RUBY THE HATCHET – Fear Is A Cruel Master

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.

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VOLT RITUAL – Volt Ritual

When it comes to mining classic influences, Polish stoner rockers Volt Ritual dig deeply on their debut release. Their self titled disc from 2022 takes the mighty Black Sabbath as its root inspiration and takes a very 70s approach to a heavy riff, but the material could just as easily have been recorded in the 90s at a time when Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Roadsaw were at their height. Its seven numbers are crammed with heavy riffs and fuzzy grooves; the production values call back to Rodger Bain’s early no-frills approach, and the band’s overall sound is one that a vast proportion of stoner and doom fans will take to in a heartbeat.

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BAR II – How I Fake It EP

Following on from their ‘Let You Down’ single in 2021, Belgian rock band Bar II’s ‘How I Fake It’ EP features a couple of their best recordings to date. Its two tracks are centred around some fairly chunky riffs, but despite being promoted as a “stoner duo”, the best moments branch off into an even spikier sound, often showcasing the musicians in a more inventive way.

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SAIL – Emotional Motion Ocean EP

British sludge/doom/alternative outfit Sail aren’t the most prolific band, but they’re one of those acts that seem to offer something of genuine interest whenever new music arrives. In August 2021, their two track single ‘Flood’ showcased their knack for massive riffs, but also showed how they could make an almost unmovable sound seem more atmospheric than some of their peers. An accompanying remix actually gave the material a further lift when demonstrating how the original recording had an almost mechanical, semi-industrial feel beneath the riff, and further suggested that Sail’s best material presented far more than a heavy vibe.

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