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Review: Pagan Altar - Lords of Hypocrisy
Pagan Altar
Lords of Hypocrisy

Label: The Miskatonic Foundation
Year released: 2004
Duration: 51:07
Tracks: 9
Genre: Heavy Metal


Review online: August 30, 2006
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.54/5 (90.71%) (56 Votes)

Wow. Pagan Altar are one of those bands from the NWOBHM days of the late 70's/early 80's who just never hit. They produced a critically lauded debut album Volume 1 in 1982, and then nothing but a demo for the next 22 years. Finally they recorded and released this masterpiece, dropping jaws all over the world. How could a band this great have slipped through the cracks?

Pagan Altar play their metal so old-fashioned I can hardly believe it. Think classic Sabbath mixed in with some Manilla Road and even a bit of Jethro Tull. Alan Jones and his guitar are clearly the centerpiece of the band, as he just keeps spinning out fistfuls of groovy, hooky, classic metal riffs. I've never heard a player sound so completely retro and so fresh and innovative at the same time. And his leads! Awesome, soulful, searing leadwork that will get your air-guitar hand working. I swear Iommi never played anything half as good, not ever. The guitarwork is just stellar, and even if that was all there was it would make this album worth having. But Pagan Altar just keep writing great song after great song.

The vocals of Terry Jones may be a sticking point for some, as his voice essentially redefines the term 'reedy'. Like a cross between Mark Shelton and Ian Anderson he warbles through the album. Technically he's not good, with limited range and little depth – and yet he's perfect for this music, and nobody else would sound right singing on this album. His voice adds just the right touch, and he renders the album even more retro and idiosyncratic than it would be without him. He sounds like he's from the 70's, and I can't put it any other way.

But then there is nothing modern about this band, and I do not care, because they rule so very much. This won't be an easy CD to track down, but believe me, it is worth it. If you like classic NWOBHM acts like Witchfinder General, or recent retro bands like Witchcraft, then you NEED this album. Let's just hope we get another disc out of them, and that it's not 22 years before we do. Highly Recommended.

More about Pagan Altar...
Review: Mythical & Magical (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Mythical & Magical (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Room of Shadows (reviewed by MetalMike)
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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