Ruby The Hatchet - Planetary Space Child - (8/10)
Published on September 12, 2017
Ruby the Hatchet are a psychedelic rock band out of Philadelphia and one of the best of the 70s retro craze of the last five or so years. Their sound relies on heavy, acid infused riffs backed by 70s organ and great female vocals. Imagine a more straight ahead psychedelic rock version of Blood Ceremony and you will have a good idea of what Ruby the Hatchet sounds like. Planetary Space Child is the band’s fourth full-length album and a strong follow-up to 2015’s Valley of the Snake.
The guitar tone has that 70s psychedelia feel to it with jamming melodies and solos but still retains a measure of modern era heaviness for greater impact. The riffs on this record are pretty damn good too. This thing is full of infectious riffs and melodies like the main riff in “Killer,” which is incredibly hummable. The opening riff in “Symphony of the Night” is classic heavy psychedelia and it is made even better by the slightly spooky organ. Over the course of the song, the riff gets slightly heavier and doomier, peaking around the 3:30 mark, and the organ gets better and spookier, greatly increasing the song’s impact. This album does not contain riffs in great numbers but Ruby the Hatchet makes the riffs it does contain really count with their kickass, driving psych rock sound.
Most of Owen’s drumming is straight ahead, driving beats and fills that keep the music moving at a solid pace but occasionally, he gets an opportunity to be creative. When that happens, he takes full advantage and creates some really cool and intensely creative beats. His creativity shines most on “Pagan Ritual” (which also has the best riffs on the album), where he gets a solo that includes bongos and a series of fantastic fills and alternating beats that kicks the song into high gear and eventually brings the song to an awesome close. He slows down the pace a touch for “The Fool” but maintains the same intensity, making the listener really feel his presence in the mix.
Jillian’s vocals are great too. Her voice is not as powerful or punchy as some of her peers but it has an ethereal quality to it that is incredibly valuable in this style of music. Plus, Jillian has enough power to still be a driving force behind the sound of Ruby the Hatchet. Her lyrics are pretty solid too although they have little to do with planets or space, with the obvious exception of the title track. They seem to be about darker, more tangible themes like paganism, tarot cards, and astrology. Even though she is more in the background on “Gemini,” she harmonizes really well with the male vocals to help create an old school jam band vibe for the song.
You can tell Planetary Space Child was produced with a jam band vibe in mind as every instrument sticks out individually but together, they create a sound that just kicks all the way around. There is enough creativity to keep you hooked without overdoing it, which is a great lesson for modern bands. Ruby the Hatchet has a killer sound and this album showcases it very well so while this is not album of the year caliber, it does everything right and is well worth a few spins.