Pagan Altar was formed in 1978 by Terry and Alan Jones, who are father and son, respectively. Alongside Witchfinder General, they are one of the few NWOBHM bands to play doom metal.The band's concerts are characterised by moody, epic and heavy music, blended with stage effects which accentuate their interest in occult themes.
Pagan Altar's only release from the NWOBHM era was an independent, self-released, self-titled demo album (which was heavily bootlegged in later years). The album would be re-released as an official full-length on Oracle Records in 1998, retitled "Volume 1".
The group reformed in 2004 to re-record an album of previously unreleased material which had been written during their original tenure as a band. The resulting album, "Lords of Hypocrisy", met with a positive reception from fans, and a third full-length album duly followed in 2006, entitled "Mythical and Magical".
In 2008, Pagan Altar co-headlined the "Metal Brew" Festival in Mill Hill, alongside Cloven Hoof.Both bands also performed at the "British Steel IV" Festival at the Camden Underworld in 2009.Pagan Altar returned to headline the "British Steel V" Festival in April 2011 and the "Live Evil" Festival in October 2011.
In 2012, Pagan Altar began work on their next album "Never Quite Dead", in a purpose-built recording studio in the back garden of vocalist Terry Jones's home. The 2013 lineup included: Dean Alexander on drums, Vince Hempstead on rhythm guitar, and William Gallagher on bass guitar.
On 15 May 2015, vocalist Terry Jones died of cancer. The band had finished recording their upcoming album, which was in its final mastering stage. In 2017, Alan Jones announced that he intends to partially re-record the band's upcoming album as he nor the late Terry Jones were happy with the finished product.