HELLRIPPER – Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags
March 7, 2023, 8 months ago
Searing the cold winds of winter, Hellripper shreds the metal landscape with third opus Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags. Known for blackened thrash akin to Midnight, the UK one-man wrecking crew shows great maturity with a true thrash masterpiece. Just labeling it as thrash doesn’t do this one justice as there are flashes of dark melodicism, speed, and black metal with a traditional flair.
Mainman James McBain dives into legends and myths of the Scottish Highlands and that inspiration helped craft this beast. The riffs are plentiful and hit hard with smooth transitions and McBain’s horror invoking vocals guiding the path. The songs are longer and meatier than past efforts, but sits at a tight 8 songs and 43 minutes.
The title track roars in with monster guitars and a memorable volcanic riff that eventually gives way to a lush melodic soloing section. There are bits of everything in here from the black metal precision of Dissection to the intricate riffs of Portrait to the speeding and no-nonsense attitude of Motörhead to the melodic soloing of Iron Maiden, and the manic intensity of Evil Invaders. It all melds to this mammoth creation of Hellripper and everything hits just right and keeps the listener surprised.
Even the rush of the 3:15 “Goat Vomit Nightmare” holds unexpected musical moods with an acoustic break followed by a magnificent solo section. Opener and first single “The Nuckelavee” sets the tone showcasing what the album has to offer ticking the boxes of Storm Of The Light’s Bane-era Dissection and startling leads wrapped in a full-thrash assault. “The Cursed Carrion Crown” is an example of why thrash is such a fun genre – the riffs and tempo changes on this one are insane – plus check out the blast beats and blackened intensity towards the final moments of the track. “The Hissing Marshes” roars in with that Lemmy-like attitude letting the bass ride the rhythm before bursting to a speeding assault.
Completely blown away – the guitars are gritty and meaty with the album having a full sound, but not too clean. Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags is a perfect storm of extremity, speed, and technical prowess - be sure to pick this one up.