RUBY THE HATCHET — Planetary Space Child (review)

RUBY THE HATCHET — Planetary Space Child album cover Album · 2017 · Heavy Psych Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Usually counted as a stoner rock and/or metal act, US rockers Ruby the Hatchet have clearly set out upon a different, entirely more psychedelic path with their third full-length album Planetary Space Child (2017). While I quite liked the group's first two full-lengths, Ouroboros (2012) and Valley of the Snake (2015), they did little to prepare me for this third album. This one, I literally feel blown away by. I've been launched up into the cosmos, straight into the atmosphere the music creates. Now it won't let me go, even if I wanted it to. Which I don't. Let me tell you why.

The music on Planetary Space Child is still definable as stoner like Ruby the Hatchet's first two albums, but it's better described as a heavy psych album. This blending of two closely related styles isn't an uncommon thing and in fact Planetary Space Child is actually the third such album that fits into this niche that I've listened to from 2017, after Elder's Reflections of a Floating World and Spaceslug's Time Travel Dilemma. While all three of these albums have their own sounds the thing that all three have in common is their creation of atmospheric psychedelic music. Where Elder and Spaceslug's albums could be said to sit at opposite ends of this little spectrum, the latter being the most metal of them, then Ruby the Hatchet's Planetary Space Child is the album that finds the balance between them. This is first and foremost a rock album, but one that isn't restrained in getting its metal on when the music requires a little extra oomph, with both stoner and doom metal touches in evidence.

A balance of rock and metal elements is nice, but it's not what makes Planetary Space Child such a good album. I often find that atmospheric albums, meaning anything from heavy psych/stoner rock albums like this to atmospheric black metal, often aim to take their listener on a journey and as such are all about the big picture. A common occurrence with such albums is that while many succeed at creating something enjoyable the individual songs suffer from anonymity. This is not the case with Ruby the Hatchet's Planetary Space Child, which succeeds in equal measure having that absorbing quality of an atmospheric album and the creation of individual memorable tracks that rock hard, with vocalist Jillian Taylor displaying a voice that melds in with the atmospheric sounds while also delivering lyrical hooks that stick with you long after the album has ended. The songs stand out as just that: songs. Not chapter selection points in a much longer work.

Aside from some great vocals, the instruments themselves produce many instances of memorability throughout too. A common feature is Sean Hur's organ providing the psychedelic contrast behind the hard rock, sometimes metal, guitar of Johnny Scarps, working equally well in the album's softer sections, of which there are quite a few which serve towards building the atmosphere up. I even feel inclined to mention the drumming, played by Owen Stewart, especially in regard to the third track Pagan Ritual. I'm not someone who normally pays much attention to drums. They're the kind of necessity of a rock/metal band that I would miss if they were not there but take for granted otherwise. In this track though, they really are impossible to ignore, especially in its later stages, bringing beats that really live up to the track's name. And it's trippy as hell.

And that's just scratching the surface as to why I'm so blown away by Planetary Space Child. Another reason is that it proves such a compelling album that giving it many repeat spins is easy, with no risk of boredom or over-familiarity setting in. I myself have listened to it no less than nine times just putting this review together, and expect there'll be many more to come long after this is posted. Ruby the Hatchet have an album here that has that seemingly rare combination of a great atmosphere and memorable songs. For my money I'd say others will struggle to produce a better hard rock album in 2017 than this one.
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Nightfly wrote:
1 year ago
Need to check this one out.
666sharon666 wrote:
1 year ago
Great album and great review. I definitely need to pick up a copy of this one.
1 year ago
I've listened to Valley of the Snake and quite liked it. Got to give this one a listen soon.

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