There was a time when rock was king and metal was but a fleeting glint in the eyes of a certain brand of musician ballsy enough to challenge the parameters of what rock music was and could be. When the proverbial rain fell, lightening cracked, and Tony Iommi set in motion 45 years of metal history with a handful of carefully selected notes on that first Black Sabbath album, a monster of epic proportions was birthed onto the music scene, kicking and screaming and pissing all over the place. For the decade that followed that unholy birthing, rock and metal were still linked like a child forced to stay in its parent’s company until the law says it can legally flee and never return. Even once the 80’s rolled around and metal was on the run, there was still that thread of rock that tied the genre back to its now aging ancestor. Somewhere in that metal lineage Philadelphia’s Ruby The Hatchet found a wormhole to escape through, bypassing about 30 years of influence both good and bad to deliver a throwback of epic proportions.
If the stoner rock movement of the 90’s and today’s occult rock/doom outbursts are the bastard, incestuous children of metal and their rock parent then Ruby The Hatchet are their even more illegitimate older sibling. Valley of the Snake may not be the nastiest or heaviest album you’ll set ears upon this year but it’s certainly one of the catchiest records around and you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better record this year to daydream to about fantastical acid trips, loose morals, and bell bottoms. If today’s major rock radio outlets had any cajones at all Ruby The Hatchet would be the next rock darlings of a generation that has forgotten what good rock music actually sounds like. Then again, if ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candies and nuts we’d all have a wonderful Christmas. One man’s loss is another man’s treasure and so instead of Valley of the Snake being picked up by rock fan newbs the Musical Gods have graciously passed it down, just like Ruby The Hatchet’s stoner rock siblings, to the metal hordes to gobble up like a fat kid at a free buffet. Put that bib on kid because it’s about to get tasty, greasy and a little dangerous in here.
The first thing you’ll notice about this album are the riffs. Oh, those glorious riffs that just melt into your brain like hot butter on bread, seeping into every crevice. Take the opening riff running through album opener, “Heavy Blanket” or the absolutely godly ones laying waste to the world on the track “Demons” for example. Guitarist Johnny Scarps has clearly studied at the altar of Sabbath, Deep Purple, Blue Cheer, Kyuss, Nebula, and every other act that let their riffs do the talking. But man or band can not exist on riff alone and Ruby The Hatchet has plenty else to showcase on this release. Vocalist Jillian Taylor is a vocal goddess, passing down her tales from on high with a voice that simply haunts and enchants all at the same time. Look no further than the monumental 7+ minute, self-titled, album closer to find examples of how these four lads and one lass weave together a tapestry of true proto-metal excellence. A bass line that carries the whole tune, pummeling keys and drums that deftly play off each other, and even the addition of flute during the tracks final explosion of sound.
Fans of metal’s first decade and the genre’s deepest, darkest, dirtiest history will find an amazing amount of things to love in just six tracks. This whole album is a sonic orgasm for any metal fan looking for a little rock release. Valley of the Snake hits the streets on February 24 via Tee Pee Records. You can get prepped for this album by checking out tracks from their previous release over at the Ruby The Hatchet Bandcamp page.