Pagan Altar: “Lords Of Hypocrisy” CD

The new Pagan Altar album has arrived, in style, some twenty years after the songs were originally recorded. Perhaps it would have come sooner if the masters had not deteriorated beyond repair. But crucially, the band was more than willing to return to the studio, rehearse and re-record the album, from scratch, long after they had split, to ensure these songs were not lost forever. For that grit and determination, the band must be praised. They must also be praised for their ability and creativity because “Lords Of Hypocrisy” is one of the most accomplished and moving records you will ever lay ears on. The title track opens with a church organ and gentle singing before giving way to the blistering lead guitar of Alan Jones, the heavy percussion of Trevor Portch and Mark Elliott, then ultimately, to the unmistakable voice of Terry Jones. It is striking that their style is still in tact, yet equally refreshing and mature. What’s more, the lyrics, vocals and music have been delicately crafted to harmonize the whole listening experience. That sense of order, bombast and grandeur continues throughout this exceptional album. But never could it be more evident than on the sweeping “Sentinels Of Hate” and the damning “Armageddon” which span each and every colour of the seasons dark, beautiful and in fluid motion. The raw energy and depth of emotion of “The Masquerade” is guaranteed to set hearts a flutter, make hair stand on end, or move to tears, much to the adoration of their fans and the envy of other musicians. Somehow, as improbable as it may seem, “Volume One” has been eclipsed. Suffice to say, if you can only purchase one album in ’04, regardless of my many and varied recommendations, then make it this one because it has it all.

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