NWOBHM legends Pagan Altar and up-and-coming Danish death metal band Phrenelith join the Old Grave Fest!
Imagine this: you’re living in 1982 and a friend just lent you a demo of an unheard of band, insisting that you really need to check this out. The band is Pagan Altar, the demo is Pagan Altar, the first song is, well, Pagan Altar. You pop the tape into your stereo and a delicate, yet somehow ominous humming starts flowing from the speakers, then a short satanic invocation is proclaimed emphatically, all instruments explode in a wave of crushing, unforgiving doom, the magical sad croon of Terry Jones enters and owns the stage in hypnotic fashion, the tempo speeds up and finally everything ignites and melts together in a blaze of fiery heavy metal riffs and solos. That’s it. That’s your template right there for some of the best metal music ever created, replicated again and again by Pagan Altar, with undying passion and inspiration, during a long career that initially seemed doomed, pun probably intended. Indeed, they were forced to split sometime after that famed demo (eventually rereleased as a full length in 1998 and renamed Volume 1), but reunited in the early 2000s and marked the decade with two more giant milestones for the heavy/doom genre, Lords of Hypocrisy (2004) and Mythical & Magical (2006).
Sadly, Terry Jones passed away in 2015 and, after a two year hiatus, founding member Alan Jones revived the band under the name Time Lord, for a couple of shows in the memory of his father, with vocals duty assumed by Brendan Radigan of promising US doom metal band Magic Circle. Ultimately, the band decided to revert to the Pagan Altar moniker and carry on for a few select shows in 2018, when they will also promote the new album The Room of Shadows, recorded with Terry on vocals a while back, but only released this year. The band themselves don’t know yet if they will continue post 2018, so do not miss on any chance to see them next year.
As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve made a point each year to present (for the first time in Romania) bands that are at the forefront of present-day death metal. For Old Grave Fest 2018, we’ve searched, again, the sewers of Kill-Town, only to find the entity that is Phrenelith. Formed in late 2013, the band took little more than an year to flesh out the first few songs, with two demos coming out in 2015 on Extremely Rotten Productions. Some of the songs would make their way onto the first full-length record, Desolate Endscape (2017), one of the highlights of this year. Eschewing the rules of the subgenre christened “caverncore” by valiant keyboard warriors, the songwriting maturity on display here is astonishing, from the short, intense number Dysmorphosis to the whirlwind that is the closing track, Channeling a Seismic Eruption. No, we can’t guarantee the band members hadn’t even heard Incantation or Funebrarum, but we can vouch that there’s nothing derivative about this riff-driven slab of dark death metal.
Until now :
Dawn of Winter
Eggs Of Gomorrh
More TBA !
Old Grave Fest VII, 12-13 October 2018, Club fabrica, Bucharest, Romania. Two day passes available now via paypal at http://www.rtmc.ro/tickets/ and online at https://www.iabilet.ro/bilete-old-grave-fest-editia-a-vii-a-29961/, for the price of 125 lei/28 euro.