Having only released one full-length first time around, the band originally split in 1982. “The Time Lord” EP was their first release after reforming in 2004 and with no apparent end to the enthusiasm for a bygone age, it’s now deemed ripe for the re-release treatment.
The most immediate impact of the EP is its overwhelming authenticity. This may be a band now recording and performing in the digital age, but the super-fuzzed guitars and biscuit tin drums mark Pagan Altar as a band with its heart still very much in touch with primitive analogue, both in terms of sonic quality and the hazy, foreboding atmospheres it creates.
If you revel in the rawness of Sabbath’s debut, you’ll find much to recommend Pagan Altar and the influence of Iommi is abundantly clear, as is that of a Crowley-inspired Zeppelin, but more interesting is how, thirty years too late, Pagan Altar are finally assuming their rightful place in the hierarchy of British occult-themed metal alongside Witchfinder General, Clovenhoof and Witchfynde. It’s a long-overdue recognition.
Also worthy of note is to what extent the proto-doom of outstanding tracks like “Judgement Of The Dead” and “Reincarnation” resonates today in the music of contemporary acts. From Ghost to Electric Wizard, the sinister corners of today’s metal scene would be a lot less interesting without the influence of Pagan Altar.
An enjoyable and rewarding listen on many levels, offering a glimpse into metal’s dark past and giving context to its present.