestra available to him, he began researching and studying classical music, orchestration, and theory to help him improve his composition and finish Pagan Evolution. During this time he had heard from a friend about that great piece of software that enabled you to actually have a choir sing words. Derek looked deeply into this software, thinking that it must have been to be good too be true. But, to his surprise, the software was astonishing. He quickly, purchased it and added the choirs into key pieces in Pagan Evolution.

This would have been the last piece of the puzzle that Derek would add to Pagan Evolution. He finished composing, recording, and producing the album in October of 2007, nearly two and a half years after Derek’s original conception. The album was put into production and on November 30th, 2007, Pagan Evolution was finally released.

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