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Hellripper with Another Black/Thrash Attack! - 90%

MetalMegalomania, April 25th, 2019

For what the EP lacks in material, it certainly makes up for in quality and established flair. With only twelve minutes between the runout and needle drop, prior to release I expected something a little more from the EP in terms of flavour, as generic black/thrash doesn’t really get me going. Luckily for us, there’s a healthy mix of newfound flair and originality here, all placed on top of Hellripper’s delightful sound that we all know and love.

Hellripper seems to have kept the fast black/thrash core of their sound on Black Arts & Alchemy. We still have anthems like “All Hail the Goat” that wouldn’t be out of place on radio queue at your local dive bar, with James’ raspy vocals and hard-hitting sonic attitude purveying through your speakers. However, Black Arts & Alchemy seems to feature a lot more playful guitar breaks where the maniacal assault of percussion and screaming comes to a coordinated halt in place of a little flair. There are a few instances on the EP where James puts on some bluesy, almost medieval-sounding guitar licks that control the mix for a few repetitions until the other instruments come back in. These interjections accomplish two things: they keep the tracks interesting and diverse with the time signature changes, while also stamping the material with a thematic flair. I know it’s cheesy for the music style at hand, but these portions just sound downright evil, but oddly fun at the same time. They’re also implemented very well into the song structures here.

In terms of unique notable qualities other than this particular change, there aren’t too many. This is more-so to do with the subgenre at hand, of course, as black/thrash bands tend to stick within whatever flavour of devilish output they prefer. Hellripper has turned a friendly face towards the punkier side of things with this new output, but it’s still Hellripper. I predict a strong, steady, and predictably-enjoyable career for our Scottish friend, to which everyone will welcome with open arms, I’m sure. But hey, prove me wrong, right?