One look at the cover art for “The Manifestation of Evil” should tell you immediately what Hellripper is all about. Both the band name and the lack of colour indicate that this release is going to consist of raw, primal evil. In other words: blackened speed metal! The band (or rather, 1-man show) waste no time with filler as there are 4 tracks here that don’t even combine for 10 minutes of playtime. Nevertheless, Hellripper’s brevity plays to their strengths. This is most evident on the opening track “Flesh Ripper”, where great riffs reign supreme. This song is by far the best on the EP, and its chorus is incredibly infectious, both because of the riff underneath it, and because of the calls of “beware of the Flesh Ripper!”. Whether you cite Venom, Midnight, Bathory, or whoever else as an influence, this song fits the bill. Things get even more enjoyable when the guitars cut out in favour of a drum/bass break before the Motorhead-esque guitar solo. But as quickly as the song gets going, it’s over.
Luckily for us listeners, song two, “Total Mayhem”, is the other highlight. Once again, the song is successful because of its punky, simplistic riffing in the chorus, and easy to growl along to chorus. This song steps up the speed even further than “Flesh Ripper” did, and ultimately provides an incredibly energetic jolt to an already inspired release. After these two tracks, Hellripper provides two more songs in a similar vein. They don’t manage to be quite as good as the first couple of tracks, but they definitely don't sound out of place. With that said, “Trial By Fire” is differs from the rest of the EP in that it offers some harmonized guitars at one point.
The mainman behind Hellripper, James McBain, has the perfect voice for this sound. His words sound more like tortured screams. They’re understandable enough that you don’t lose that old-school 80s feel, but are also brutal enough that the band doesn’t feel tame compared to their peers. At times, it actually seems as though his voice becomes harsher. For example, “Black Mass Sacrifice” shows McBain actively trying to rip his throat out. This is in stark contrast to the first two songs where he was closer to Cronos than he would become on this later track. In any case, his vocals, along with all of the rest of the instrumentation, are more than competent. The only slight complaint I have is that the production seems to differ between the songs. Nothing sounds drastically different, but I noticed during each listen that I had to adjust the volume as each new track started. In any case, this type of music isn’t meant to sound perfect, so it doesn’t hurt the release too bad. Ultimately, “The Manifestation of Evil” is exactly what the title describes. This release is a prime example of witching metal, and a necessary release for all fans of this style.
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4.1/5 or 82%.
Written by Scott