The Room Of Shadows
Released: 2017, Temple Of Mystery
Reviewer: Carlos Llanas
When the subject of Doom Metal is presented in any given situation, many Doom Metal outfits come to mind such as Candlemass, Pentagram, Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus just to name a few. Some new, some old, some familiar, and some not so much. Then, there is the highly underrated Pagan Altar. Lead by the late Terry Jones, Pagan Altar recorded their first full length entitled "Volume 1" back in 1982, but would not see the light of day to grace our ears until many years later in the year 1998. The next full length album would come six years later titled "Lords of Hypocrisy", and what a giant it was. The next two years following that album, Pagan Altar would solidify themselves as Doom Metal giants. With the release of "Judgement of the Dead" and the massive release "Mythical & Magical", Pagan Altar made a statement to all...they would not be forgotten...forever to remain.
Now, 11 years later, here they are again with their newest release following the death of founding member and legend Terry Jones in 2015. The album titled "The Room of Shadows" was put out by Temple of Mystery Records and was supposed to have been released years prior under the title "Never Quite Dead". AFter Terry's passing, the album was partially re-recorded to what is now "The Room of Shadows" lead by Terry's son, Alan Jones. Alan has been an enormous part of Pagan Altar since the beginning. The only difference, is that now he released this one with only the memory of Terry in his heart and his voice on the tracks.
Of course, the first thing noticed about this album is the artwork. It is a chilling painting of a sitting woman reaching towards a sphere on the floor in a candle lit room. The image gives a sorrowful atmosphere as it should. The feeling of complete despair and agony in her face as she looks for answers that lie on the floor. Upon first glance I knew that it was going to be a deadly album. Well, I wasn't wrong.
As I listened religiously to this album to further give a reflection of it in my own words, I found that it is riddled with all the goodies that can only be provided by the Pagan Altar of old. The first track "Rising of The Dead" has to be my favorite song on the whole damn thing. Not to take away from the otheres, But "Rising of the Dead" is a complete journey to another world. From the intro, to the main riff, and the glorious transitions, this track gives you every emotion possible. It changes tempo magnificently and leaves no gray areas in-between. The first four minutes are a doom filled listen, and shortly after, the tempo picks up a bit, followed by a thunderous bass line and a very tasty lick by Mr. Alan Jones. This formula persists throughout the track, and it makes for a serious heavy hitting tune.
As a whole, the album has a level of consistency that is very pleasing. Each song has it's unique moments that are catchy and very exciting to listen to. There is, however, one moment where I found myself saying "What the FUCK?!" and it came during the song "Danse Macabre". There is a riff on the track that is almost exactly like "Wayward Son" by Kansas. Other than that, the song is phenomenal. My favorite tracks are "Rising of the Dead", "The Portrait of Dorian Gray", "The Ripper" and most definitely the outro titled "After Forever". "After Forever" although being short and sweet, I feel as if Terry Jones was giving his final farewell. It was touching and haunting all in one.
If you are a fan of Pagan Altar, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. It has all the elements of old, It definitely still has the Pagan Altar feel, and above else, it is a completely fun listen!