Interview: HellripperApr 13
One-man Scottish band rips it up with old-school black-thrash
If you listened to episode 48 recently of this site’s heavy metal podcast, you heard a ferocious new one-man band by the name of Hellripper faithfully channel the spirits of Bathory, Venom, and Slayer with its brand of blackened thrash metal. After a few splits and an EP, the project’s debut full length album, Coagulating Darkness is coming out April 14th, and mastermind James McBain talked a little about it.
Aside from a few underground breakouts like Saor recently, we don’t hear much in metal community from Scotland. What’s the scene like, especially in the far-north where you are?
Well, I couldn’t really tell you what the scene is like anywhere other than Aberdeen since I have never actually witnessed it first-hand. All I know is that up in Glasgow and Edinburgh, we do get quite a lot of “known” underground bands as well as larger bands playing shows. In Aberdeen however, there is not much of a metal scene at all at the moment. There seems to be a lot of new “doom” bands forming right now but as far as extreme metal goes, it’s not so good. Ever since the “main” venue for putting on shows closed last year, interest in the scene seems to have dwindled. Hopefully it’ll get back to how it used to be.
I could go on about the hints of Venom, Bathory, Slayer, etc. that I hear in Hellripper’s music, but how would you yourself describe it?
I describe the music as black/speed metal. Fast music, d-beats, thrash beats, guitar solos, “evil” lyrics, a lot of “Ughs”.
Your music is pretty faithful at channelling the old-school influences, but feels pretty damn fresh at the same time. Is pushing a familiar aesthetic forward with modern flair a conscious effort, or is it just what you write after growing up in the modern music era while consuming a lot of classic metal?
I guess it’s just what comes to me naturally. Of course, the main influence is the old-school music of the 80’s (Kreator, Venom, Sabbat, etc) but I also draw a lot of influence from more modern bands who are playing a similar style but seem to be doing something slightly different (Evil Invaders, Enforcer, Blackevil for example).
Coagulating Darkness is your first full-length under the Hellripper name, how has the music evolved from the various splits and EPs you’ve put out previously?
With the full-length, I consciously decided to go for a more thrash and speed metal sound in the music as opposed to the “metalpunk” sound of the previous stuff. The punk influence is still there of course but is just less prominent.
You go full DIY between the music and production, having written/performed/and recorded everything; what part of the process have you learned more from making this record, writing songs or recording and mixing them?
That’s a tough one actually. I think over the past year I have learned a lot in these aspects. I believe the songs on the full-length are all a lot more “complex” musically than anything I’ve done before. The recording and mixing of the album basically followed the same process as always but over the past year, by working on another full-length by a band of mine (Lock Howl) and with the Hellripper one, I have learned a lot of new recording and mixing “techniques” and developed a better ear. This, in my opinion, has resulted in the album sounding 10x better than the previously released material.
Is there any thought to making the project a full band with your live line-up, or is Hellripper strictly going to remain a one-man affair with guest appearances?
For the moment, it is just going to remain a one-man affair. But we have talked about doing some recordings for splits or whatever as a full band to see how that turns out.
What are the plans for Hellripper after the release of the new album? Any gigging or even touring?
We have a few gigs for this year (always looking for more) including an appearance at ‘Old Grave Fest’ in Romania in October which we are looking forward to. Aside from that, I am as always working on new songs and thoughts will be on the next album!