Pagan Altar
The Room of Shadows


4.0
excellent

Review

by manosg STAFF
September 10th, 2017 | 28 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A glorious closing chapter for one of the most underappreciated storytellers.

Pagan Altar has always been more than just catchy riffs, tasty leads and inspired songwriting; their brand of metal is special because of the vivid images it conjures. Their music feels like a walk in the English countryside or among the stones at Stonehenge. Each stone represents an influence of theirs, ranging from Black Sabbath to Rainbow and Rush, among others. Therefore, it is not surprising that their blend of NWOBHM and doom had a great sense of melody, adventure, and variety. In addition, no one should be shocked by the similarity between one specific riff on “Danse Macabre” and Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son” because Pagan Altar is simply not your average doom metal band. Actually, doom metal sounds too restrictive in the case of this underrated British act.

Pagan Altar’s latest effort The Room of Shadows, is once more a highly interesting and infectious mix of NWOBHM, doom metal, folk and progressive rock which bears the seal of this unique band. What is more, the music has a distinct nature-like feeling combined with a Victorian essence. Just by looking at the brilliant cover art, and listening to opener “Rising of the Dead”, one can feel part of that room, sitting opposite to the female character (vocalist Terry Jones’ granddaughter, Ellie) reading the album’s stories. In fact, without dissecting the LP into different parts, this is The Room of Shadows’ biggest triumph; the fact that it feels like a set of intertwined stories. Everything has a cinematic quality, like an anthology or a Hammer Horror film with different chapters about witches, vampires, forbidden halls and Victorian-era murders in a gothic setting.

Of course, nothing of the above would be feasible without guitarist Alan Jones’ majestic playing. Too often, we come across doom metal which revolves around a riff that is played to eternity and ends up being stagnant, repetitive and downright boring. The case here is the exact opposite, as Alan Jones has fused his contagious riffing with amazing melodic leads and solos which complement each story/song perfectly and provide a needed variety. It is apparent that Jones’ playing has its roots on ‘70s legends such as Ritchie Blackmore, Alex Lifeson or even Andy Powell/Ted Turner (Wishbone Ash) but everything has been filtered and performed with a style of his own. In fact, it is the guitar playing which makes the offering less grim for a doom metal LP and provides some magick dust.

Nevertheless, even though the guitar work is impressive, the focus is on songwriting which has a certain epic vibe. Songs like “Rising of the Dead” or “The Ripper” (which would benefit greatly from a better production) clock at almost 9 and 10 minutes respectively but feel like they are shorter because of their adventurous and rather progressive nature which includes twists and turns that provide the aforementioned variety that many doom records lack. Take “Rising of the Dead” for example; even though the main riff remains the same, the soloing breaks the monotony. In addition, songs like the melodic “The Portrait of Dorian Gray”, the prog influenced “Danse Macabre” and the atmospheric title track with the acoustic guitar playing provide a fresh breath of air.

Even though The Room of Shadows was recorded in 2014, it followed a similar path to some of its predecessors which were released during a later period. The reason, according to Alan Jones, was that he wasn’t completely happy with the rhythm section’s performance. Judging by the outcome, this seems like a wise decision and the fact that he doesn’t wish to continue Pagan Altar without his father at the mic makes The Room of Shadows a very worthy last album and by extension “After Forever” a heart wrenching yet fitting closing chapter to Pagan Altar’s grand book of stories.




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user ratings (13)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
PsychicChris (4.5)
It’s a shame that it took this long for The Room of Shadows to be completed but fans are sure to a...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
manosg
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2017


10454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Needs more love.

Beardog
September 10th 2017


1538 Comments


You made me really curious about this release, I don't fancy doom that much, but this got my attention

manosg
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2017


10454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is not your typical doom so I think that you may like it. There are a couple of standard doom tracks but overall there is more variety than your standard doom.

Beardog
September 10th 2017


1538 Comments


Yeh, it sounds really 'old'. Love it though, the folk influences are really nice

manosg
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2017


10454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome. Glad you enjoy it man.

ChaoticVortex
September 10th 2017


474 Comments


This is one of those bands, that caught my attention a while ago, yet I didn't took the time to listen to them. Might change in the future considering that I love old school doom metal. Great review.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2017


10454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Vortex. Knowing your taste, I am pretty certain you will enjoy their albums.

hansoloshotfirst
September 10th 2017


497 Comments


yep, this rules like well...every other Pagan Altar album. a worthy end.

Digging: Cerebral Incubation - Bifurcation Of Promordial Slamateurs

deslad
September 10th 2017


596 Comments


Amazing review man, very vivid and colourful writing. This got my attention and since I quite liked Pagan Altar's previous releases, I'll definitely give this one a listen asap.

Digging: Neil Young - Harvest

manosg
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2017


10454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you very much! Hope you enjoy.

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2017


2636 Comments


Still haven't heard this because I'm waiting for my CD to arrive but I run to the mailbox every morning in anticipation. Wonderful review.

AdolfChrist
September 11th 2017


11935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

After Forever gave me chills.

Digging: Rainbow Danger Club - Souvenirs

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2017


2636 Comments


R.I.P. Terry

manosg
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2017


10454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Snox. You're gonna have a blast once the CD arrives, cover art is wonderful as well.

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2017


2636 Comments


Agreed, Adam Burke has been killing it with the album covers lately.

AdolfChrist
September 11th 2017


11935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i didnt think this would have a review so quickly, let alone two. V1 and LOH need reviews as well.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2017


10454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For sure. Both this one and M&M have two reviews each which means that we should have probably made a better allocation. You never know though, both Vol 1 and LOH are pretty great so they might get reviewed at some point.

Hawks
September 11th 2017


50143 Comments


Gotta jam this hard.

Digging: Cradle of Filth - Cryptoriana ? The Seductiveness of Decay

AdolfChrist
September 11th 2017


11935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Have you jammed any PA before hawks?

Hawks
September 11th 2017


50143 Comments


Can't say that I have bro, I'm slacking.



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