on February 27, 2001
I love the banging on the drums, loud guitar chords, and screaming into the microphone. It's better than music, it's an awesome migraine. I believe that "Downward Is Heavenward" contains subliminal messages. After listening just a few times, I kept having the same thought: The power hungry ethnocentric and zenophobic European Caucasian race has oppressed minorities for the past millennium. "Downward Is Heavenward" is the greatest masterpiece ever pieced together by a master. All the songs rock, but some of the songs REALLY rock. They rock like a huge bolder rolling down the side of a mountain, then crashing into your head. Every awesome song is really GREAT. This album changed my life. Sure, I didn't have much of a life to begin with, but still, I love this album with all my heart and sole.
I must passionately disagree with all the negative comments. Open your ears. Buy "Downward Is Heavenward" . Wait a second - buy the CD first, then open your ears. You'll hear some awesome words and some GREAT music. I don't care if you're a Christian or a Republican, this music is for you. Your mom and dad might not like it, and some of the songs will chase the pets out of the house, but it's still fantastic. That's "Awesome" with a capital "A." If you can afford only one CD this year, I feel sorry for you, but get the BEST CD of the century. One day, the greatest hits from "Downward Is Heavenward" will be put on the "Greatest Hits" album - all of them. Awesome.
Everything that you've heard by way of the grapevine is true. Take the plug on your CD player, turn it UPSIDE-DOWN, then plug it back into the receptacle. That's the only way that you'll be able to hear the 3 "hidden" tracks. Be careful, the "messages" are really heavy. "Downward Is Heavenward" puts the "A" in "Awesone." If superlatives such as "awesome," "great," and "masterpiece" aren't convincing enough to make you want to buy "Downward Is Heavenward" , let me be more direct: We know where you live!
on June 26, 2000
A little space and time shows this slab to be the best example of a shortly-forgotten hybrid of indie-rock, 90's style. Heavy, thunderous guitars assault you, drums roll in wave-like, producing a drowning sonic slop over which rides one of the most nasally matter-of-fact voices in all of rock. Powerful songwriting and esoteric lyrics abound, this being the apex of this Midwest band's powers, despite the absence of an alterna-"hit".
My one complaint is that after the initial assault, the album seems to drag about two-thirds of the way through. By "The Inuit Promise", the intonation of the vocals begins to annoy rather than transcend, and it doesn't help matters that the vocals are mixed so closely it sounds like they're being whispered in your ear. Blecch. But it's a minor complaint, as you'll spend too much time trying to get your hands out of the "devil-horns" position they've been frozen in, and your mullet-haired, beer-swigging, Motorhead-cassette-playing friends will be duly impressed that you've found a band that can hang with anything mainstream hard rock can dish out. I heartily recommend this album, and hope the band can get its collective stuff together and dig even deeper into the well they've tapped into. A million geeks await.
on April 5, 2000
It gets off to strange, scratchy beginnings, when suddenly light melody kicks in, then the large, fuzzy guitars, and suddenly you realize it's another great Hum album. Not so new anymore.....Produced by virtuoso Mark Rubel at the happening Pogo Studios in Champaign, Il., "Downward is Heavenward" has moments of utter magic, beginning with the mid-tempo "Isle of the Cheetah," a graceful, guitar-swirled Hum classic. "Comin' Home" is just the opposite, maddening, sentimental, and to-the-point as Hum have never expressed themselves; listen to the thumping drums by Bryan St. Pere. Nothing tops the dreamy-crunch knockout of "Afternoon With the Axolotls," a lofty and elegant song best played on a cold, dark, rainy April afternoon; "Axolotl's" ending is reminiscent of "Iron Clad Lou" on "Electra 2000." Guitars on "Downward" go from grinding to dreamily swirling to an underbelly of haze and fog to create a background of pure and true rock and roll; sometimes the guitars craftily sneak into the songs, for a symphony that crashes and burns everywhere. It's a very fresh-sounding album with poignant lyrics and an artsy aura that permeates the close, tightly constructed rockers. Hum had their own secret to making music that no other band has quite figured out yet - this is one of the best records of the 90's. Please Hum, join together once again.
on December 26, 1999
Back in 97 when I found out that Hum was doing a new album I could not wait to be the first person I know to grap it up. Owning the other three albums, Fillet Show, Electra2000, and You'd Prefer an Astronaught, this one comes in a close, very close second. YPA is better in my mind, a must own. Actually all are a must own. This little known Champain Il. band is awesome. Along with the Album came a glorious concert. I cannot put it into words, just like Downward is Heavenward. "Afternoon With the Axolotls" is possibly the greatest song on DiH. Starting out nice and simple...then Bam, you are immerged in bliss of guitars and drums coated with Matt Talbott's vocals. And soon as you know what is happening, it is taken away back to the simple flawless sounds of the inro with Matt's and Tim Lash's guitars and Brian St. Pere's perfect drums and wonderious bassist Jeff Dimpsey . After hearing this song millions of times and seeing it done live, I still love it. Just like the entire album, I cannot say enough things to try to convince anyone to get it and the other albums. I think everyone should own a Hum album, and most everyone I know does. Buy it, you will not regret it.
on September 27, 1999
last december i bought astronaut and liked it alot. then i remembered hum released a new record so i got that.i wasnt sure if it would be good so i bought it on tape. let me just tell you after listening to it at least 1000 times i still love it.hum is a very different band than others that play this type of rock because they progress and put out good albums.you can tell they know what their doing because the music is very inteligent. its a very romantic record and at times sound heavenlike and very hypnotic. if thats your thing this album is for you.i can only say that the big guitars and very technical drums make this record a huge wall of sound. the wimpy but outsanding vocals make a really good contrast against the heavy distorted guitars.this is one of my favorite albums and i dont have many. the songs that i feel are best are isle of the cheetha-green to me- afternoon with the axolotls-the inuit promise and comin'home. but those are just my favorites but the whole album is great.its very good album oriented math rock.i really cant say enough great things about this record. if you only get one hum record forget youd perfer an astronaut and get this one you wont be disapointed
on July 21, 1999
I have a rather extensive collection of music (currently over 1300 cd's), and this album sits quite comfortably in my Top Ten. Whenever I play this album for anyone, I can only describe it as "Ear Candy". The astral-rock fuzz and the driving rythym are blended beautifully with the delicate lead vocals. The lyrics are definitely deep, and sometimes downright confusing in nature, but when the song is looked at it should be - as a whole piece of work - then the different parts seamlessly create one moving experience. The off-beat riffs of "Isle of Cheetah" and others only further serve to draw the listener in closer to investigate what the band is doing. Once that happens, you've already been played for a fool because you're now caught in that wonderful weave of music that Hum so uniquely creates. First track to last, this is an album you can slap into your player and know that for the next hour+ your ears will be immensely satisfied. The only problem is that some of these songs will stick with you for hours after listening to it...and if you find that to be the problem, then maybe the problem is you. I only wish we had more stars than 5 to give this truly magnificent accomplishment. Hum certainly lives up to it's name...
on December 11, 1998
I will never understand alternative radio. This album is fantastic, yet no station in L.A. even gave it a chance. This is an improvement on YPAA, which was also great. As always, you have to listen to it through a few times before finding the various textures that make each song unique. From the opening sound effects on Isle of Cheetah to the closing blasts of "The Scientists", this album is creative, intelligent, and, of course, very loud. There are a lot of great songs here, and my favorites are "If You are to Bloom", "Ms. Lazarus", "Green to Me", "Dreamboat", and "The Scientists". Well, I guess that's about half the album already. But I'll say this: the guitar work on "Ms. Lazarus" will leave you breathless, and the melodies on "If You are to Bloom" and "The Scientists" are soaring and uplifting. See if you don't find yourself humming "a dusty sleep you took too soon" in your head after a while. As in YPAA, Matt Talbott uses scientific and astronomical imagery to punctuate his songs, which I find really unique and fascinating. The one downside is that most of the songs seem to wander somewhere in the middle where they lose their momentum. But get this album anyways, because hard rock and intelligent lyrics come in the same package about as often as brains and beauty, which is to say almost never.
on March 11, 2004
This album is so addictive, it kept me up at night for a few weeks after getting it. Lyrics about medicine men and satellites... numbers, and the System fading away... and brilliant guitar work. I just hope people can get through the first two songs, as they are merely ordinary in the face of the rest of it. Mind you, they become good songs once you come to appreciate the amazing thing that is Hum, but to the untrained ear I think the first two songs might sound like just run-of-the-mill 90s alt-guitar-rock. I recommend skipping to track 3 (If You Are to Bloom) the first few listens. That's a minor issue, though. I bought this masterpiece purely on the amazon reviews, and yes, it lives up to all the amazing praise seen here. I just had to confirm it yet again in case any are still in doubt. If you're into music that probably no one else you know will have, then this is what you want - it is the epitome of the obscure Magnum Opus.
on April 12, 2001
It seems to me that longtime fans of HUM, either pleased or disappointed with this album have written the majority of these reviews. I've never listened to any of HUM's other albums, and I only checked this one out because I read a review that compared them to the band Brandtson (which has turned out to be a terrible comparison). That aside, this is a decent CD. I enjoyed the powerful guitar playing and the drumming manages to get my attention from time to time. There is a bit of an over use of distortion and noise. I would have preferred it if the guitar playing were a bit cleaner at times. Some of the songs tend to drag a little and the vocalist has a rather generic, impassive voice. In fact, a lot of the singing is downright boring. It kills the enthusiasm inherent in the rest of the music. I can see myself liking it a bit more after a few more listens but ultimately getting bored with it.
on May 30, 1999
HUM is my favorite band in the world, and "you'd prefer an astronaut" is the most incredible album, so i had really high hopes for this one. don't get me wrong, HUM is still working your eardrums with the surreal space rock that they are so good at, but it's hard to have a follow-up to the best album ever (in my humble opinion). YPAA will still rule my stereo, but DIH is essential if you are a HUM fan. "ms. lazarus" is one of the most sincerely beautiful and tear-inducing songs that wasn't meant to be. it's the song that also sounds the most like it should be on the last album. "if yo uare to bloom" is also lazily romantic. matt talbot (lead singer) definitely exercises his vocal cords more. "dreamboat" reminds me of track 7 on YPAA. all in all, an EXCELLENT, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ALBUM but barely missing the high mark set by YPAA.