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Pagan Altar – The Room of Shadows

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album by:
Pagan Altar
Version:
Cd

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On October 5, 2017
Last modified:October 5, 2017

Summary:

A mighty swansong for a band that have been overlooked for too long.

Approaching what will be the last new music we will possibly ever hear from Pagan Altar with the enigmatic Terry Jones on vocals is not a task to be taken lightly. Formed in 1978 and virtually forgotten about until 1998 when their debut album (recorded in 1982) was finally given an “official” release.

The band reformed in 2004 to record the “Lords of Hypocrisy” LP, this attracted new fans and thankfully got the band up and running again and producing music semi- regularly. Fast forward 10 years and Terry Jones sadly passed away. Now what we have is his final recordings carried forward by his son Alan.

There has almost been a fever pitched battle in the last 10 years of digging up old NWOBHM band’s material and releasing it as cult classics, alas a lot of it deserves to stay forgotten. Pagan Altar are one of the rare exceptions to the rule. The uniqueness of Jones’ voice which is reminiscent of Roger Chapman of prog maniacs “Family” and the doom laden NWOBHM riffs of Pagan Altar  make the band stand head and shoulders above the pack.

Opener “Rising of the Dead” kicks the album of in epic doom styling complete with big accentuated chords and the mournful voice telling the tale. “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” dips into the novel by Oscar Wilde, telling the tale of man unable to cope with aging and maturation. This is an upbeat song with a familiar harmony guitar line and hook which I cannot quite place but feels very current compared to the rest of the album. The guitar solos are outstanding, tasteful and well placed and not shredding at high speed for the sake of vanity. The centre piece of this album is “The Ripper” a grandiose 10 minute track with a strolling chorus before dipping into heavier riffs with guitar solos that make sense melodically and compliment the riffs. The album finishes with the acoustic “After forever”, a fitting end to the swansong, it is a shame that this era of the band is probably over. All the influences are here, most notably early Sabbath and Priest, listen carefully to the riffs under those solos and hear how intricately the both are woven together. The production is big,brash and modern but does not detract from the vintage heavy metal that Pagan Altar are renowned for.

The album cover is the final touch of class about this album. It is not often nowadays a chance arises to swoon over an album sleeve, the time and care that has obviously been taken with the sleeve harks back to the days of when the greats artists like Rodney Matthews ruled the heavy metal album sleeve.

Tracklisting

1              Rising of the Dead
2              The Portrait of Dorian Gray
3              Danse Macabre
4              Dance of the Vampires
5              The Room of Shadows
6              The Ripper
7              After Forever

Band Members

Terry Jones – Vocals
Alan Jones – Guitars
Diccon Harper – Bass
Andy Green – Drums

Pagan Altar Official

A mighty swansong for a band that have been overlooked for too long.
Dave McCallum
Old enough to know better. I have been a metalhead for going on 30 years. I am a geek collector of records, cds, magazines memorabilia. In the past i have written for various sites and a printed magazine. I also play in bands - War Iron, Devilmakesthree, Terminus and Fuckhammer.
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