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Review: Pagan Altar - The Room of Shadows
Pagan Altar
The Room of Shadows

Label: Temple of Mystery Records
Year released: 2017
Duration: 46:59
Tracks: 7
Genre: Heavy Metal


Review online: August 12, 2017
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.29/5 (85.71%) (21 Votes)

If you knew of Pagan Altar prior to their recorded material seeing the light of day starting in 1998, you were a true NWOBHM fan. With only a demo to their credit but a legendary live show living in the memories of those lucky enough to see them, this British band was the epitome of "underground." As with many bands from that famous movement, once the tides changed back to be more favorable to the metal music of the 80s, Pagan Altar reformed and released several albums to enthusiastic fan response. A band ahead of their time, indeed.

With the death of singer Terry Jones in 2015, Pagan Altar have now reached the end of the road but they left us with one last album, The Room of Shadows, out on Temple of Mystery Records. Like everything in Pagan Altar's history, The Room of Shadows did not reach fans easily. It was originally recorded several years ago but now the wait is over. As a swansong, fans could hardly ask for anything better.

Pagan Altar were always a little different, incorporating a lot of 70s-era occult-rock and folk-rock elements into their esthetic and The Room of Shadows is no different. Jones distinctive nasal delivery is on full display and he sounds fantastic as he weaves the strange and eerie stories of tracks like "Danse Macabre" and "The Room of Shadows." I'm not much of a lyrics guy but I can't help but get drawn into Pagan Altar's evocative take on the Jack the Ripper story ("The Ripper") and vampirism ("Dance of the Vampires"). Guitarist Alan Jones (Terry's son) easily transitions from rocking NWOBHM riffing and lead work to dreamy passages where his guitar is relatively free of effects. With the solid rhythm work from bassist Diccon Harper and drummer Andy Green, that atmosphere on The Room of Shadows equals past releases like Mythical & Magical even if the songwriting isn't quite at the same level.

Pagan Altar is a band that is savored by fans and though the final chapter of their story is written, The Room of Shadows is a more than fitting epitaph. Rejoice in the music they've left behind.

More about Pagan Altar...
Review: Lords of Hypocrisy (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Mythical & Magical (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Mythical & Magical (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Time Lord (reviewed by MetalMike)
Interview with Terry Jones (vocals) and Alan Jones (guitar) on February 26, 2006 (Interviewed by Cluedo)
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