Ruby The Hatchet

Planetary Space Child

Written by: AP on 04/09/2017 22:26:48

Either the tide of ‘70s rock revival that rose with Graveyard’s 2011 breakthrough album, “Hisingen Blues”, has begun to subside or my interest in the genre has waned — but the fact remains that records of that style and standard seem to be scarce of late. One exception to the drought, however, is Ruby the Hatchet’s latest heavy psych odyssey, “Planetary Space Child”, which catches the ear not by way of novel ideas, but by honouring the band’s heritage and dragging the listener back to a time when Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and Pentagram reigned supreme. The key difference, of course, is that Ruby the Hatchet is led by a female voice (that of Jillian Taylor), which bestows the music with a mysterious and ethereal atmosphere reminiscent of Jex Thoth. And although the tritone guitar riffs deployed across the album do emit an odour of ‘Sabbath worship, it is the psychedelic influence that makes itself most prominent on this fourth album of ‘Hatchet’s.

Whether the band is digging into its proto-metal inspirations on the likes of “Killer” and “Gemini”, or diving into the layered depths of the more subdued “Fool” and “Lightning Comes Again”, listening to the music imbues you with the overwhelming sensation of passing through a wormhole (as imagined by modern cinema). The album was ostensible recorded in a 19th century estate in the woods of Pennsylvania and perhaps therefore, as well as in spite of it, producers Joe Boldizar & Zach Goldstein were able to conjure the spacious, yet vibrant mix needed to accommodate that feeling. None of the instruments — be it Johnny ‘Scarps’ Scarperia’s guitar, Lake Muir’s bass, Sean Hur’s keys or Hammond organ, or Owen Stewart’s drums — are given special privileges, and the soundscape is all the richer for it. The songs are not woven around Taylor’s singing, either; instead, her presence is quite ephemeral, like the guiding voice of an astral experience, to which one is subliminally but not consciously drawn. As abstract as that notion might seem, it really is the best way to metaphorise the nature of ‘Hatchet’s songwriting here, as rather than being coerced into picking out a standout chorus or melody, one simply becomes immersed in the twirling, kaleidoscopic jams and pops out of the other end with the head spinning.

But even though the five musicians that comprise Ruby the Hatchet are perfectly willing to take a backseat and let the songs chart their own course, their command of the music is never relinquished. The band has countenanced some meandering in the two longest tracks — “Symphony of the Night” and “Lightning Comes Again” — but whatever concerns do arise within their 14 minutes of collective span, tend to be promptly met by an elegant transition, change of tone or slick guitar solo from Scarps. The mood and flow of the album’s presentation thus becomes its purpose and although those clear highlight moments to which the mind so easily clings are at a premium, as a front-to-back listening experience, “Planetary Space Child” is a record which needs to land on every self-respecting heritage rock connoisseur’s shelf this year.


Download: Killer, Gemini, Lightning Comes Again
For the fans of: Blood Ceremony, Jex Thoth, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Witchcraft
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.08.2017
Tee Pee Records

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