If Hellripper doesn’t slow down, their discography page is going to be rivaling that of the satanic thrash speedy boys in Abigail in just a few short years. But Hellripper never slows down. The brainchild of Scotland native James McBain, Hellripper have been refining the craft of high speed, razor-edged black/thrash with fun-filled blasphemic spirit. Since the release of the deservedly well-received Coagulating Darkness full-length in 2017, the band have redoubled their efforts, with James assembling a full band for live gigs on top of releasing a pair of splits last year, which brings us to Black Arts & Alchemy, the EP released this past April on the recently resurrected Reaper Metal Productions.
Hellripper never let the forward momentum of progress interfere with the original mission statement of delivering frantic, heart-racing heavy metal, instead taking the approach so often credited to bands such as Bolt Thrower, slowly adjusting the dynamic to keep things fresh and improve their chops. The strongest example of this lies in the title track, as the main riff on “Black Arts & Alchemy” easily marks the highlight of the release and a high watermark for the band. It encompasses the energy that’s to be expected from the band while adding a complexity previously untouched, changing keys and dancing across the the undying one-two hits of the drums. Conversely, “Headless Angels” feels firmly rooted in Hellripper’s style, blurring the already thin line between thrash and speed metal as it embraces both open chord riffing and chugging palm mutes. The falsetto scream in the final moments of the track seals the deal, delivering a full-on erection of steel to any who feel the pounding pulse of metal deep within their loins.
Not only does Black Arts & Alchemy feel like a confident, well-grounded step forward for Hellripper, it never loses sight of what makes the band fun in the first place. McBain simply gets it, and may his insight as to what makes this style so great never, ever die.
P.S. This is an open call to any promoters in the U.S. to PLEASE bring this band to the States already.