Fuzzed up 70s-inspired haze…
Review by Paul Castles
Release date: 23 February 2015
Ruby The Hatchet are a female-fronted doom act from across the pond although the singer’s name is not Ruby it’s Jillian – with a ‘J’ not a ‘G’. So now we’ve got our tarot cards on the table we can explore a little more deeply this superb six-track release. Doom acts with female singers are quite the thing these days thanks to such luminaries as Windhand, Jex Thoth, our very own Midlands maestros Alunah, The Wounded Kings (before Sheree departed that is!) and Blood Ceremony.
The first observation worth recording with Ruby The Hatchet is that they not as bathed in gloom as some of those acts. It’s not so much a cloak of darkness wrapped around Ruby’s shoulders as a technicoloured dreamcoat. Valley of the Snake bobs and bounces with six enticing numbers that wrap themselves warmly around you like a friendly anaconda, if indeed such a creature exists. Essentially, Ruby The Hatchet sound like they’re having far too much fun to be filed under the traditional doom label.
‘Heavy Blanket’ sparks things into life with Jillian crying “Ooh, wake me up,” against an infectious rhythm that just demands your neck muscles crank along in parallel. The opener eventually ends up with the distortion levels rising but through the merry mayhem Jillian’s tone remains assured and confident. Their sound is a fuzzed up 70s-inspired haze and with one of the songs called ‘Vast Acid’ it’s clear their inspiration lies with the likes of Pentagram, Deep Purple and Sabbath.
Longest track at just over eight minutes, is ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ which begins with a grinding deep bassline. It’s not quite in the territory of Conan but it’s repetition is spellbinding with Jillian’s sultry tones adding as the perfect cushion. Although Ruby The Hatchet’s music is warmer than a piping hot bedtime drink on a frosty evening, lyrically it draws from the darker side of human nature, as tracks such as ‘The Unholy Behemoth’ and ‘Demons’ would suggest.
‘Demons’ is actually one of the more energetic numbers, it’s opening riff almost Metallica-like in its energy and enthusiasm. Jillian also gets through a lot of ghostly ‘Oooooooooohhss’ on this number which absolutely throbs along with vibrancy and verve.
Jillian possesses a silky soft voice but one that reaches out and deserves to be heard. It’s at its most mesmerizingly mellow on the closing title track ‘Valley of the Snake’ which caresses the ear against a gentle wave of strummed strings and pipe whistles before gradually being swallowed up whole by a melancholic mish mash of hallucinogenic waves. Wonderful stuff!
8 out of 10
- Heavy Blanket
- Vast Acid
- Tomorrow Never Comes
- The Unholy Behemoth
- Valley of the Snake