"The Time Lord"

By Earthdog

PAGAN ALTAR is arguably the very best band in the ENTIRE world that have flown under the radar for far too many years. It gives me great pleasure to announce this amazing EP release. This N.W.O.B.H.M. band is still going strong as they have written a mountain of music that has since been released over the years on their very own label. These are the oldest known recordings to exist dating all the way back to 1978! These are demo recordings and they didn’t properly record a few of these other songs until later on. These demo recordings are the birth of what I believe is one of the very best bands ever existing. This album has atmosphere written all over it and there’s no one that remotely sounds like PAGAN ALTAR. Bands and people today are just discovering these sounds for the first time and now they influence a ton of music that’s being written today in the metal world. The CD version has been re-mastered to scrub and preserve this recording to the best possible sound that we can deliver. This has only been released on vinyl until now.” ( Shadow Kingdom Press Release )

That press release may be a little over the top but there is no doubting what an important band Pagan Altar has been for the development of the doom metal genre. This is interesting because the band has never been a doom metal band really. They formed in 1978 and were part of the N.W.O.B.H.M movement of the early 80's even though they went largely unnoticed for many years. It also has to be pointed out that this new release isn't new at all, it is actually a reissue of early material that originally surfaced on demos and then on the EP of the same name released in 2004. Despite it being a bit disappointing, it is still a worthy reissue of 5 tracks that have stood the test of time very well indeed. None of these tracks sound too dated but if there is a track that does sound a little weather-beaten, it would be the opening 'Highway Cavalier' which sounds a little ancient to my ears. The riffing  sounds pure early 80's, hear it and you will know what I mean... you just don't hear riffing like this much anymore but any dissatisfaction with the riffing is soon blown away by the killer lead that opens the EP. That tune is followed by the title track which carries a similar vibe although it has a more timeless feel about it. But from here on, you get nothing but classic Pagan Altar.

'Judgment Of The Dead' and 'The Black Mass' are filled with wonderful melodies, killer riffs, exciting vocals and more hair-raising leads. Most readers of this site would know these songs like old friends but for those that have been living under a rock someplace, this is classic doom-tinged heavy metal - the kind that simply NEVER dates. The best (in my opinion) is saved for last with 'Reincarnation' which is a perfect melting pot of sabbathian meets Judas Priest-esque riffing and melody and then the EP all comes to a all-too quick ending. Whoever came up with the original idea to reissue these classic tunes deserves his or her own statue somewhere. It is about bloody time the original Pagan Altar releases got a make-over and while I would prefer to hear brand new material, this is still an essential release for ALL metal heads, not just doom metal fans. I must also remind you that this is just the first of reissued Pagan Altar albums set to be released by the end of 2012 if the information I have read is correct. It is true that some passages on 'The Time Lord' sounds a little long in the tooth nowadays but the killer riffage, leads and vocals make up for all of those moments.....8/10.