Ruby The Hatchet made their first inroads into a recording career with the self-released ‘Ouroboros’ in 2012. Aside from the occasional one line hook, the DIY recording captured the raw talents of a brilliant stoner rock/deep psych band. With riffs heavily indebted to Kyuss’ majorly influential bottom end noise and Black Sabbath’s doomy origins, the band immediately had a strong musical root, but in vocalist Jillian Taylor it was clear they had something very special. Taylor’s clear and strong delivery always gave the music a melodic edge that other doomy bands didn’t always have. Even at such an early stage, her clean, crying style often lent the material a brilliantly haunting feel that would be hard to beat.
Home to Summoner, Ironweed, Zakk Sabbath and various other great stoner/doom bands, the Magnetic Eye label celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2019. Ten years of bringing the heavy to the masses is, indeed, worth shouting about, and what better way to mark the occasion than showcasing various Magnetic Eye bands at a mammoth gig?
Very much a “family celebration”, the Day of Doom festival featured nine different Magnetic Eye acts on one bill at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus Bar, a venue barely big enough to contain such enormous riffs. Four of the sets were recorded for posterity, and while all have their moments – especially the Horsehunter set with its extended sludge metal jams and unapologetically live sound – the performance by the UK’s Elephant Tree is the best in terms of all round enjoyment and accessibility.
In September 2020, Zakk Sabbath released their long-awaited ‘Vertigo’ album, on which legendary guitarist Zakk Wylde and friends recreated the Black Sabbath debut as faithfully as possible. Everything was well played, but with the band taking such a traditional stance, there were moments where you’d wonder why you’d ever choose to listen to it over the original recording. There were a couple of tracks of great interest, however, such as ‘Wicked World’ where the band loosened their grip on self-imposed authenticity and added more of their own flair and ‘N.I.B.’ which proved that Zakk Wylde plus and indestructible riff will often result in something great. The album was well received by fans, and despite any misgivings about long-term interest, it was important that the band got a studio recording under their collective belt after working the live circuit for so many years.
Black Sabbath’s debut LP turned 50 years old in February 2020. The band did not release an expensive box set to mark the occasion (they left that for the October anniversary of ‘Paranoid’, where the 5LP reissue was prohibitively expensive and the CD box set was just a quick repackaging of the 40th anniversary edition). There wasn’t even a notable vinyl reissue of the seminal debut recording – but to be fair, as welcomed as that would have been, no vinyl pressings sound anywhere near as good as the original Vertigo spiral label edition. Instead, fans and press were invited in limited numbers to go to a pre-arranged location in London and listen to the album in pitch darkness.