Ruby the Hatchet want you to have a good time when you listen to their music. Their psychedelia-infused classic metal/rock on Planetary Space Child is filled with that same kind of excitement and energy as bands like Deep Purple or Thin Lizzy could conjure at their best. The atmosphere is hazy and other-worldly, simultaneously retro in feel and looking to the future. Whilst bands pulling from these sounds and tropes are legion, and most succeed in little more than reminding you of how great the originals were, with Planetary Space Child Ruby the Hatchet have created something distinctive and bold with their own personality, but more than that, it’s a lot of fun to listen to.
A lot of that personality stems from vocalist Jillian Taylor. Her voice is powerful, possessed of deep charisma and a flair for the dramatic when it’s called for. Her performance is a highlight throughout, and one of the most immediate aspects of Ruby the Hatchet. Yet after a few listens, it becomes clear that the rest of the band have much to offer too. Sure, there may be obvious points that are clear on first listen – such as Sean Hur’s classic rock organs adding a whole extra dimension to second track ‘Killer’, or Lake Muir’s strong bass tone that doesn’t just anchor the songs, but often offers tracks such as ‘Pagan Ritual’ an extra line of melody – but repeat listens reveal the subtle talents of Owen Stewart’s drumming. As would be expected from a record steeped in classic rock and heavy metal, the guitars are a frequent highlight – most notably on the driving ‘Killer’ with its aggressive riffs and leads – but what’s equally impressive is that guitarist Johnny Scarps knows when to ease back and adopt a more subdued role, as on the brooding ‘Symphony Of The Night’ or spacious, dreamy closing track ‘Lightning Comes Again’. Taken together, it also demonstrates the song-writing talents of the band; a lot of thought has evidently gone in to Planetary Space Child.
What’s hugely impressive about Planetary Space Child, though, is that at no point during my many, many listens to it have I felt the urge to go back to the band’s inspirations and listen to the classics. Most modern albums of this style exist within the shadows of what have come before, and quite often, it can be difficult to listen to them without thinking “OK, this is fine, but god-damn it makes me want to go and listen to some Priest or Lizzy or Sabbath.” That’s never the case with this album. The otherworldly journey of the opening title track; the confident swagger of ‘Killer’; the haunting ‘The Fool’; and ‘Gemini’, which would have been absolutely, stadium-filling huge if it was released in the early 70’s – each and every song on the album is obviously indebted to those greats who came before, but at no point do they lapse in to hero-worship or sound like anyone other than Ruby the Hatchet. That Planetary Space Child does all of this whilst sounding like a hell of a good time makes the album a highlight of the year, and one that’s sure to get a lot of play over the coming months.