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Hell Below Stars Above


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 20 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Group
  • ASIN: B00005ABL2
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #107,931 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Plane Crash
2. Push The Hand
3. Little Sin
4. Motivational
5. Heel
6. You'll Come Down
7. Pressed Against The Sky
8. What We Have We Steal
9. Jigsaw Girl
10. Sweetness
11. Hell Below/Stars Above
12. Dollskin

Product Description

Product Description

Amazon.ca

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

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Audio CD
The Texas Tadpoles have really matured for this record, from their prior releases: Pleather and Rubberneck. Is that to say that their previous efforts were juvenile? No Way! Also, does this mean that the Toadies have slowed their raucousness? Definitely not!
"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.
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Format: Audio CD
As I've said in many other reviews, 2001 was just plain [bad] for music. We were knee high in Britney Spears, NSync, Jay-Z, and other mind-numbingly repetitive acts.
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.
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Format: Audio CD
I have to admit that at first I didn't like this CD, I felt let down. I think "Rubberneck" is one of the best straightforward rock CDs I own and certainly that I've heard; it would get an easy five stars on this rating system. And of course with a seven year gap between records, expectations are going to build, I would say in this case to an unfair level. So, at first, I didn't like it. But a few months after buying it I started to listen to it more, at first just the second half, and then gradually the whole thing. Now, aside from "Plane Crash" (which is just OK) and "Heel" (which I used to love, and now find somewhat boring), I think the rest of the CD is excellent, excellent excellent. Good rock music. Wish I could've seen them live before they broke up; they came through town twice on the last tour but I never had any money or school was the next day or what have you. But, at least the music lives on. Hehe. That sounds corny but it's true.
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!
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Format: Audio CD
...These are my words on the band: These days, rock comes with a bit of a stigma. It's a stigma that's not particularly deserving. Bands like Limp Bizkit, Korn, Slipknot and Linkin Park have paved the way for countless imitators trying to fit rock music into a different groove. Some bands add hip hop grooves, turntables, rapping... others tune their guitars way down and turn way up. There's nothing inherantly wrong with that... but it seems ever since the grunge scene left, nobody on the radio has been playing good old fashioned straight ahead rock, aside from a couple standouts here and there. Where has the passion gone? Must rock be lost on pop culture? NO!
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.
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