Hellripper – Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags: Album Review

Hellripper (aka James McBain) return with album number three…Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags.

Release Date: 17th February 2023

Label: Peaceville

Format: CD / Digital / Vinyl / Cassette

Hellripper is the brainchild of James McBain. Hailing from Scotland and using their homeland as inspiration, Hellripper deliver an absolute masterclass in speed/thrash metal on Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags.

Pulling on classic thrash influences such as Metallica and Megadeth as well as black bands like Venom and Darkthrone, Hellripper combine so much into their potent potion. Although there is a deep rooted nostalgia in the sound, the music has a real contemporary edge. It certainly doesn’t feel like a re-hash of former years.

The Nuckelavee was the lead track; it is a doozy of a track to kick off Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags. The Nuckelavee are horse-like demons from Orcadian folklore, Musically, drums roll into a pace that will absolutely stop you in your tracks. Despairing cries within the lyrics from McBain make the vocal delivery highly emotive.

The title track of the album is a wonderful example of everything that is great here. A mid-tempo, superb rhythm guitars and soaring solo work encapsulated by shrill black metal style vocals make for a mix that will have you grinning from ear to ear. As the song stretches out over it’s seven minute duration, there are also bagpipes, paying homage to McBain’s homeland, as well as lengthier instrumental sections that hark back to Metallica’s And Justice For All.

If the title track is vast and epic, Goat Vomit Nightmare is a three minute rager. It has the pace of Motörhead at their most furious and the snarl and rampant aggression of a rabid wolf. The Hissing Marshes wades in on top of a seething bassline before the drums join in. Again, the pace is unrelenting.

Of the eight feirce tracks contained within Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags, Mester Stoor Worm (Orcadian evil sea serpent) is the longest and closes out the album in truly mesmerising fashion. Some of the most furious drumming is reserved for this humungous finale. There are also some of the most guttural vocals on display either side of swashbuckling tempo changes and small acoustic interludes. It is a song of many parts and will demand repeated listens to dig into the depths of it.

Whilst Hellripper are cited as a speed/thrash metal act, there are plenty more facets of Hellripper to peel back. McBain is a musical genius in the way he has created such a dynamic album. There is a little bit of help on a few tracks with lead guitar lines but for the most part, this is one man on a mission. Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags is a complete success of a record and one that will be lauded for a long time to come.

Catch the band on tour with Warbringer later this year.

Listen to The Nuckelavee below.

Hellripper: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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