Witchcult Records in one of the few deeply underground labels I genuinely trust and keep a close eye on. I may not have much of their catalogue, but the cassette only group has yet to really steer me in the wrong direction. So, when Bandcamp shot out the notification of their latest release, a five song tape from UA (which I assume means Unknown Artist) titled WC016 (which is the label code for this particular release), checking it out was a no brainer. No information on the group could be found on the store front, metal-archives, or even Google. with no idea who this entity is beyond it being a raw black metal outfit, the payment waw sent for one of the few physical pressings available without hearing more than a small snippet. But, in hindsight, was it a worthy purchase, or is this insanely obscure piece of metal history better left a hidden legend?
In the background there have been plenty of whispers about the UK-based Bloodshot Dawn. The self-releasing four-piece dropped their debut album self-titled effort in 2012 following a demo and mildly successful EP. Originally a melodic death and thrash metal act, the band has honed their craft in the years to follow, growing into more of a technical melodic death act that continued to sprawl out and incorporate your standard metalcore/deathcore elements, as well as some progressive metal prowess. To kick off 2018, the independent act rebuilt itself after losing all but founding member Josh McMorran to bring us their third studio album, Reanimation, which is being distributed by Hostile Media. But is this act one that is branching out too far for their own good, or have they locked into something that will make the underground scurry with excitement?
Since the late nineties, brutal death metallers from Glen Falls, New York, Skinless have been pulverizing their ever-expanding fan base with each new release. Sadly, their discography does have a hefty gap following 2006’s pinnacle offering Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead, temporarily disbanding in 2011 for two years, and eventually unleashing their long-awaited fourth album Only the Ruthless Remain in 2015. Fast forward roughly three more years and we are facing their latest studio effort dubbed Savagery. But is this a suitable follow-up, or has the luster of the reunion already overstayed its welcome?
Black Bow Records out of Childer Thornton, UK is a label that has gone from simple underground status to a pretty strong conteneder in the metal world over the years, and it’s been fun watching them grow since the start of this site. The level of quality their roster has been blessed with has been undeniable, sprawling between folk to doom and everything in between. To add an extra kick to 2018, we are given a split release from fellow countrymen Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and Slowmatics titled Totems, an effort that exists through months of communication and idea swapping between the two before they ventured into Skyhammer Studio. The former is a relatively new act that came to be in 2014 and holds two full-lengths and an EP under their belt, while the latter forged back in 2004 and has a number of releases to their name, though mostly splits. But does this pairing make for a memorable offering, or does this outing hold little to keep the listener interested?
The UK’s legendary metallers Saxon have been going strong ever since taking on the name in 1978 following a number of moniker alterations since 1970, and there’s no sign on the pinnacle act stopping anytime soon. In fact, to kick off their presence in 2018 they find themselves working with Silver Lining Music to release their twenty-third full-length effort, Thunder, as well as heading out on tour with fellow legends Judas Priest [check out Ryan’s photography and review of the Wilkes-Barre, PA show HERE]. Sure, Saxon has had some misses here and there, but in recent years their releases have been just as strong and rejuvenating and their earlier classics. But does this new effort show a continuation of that quality, or is it the start of an unexpected downward spiral?