Hell Below Stars Above
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Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
|1. Plane Crash|
|2. Push The Hand|
|3. Little Sin|
|6. You'll Come Down|
|7. Pressed Against The Sky|
|8. What We Have We Steal|
|9. Jigsaw Girl|
|11. Hell Below/Stars Above|
In the beginning--well, in the early '90s, anyway--there was grunge. The sound from Northwest bands like Mudhoney and Nirvana sliced razor-sharp punk into thick slabs of Black Sabbath-influenced metal to forever fray the mainstream public's image of straight-ahead rock & roll. As the '90s creeped on, rockers like Stone Temple Pilots and Bush were taking the fringes of the Seattle sound and smoothing them into modern radio rock. In 1994, the Texas band the Toadies stepped up to the post-grunge plate with the major-label release of Rubberneck. The album went platinum and the single "Possum Kingdom" hit the alternative and hard-rock radio circuit pretty hard. The critics scratched their heads, though, claiming the band was just a bland reworking of the classic Nirvana sound.
Seven years later, the band released their Rubberneck follow-up, Hell Below/Stars Above, and critics are still scratching their heads. The album offers highly charged, raw-throated vocals and a wall of aggressive rock built on solid bricks of distortion ("Sweetness," "Plane Crash," "Push the Hand," "Heel"), but it still lacks the intricacy and hooks of, say, a Foo Fighters album. Sure, there are some slower songs ("Pressed Against the Sky") that give front man Todd Lewis a break from the testosterone rants, but overall Hell Below feels like one long song of Warped Tour-era rock that too easily blends into itself. --Jennifer Maerz
Top Customer Reviews
"Plane Crash," the album's opener starts with a bang, an abusive punk rock riff coupled with a holler/scream reminiscent of Judas Priest's Rob Halford moonlighting as an alt-rocker. Intensity remains at just under too much, continuing with the Toadies signature sound through the next few tracks until the mid-tempo "You'll Come Down." Good, solid, rock that presents listeners with accessible yet intelligent melodies and lyrics.
Next up, we really see the Toads begin to shine: "Pressed Against the Sky" is one of the best songs that this reviewer has ever wrapped his mind around. A soft, building, not quite melancholy, not quite tender piece that reminds of "Tyler" from Rubberneck. This song really showcases the band's range from quiet, bluesy, almost Hawaiian guitar to ragy ballad. The album's closer features the Toad's rage-ballad as an encore: "Dollskin."
The title track took this reviewer some getting used to, given its 'in your face' beginning, mid tune mode shift, and gospel choir backup vocals. However, after a few spins, it won me over in the end.
The Toadies do what they do best on this album: Rock. There's a gentler texture at work here too though, not really seen on their previous efforts. This twelve song journey is not very long in real world time, so the high intensity won't tire out the listener before the end. Adding that the album closes on a melodic and almost sweet note, it'll have people reaching for the 'play' button on thei CD players to start the album over again.
Finding this CD in 2001 was like finding a 20 dollar bill in a pile of vomit. I love this CD, it is amazing.
It starts off with the power you know the Toadies are masters of injecting into your eardrums (Plane Crash. From there it only gets better. "Push the Hand" and "Heel" are genius in their simplicity. The point of this album, in my opinion, comes from tracks 5 through 8. "Little Sin", based on a bluesy riff, is a masterpiece of simplicity and power. The quirky "You'll Come Down" is one of my favorites. "Jigsaw girl" is a love song that only Todd Lewis could write and deliver. "What We Have We Steal" is....just.....beyond words. The album stays strong toward the end also, delivering a mixture of styles and techniques that leaving me angry that the Toadies didn't see fit to make this a double CD.
Better than Rubberneck? Without a doubt.
Why? Better songwriting, better songs. I love Rubberneck, but I can find weak points in that CD, I cannot in this one.
The Toadies were an amazing band, anyone unfortunate enough not to have discovered them and this CD should stop listening to music because they're obviously listening to the wrong stuff.
In any case, if you liked Rubberneck and you haven't bought this yet or you have this and don't like it as much as the first CD, just give it some time to grow on you. The same could be said for all CDs. Yeah!
This is where the Toadies came in. Their sound was modern yet vintage... aggressive yet passionate. Nobody can scream-sing like Todd Lewis. The tonality of his voice fit right into the groove his guitar paved in the musical landscape... it was rough and ready to rumble but he NEVER turned hardcore on us. Clark, the other guitarist, had a gift of making bizarre lead harmonizations that weren't what you'd expect, but work none the less (in an odd almost Primus sort of way). They both were talented in their roles. Lisa, the bassist, was a ball of fire. She rocked up on stage, wagging back and forth, and never let the beat drop for a second. She wasn't out in front, spitting on the audience, but she definately was the centerpiece of the band. Mark's drumming was incredible. His beats exuded the punk energy we've come to enjoy from modern music, but he's got a style of his own. They were rock... pure, unadulterated rock. Amen.
From the first slam of Plane Crash, you know this album is ready to tear you to shreds. The groove of The Toadies is undeniable. Each song on HB/SA moves forward with intensity and overflows with energy.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
this is one of the best albums ever, i started listening to it a month ago and i dont plan to take it out of my cd player any time soon. Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2004
This is one of the best albums of 2001, and it's too bad that Amazon's critic probably only gave it a quick once-through before she reviewed it. Read morePublished on Oct. 29 2003 by Elliot Patton
...give the Toadies credit for the sound they produced. They take away the whiny vocals and repetitive three-chord ensembles that most punk brings to the table and keeps the... Read morePublished on May 31 2003
There are a lot of bands who cover dark, depressing topics with their music. No more do bands like Joy Division and the Cure corner the market on sadness. Read morePublished on Jan. 20 2003 by C. L. Swearingen
...the baddest of the bad, the coolest of the cool. Very good. It is of their best work.Published on Dec 24 2002
I'm not sure I've ever heard an album as solid as Rubberneck. It seems as though the band put a lot of effort into making the songs on Hell Below/Stars Above catchy. Read morePublished on May 30 2002 by C. Stone
I loved their album "Rubberneck". I saw them in concert in the late 1990's and they were awesome. Read morePublished on May 3 2002 by Claire
I was in college in San Jose, CA when "Rubberneck" came out. It was awesome that bands where still putting heavy pop/rock music even after Nirvana, plus these guys weren't from the... Read morePublished on April 8 2002 by Kurt Ruff
It's a shame that the Toadies broke up in late 2001 a few months after the release of Hell Below/Stars Above. Read morePublished on March 26 2002 by MegaDC