Pagan Altar – The Room of Shadows (Temple of Mystery)

Monday, 28th August 2017
Rating: 7/10

The roller-coaster musical career of British metal vets Pagan Altar comes to an end with The Room of Shadows. Part of the early NWOBHM scene (that’s “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” in case anyone has forgotten), the band’s initial run produced a solitary, but well-received 1982 demo. The band would split in 1985, but reformed in 2004 and enjoyed a quick run of releases that kept them in the good graces of the old-time metal scene. Their final opus The Room of Shadows was originally penned 13 years ago, but saw a series of updates until the passing of vocalist Terry Jones, who succumbed to cancer in 2015. The album is a fitting tribute to his memory and the band’s late-bloomer of a career.

Pagan Altar could never carry on without Jones since his voice largely defines their sound. Somewhat nasally, but filled with character, Jones has some quality home-spun moments during the storytelling of the title track and surge of classic metal that runs through “The Portrait of Dorian Gray.” And while the band’s musical direction feels more Manilla Road than Angel Witch, the over ten-minute “The Ripper” provides more than enough classic-caked trad-on-doom tactics.

Carefully reworked and handled by Pagan Altar guitarist Alan Jones (who happens to be Terry’s son), The Room of Shadows wraps Pagan Altar’s run that started nearly four decades ago. As recent expeditions by labels such as Cruz Del Sur Music and Shadow Kingdom have shown, pure, early metal like this will never go out of fashion. May Pagan Altar forever remain fashionable in our own little nook and cranny of the music world.

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