Album Review: Hellripper – Black Arts & Alchemy EP 9 (Speed Metal)

Written by Carcassbomb

  • Hellripper
  • Black Arts & Alchemy EP
  • Blackened Speed Metal
  • Scotland
  • 2019
  • 9/10


At this point I’m covering so many one man bands and it’s crazy the level of quality an individual can put out now. This guy has a bit of a history having released a slew of recordings over the past few years, a lot of which are well received. He’s clearly onto something. I’ll definitely be going back to check out the LP which holds a whopping 89% at the Metallum. This has 91% with less reviewers. Just for context, most of the time fully fledged and veteran bands get worse scores than this every day. There’s plenty of blackened speed metal here with zero compromise to the sound or intensity. Definitely check this one out.

Artwork by Skadvulder

If he didn’t have a photo of himself across the pages, people could pretty easily think it’s a band and I think some people are under that impression. He clearly has a great understanding of what he wants to do with the music, and how to approach that sound with each instrument as well as how to place it all in the mixing. It’s a sound that feels fleshed out and I’m guessing his non stop experience since starting in 2014 has brought him to this point of refinement. It also sounds like he genuinely has fun playing the music.

It’s really thrashy but faster than most in the genre, with the black elements often being bastardized into a variation of deathy crust punk vocals. It’s simultaneously old school and modern vibing. It’s the 8 Ball of extreme metal with a deadly fusion of intoxicating stylings, it feels unique to me. I haven’t really considered a lot of speed metal in recent times but Hellripper might just open my eyes to the better aspects of the genre. Particularly the guitar-work which has the pace and tone of Megadeth on meth but somehow still has the spacing and rhythm involved with slower thrash.

There’s just a great clarity in general and what’s probably a very involved recording and mixing process to get all of these elements balanced across the record as they are. This EP, though short, is as consistent as a bullet and full of some big dick energy.

The cover for this EP channels that lovecraftian necromancy style which I adore. It’s cool how it’s like detailed but almost like he detailed in a vagueness about a lot of the features. It really blends and twists across, all spewing over this altar framed at the bottom. Have I ever mentioned I don’t really know anything about art or digital art? Also this character is exactly how I looked first listening to Hellripper.

This is another EP that benefited greatly from a guest vocalist, with this short of a format, the right guest vocalist in the right spot can make the whole thing pop a lot harder. It felt like Hellripper was in the middle of this massive cosmic battle and as it was nearing a peak a cosmic force from nowhere came to his aid to just annihilate shit. I don’t have a whole lot to add beyond what I’ve said, I can’t hear any faults in the other instruments, his cross instruments discipline is superb.

Drums and bass might not be as strong as the guitar, vocals and mixing but are entirely as strong as they need to be for this sound. There was a moment where I could of sworn Motorhead started playing in another open tab, some riffs are just super close to a lot of common thrash riffs. For a lot of people that’ll be a part of the charm and is perhaps even the point. Like the King Diamond-esque vocal thrown in on the final track to leave a lasting impression.

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