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Ripping Hell a new one - 86%

gasmask_colostomy, October 26th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Reaper Metal Productions

To say that Hellripper took the underground by storm with Coagulating Darkness in 2017 is clearly an understatement, since even the bandname itself is much more specific about what happened to those dwelling below. With Black Arts & Alchemy, that means we should know what to expect, yet rabid blackened speed metal is always more surprising than it should be. Sole member James McBain has lost neither his thrashy playing chops nor caustic yell, imbuing the restless 12 minutes of this EP with plenty of tasty riffs and vigorous tempo shifts.

If you have ever found yourself gritting your teeth and shaking the sweat out of your hair to the sounds of Midnight or Whipstriker, the heads-down speed and ragged distorted drums of ‘Decrepit Christ’ and ‘All Hail the Goat’ will have you doing the same as you dizzily stagger into your sofa from a home headbanging overdose. Hellripper is not a second-string black speed name though, and the EP’s title track proves why: dancing melodic guitar work brings a crazed intensity to the choppy riffing of the verses, while the abrupt pause before the recitation of the title is magic itself. If the melodies have you thinking that Beethoven may even have conducted them, that’s nothing compared to the transition into the stunning solo.

Though seemingly a mere taster of new music, Black Arts & Alchemy will certainly be devoured by the legions of hungry fans following Hellripper for scraps. Compared to the title track, the Witchery-influenced closer ‘Headless Angels’ is a minor let-down; however, the overall quality is strong, the production and performance superb, and there certainly isn’t time to get bored.

Originally written for Metalegion #5 -