‘Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags’ – Hellripper’s third studio album – establishes a new threshold of excellence and raises the bar further over ‘The Affair of the Poisons’, with an opus standing at the crossroads between the sound that Hellripper has become known for and a whirlwind of different influences up until now yet to be explored, resulting in James McBain’s most personal and diverse work to date. With a greatly expanded scope to the tracks, incorporating more epic and melodic blackened anthems alongside the high-speed metal attack and blistering solos, ‘Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags’ marks a new high point for the band.
Inspired by the landscapes and legends of the Scottish highlands, McBain explores the darker side of Scottish history & folklore – the title itself taken from a line in the Robert Burns poem, ‘Address to the Deil’ – as well as including references to clan culture (including his own) throughout the album. For example, one of the tracks (‘The Cursed Carrion Crown’) is based on the legend of ‘Sawney Bean’ and the Bean Clan (a spelling variation of “McBain”) and tells the story of a family of cannibals that lived in a cave and committed various gruesome acts.
As always, the writing and recording process was carried out by James McBain himself, with a few guests offering contributions in the form of additional vocals and instrumental parts. With recording taking place between March 2021 and June 2022, the album was also mixed by McBain, and mastered by Damian Herring at Subterranean Watchtower Studios. The suitably sinister and ominous artwork appears courtesy of Adam Burke.