Scotland’s Hellripper is a one man studio project – the brainchild of James McBain- that has felt like it’s in a pressure cooker and  destined to explode in the underground any minute. This latest album may well be the vehicle to propel it to new heights. ‘Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags’ is out now on Peaceville Records.

The precise title of the genre remains somewhat nebulous, Blackened- Trash? Black ’n Roll?  black thrash? Whatever you choose to call this brand of Venom infused thrash metal, it’s a genre that hits a sweet spot and never fails to entertain both live and on the album. Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags features everything fans have come to love from HELLRIPPERS signature sound  as well as the same occult lyricism and of course GOAT’S! That being said the album has more of an emphasis on Scottish folk lore, even the album title borrowing a line or two from the poem “Address to the Devil” by famed  Scots bard Robert Burns.  

The furious album opener ‘The Nuckelavee’ comes in strong at a relentless pace and features some of the best guitar work from James yet! Furious and melodic  yet melodic. Speaking to us on the Horthrowers Podcast he revealed the eclectic influences that went into this album from brit pop to grunge,   on this track specifically … Dire Straights! 

There’s even a part at the end of the Nuckelavee, at the end of the solo which is like the sultans of swing solo ….with the hammer ons and pull off’s

Since speaking to James back in January I have been unable to not hear this every time I listen to this track! The song serves as a taste of what is yet to come on this new album, fitting that it was the first single released.

The next standout track on the album is the title track ‘Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags’ which is easily the mist melodic and song on the album. The opening guitar melody is reminiscent of Testament at their best and the track itself is a slower and more driving song compared to some of the more breakneck thrash songs elsewhere on the album. This is however where I feel McBain is able to shine as a song writer, I had parts of this song in my head for days after first listening. All of this builds to a glorious crescendo featuring bagpipes …yes …. BAGPIPES! Bagpipes which at not point feel out of place or in any way a novelty, they elevate the track to epic new heights.

Photo Credit: Peaceville Records

The album proceeds with tracks like the amusingly titled ‘Goat Vomit Nightmare’ and ‘The Cursed Carrion Crown’ which is Hellripper doing what Hellripper does. Relentlessly paced blackened thrash, with fun, busy riffs and the latter track featuring some fun Iron Maiden inspired guitar harmonies.

The album closer ‘Master Stoor Worm’ clocks in at over 8 minutes and having some of the most variations of any track on the album. Starting almost like a doom metal track, giving way to thrash and spilling out into some of the most melodic playing on the album, ending on a drawn out instrumental passage that winds the album down.

‘Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags’ is a blast start to finish with everything returning fans love about Hellripper with a few new tricks and surprises along the way. In my opinion this is the best album Hellripper has released so far and I am excited to see what the future holds for this goat obsessed young man!

You can get your copy on Hellrippers Bandcamp

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.