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?
Jumalhämärä wrapped up 2017 by issuing both a full-length effort,and another extensive one-track EP. The latter is the ominous experimental piece known as The Black Coming, a mostly instrumental affair that acts more like another ambient driven piece of nightmare fuel than anything else. It was also issued through Triumph Transgressions, a small Finnish label that put out a new Altar Stomper recording, as well as a reissue of Hail‘s Inheritance of Evilness. But is this creation from the four-piece of the same country yet another interesting one, or is it more a generic horror-tinged composition?
Death Keepers is a spanish-based heavy metal four-piece that came together in 2011, though hasn’t really made their presence known from the studio as much as you’d expect by this point of their career. The group’s ranks remained fairly stable over the years, allowing them to unleash their independent debut EP On the Sacred Way before parting with bassist Alan Prieto a year later, then drummer Noel Corredor in 2015. It wouldn’t be until about four years later the band would release their first full-length, Rock This World, through Fighter Records and kicking off 2018 with a strong dose of traditional heavy metal with some hard rock influence at times. But is it a solid enough effort to make up for the silence since the previous outing, or is there little shine to this potentially hidden gem?