HellripperBlack Arts & Alchemy (Reaper Metal Productions)

Remember the first time you heard heavy metal? That pure adrenaline hit? The overwhelming, intoxicating rush? If you don’t feel the same way when All Hail The Goat tears into your eardrums, then you need to check your vital signs.

Boasting not one but two contenders for riff of the year, it’s a glorious opener, with the raw spirit of early 80s thrash and speed metal coursing through its veins. Whiplash,  Overkill, Die By The Sword… it would have stood tall among them all.  

All Hail The Goat is also proof – along with the rest of the Black Arts & Alchemy EP – that Hellripper mastermind James McBain is one of the best songwriters in the underground right now. Indeed, Toxic Holocaust’s Joel Grind mastered this record – and the American doesn’t put his name to any old Motörshite.

Since 2017’s Coagulating Darkness debut hit, the Scot has drip fed his growing fanbase with a couple of splits – and songs like Hellkvlt Warfare Commando showed that his first forays into blackened thrash punk were no flash in the cauldron.

Black Arts & Alchemy confirms that too – and demonstrates both the Scot’s dedication to the core Hellripper sound and his ability to bend different facets of extremity to his will. The title track, for instance, is built around intricate, Faustian riffs which dance around the song like whirling dervishes, while Decrepit Christ and Headless Angels take the Scandicore of Disfear and Wolfpack and paint it pitch black. McBain first visited d-beat crustyland in early work like Flesh Ripper, but the ferocity (backed by a heavier sound, courtesy of Grind) has moved up several notches since then.

Throw in a cover of Running Wild’s Iron Heads (available on the CD release) and you have a vicious rampage of an EP, one that bodes extremely well for Hellripper’s next full-length.

Frankly, we’re counting down the days.