Ruby The Hatchet - Valley Of The Snake - (7.5/10)
Published on February 27, 2015
Billed as “psychedelic doombringers”, Philadelphia’s Ruby The Hatchet come from a long line of retro-minded riff-aficionados. With their debut Valley Of The Snake, they promise fuzz-heavy tunes, creepy atmospherics, and the alluring pipes of leading lady Jillian Taylor. Adorned with a frankly stunning cover painting, signs point to there being gold in them there hills.
The world of Ruby The Hatchet is immediately warm and welcoming, with the familiar grooves of “Heavy Blanket”. Right off the bat it’s clear that we’re not likely to see much new ground here, and the similarities to Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats’ Blood Lust are blatant. In the tellingly titled “Vast Acid”, Taylor repeats the phrase “I’ll cut you down”, cementing this as a love letter to the acidulous Uncle and similar bands. Emulating other groups is usually not enough though, and besides Taylor’s passionate voice, Ruby are somewhat lacking in the originality-department. Bits and pieces of Blood Ceremony, Jex Thoth, and Danava creep through with every Sabbathian riff and psychedelic synth.
In spite of the somewhat imitative feel, the aforementioned “Vast Acid” is admittedly very catchy, and does a good job of sucking the listener in. There’s a confident air about the bluesy riffs, the solos feel spirited, and the chorus effectively crawls under your skin. The slower numbers, including “Tomorrow Never Comes” and “The Unholy Behemoth”, are occasionally sluggish without being particularly interesting, relying mostly on Taylor’s voice. She is undoubtedly a talented vocalist, and the polished sound and riffs are solid old school worship. As a fan of Uncle Acid and other aforementioned bands, this is not inherently bad, and there are many sparks of greatness throughout Valley Of The Snake. Take the penultimate track “Demons”, for example, which is more of a hard rock number, injecting some welcome energy and stellar harmonies into the proceedings.
If you are a fan of the occult doom revival, then Ruby The Hatchet will probably be right up your alley. Valley Of The Snake is impressively well put together for a debut album, and even though there is little new under the sun, Taylor’s bewitching voice gives the band an edge on their competition. This is one of those albums that probably won’t rock your world, but will bewitch you into humming along.