For years people thought the most formidable things to come out of Scotland were William Wallace and the Loch Ness Monster, but James McBain and his project Hellripper are quickly changing that perception.
Essentially a one-man battering ram, Hellripper started the descent into darkness with 2017’s Coagulating Darkness before solidifying his intentions with The Affair Of The Poisons in 2020.
By bringing to life an electrifying brand of blackened thrash metal laced with scintillating solos and themes normally considered taboo, McBain has crafted a sound uniquely his own which is at times mesmerizing, others terrifying but always fast, frenetic and brutal.
With Hellripper’s third album Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags ready to be unleashed on February 17, McBain set aside some time to sit down with HEAVY to talk about creating the perfect sonic landscape.
One of the topics we discussed was the lyrical inspiration for the album which was measured from the landscapes and legends of the Scottish Highlands.
“I moved to the Highlands about four years ago,” he began, “near the end of the writing process for the last album. And I’m not usually inspired or influenced by my environment, but being in the Highlands and surrounded by these landscapes it was hard not to be inspired. It made me want to look into some Scottish folklore and some Scottish history and stuff, kind of the darker side. I didn’t want… I wasn’t looking to speak about William Wallace and that kind of stuff. I wanted it to be stuff that would suit Hellripper’s aesthetic, like the Devil in Scotland and Sea Serpents and all this evil stuff. I thought originally I would get one or two songs out of it for the new album, but after reading more into the Scottish folklore I realised there was so much to write about and eventually thought let’s make the whole album centered around the theme of Scotland. I’ve never done an album with a theme or concept before, and I thought this would be interesting. It’s also something a bit different to what the usual black speed, black thrash lyrical themes are. I knew a bit about these folklores beforehand, most of the stuff I’d heard of but didn’t know the details. So looking into that you’ve got stuff like The Nuckelavee which is a giant, grotesque, skinless horse-like demon that has the torso of a rider attached to its back, and it’s got poisonous breath that can wilt crops and cause plagues. So it’s perfect for the Hellripper aesthetic.”
In the full interview, James discusses Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags in greater detail, the personal nature of the album, creating such a broad sound as a solo project, more of the inspiration for the music, recording and mixing your own music, future shows and more.