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Album Review: Ruby the Hatchet – Planetary Space Child

Ruby the Hatchet is another group often lumped into the doom by way of 70s rock movement. However, Planetary Space Child doesn’t quite fit in with the theatrical singalong groups nor the hustling proto-metal variants. Instead, the album is closer to Uriah Heep with bits of classic Deep Purple and The Doors thrown in for good measure. Keyboards and vocal layering are prominent though more subtle than bombastic, sitting on more or less equal footing as the guitars. It feels subdued compared to their past efforts but its punch hits hard once it connects.

That said, Planetary Space Child does live up to its astronomical name. The production job is somehow even spacier than the band’s previous albums, resulting in perpetually hazy guitars and a distant rhythm section. This approach does run the risk of buried vocals and an overall loss of personality, but the band avoids a generic fate thanks to the balanced instrumentation and a standout vocal performance. This is a very straightforward album but it’s certainly not one dimensional.

With that, the seven songs on here are well written and mostly consist of more tripped out numbers contrasted by a couple strong classic rockers. “Killer” is the strongest track of the lot thanks to a mid-tempo swagger that brings to mind Sad Wings-era Judas Priest, while “Gemini” serves up a fun upbeat tempo. In addition, the title track starts things off with a heavy eastern flair while “Symphony of the Night” provides a gentle slow burn before charging into fuzzed out territory.

Valley of the Snake may edge this out as the go-to Ruby the Hatchet recommendation but Planetary Space Child is still a strong example of why the Philadelphia group is worth your time. This album shows the band in deeper touch with their most primal influences and should also appeal to fans of the classics. Some may deem the retro rock movement as oversaturated and played out but it’s hard to complain when bands of this caliber continue to develop and find ways to stay enjoyable.

Highlights:
“Planetary Space Child”
“Killer”
“Symphony of the Night”
“Gemini”

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