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Hell Below Stars Above

4.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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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 45 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #100,780 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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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


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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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Back sometime in '94, the Toadies released their major-label debut in Rubberneck. Their most popular single continues to get heavy rotation on radio stations nation-wide (Possum Kingdom)... unfortunately, even most people who have heard that song have no idea what band sings it.
HB/SA will hopefully change this for the better. Like Rubberneck before it, it will take a few listens to get used to this album. Soon after, it will have you hooked. Todd's lyrics have matured, and the new Toadies lead guitarist, Clark, churns riffs and burns out solos unheard of in Rubberneck. I am a guitarist of about 5 or 6 years, and this album presents many challenges to me, even after many listens and attempts at transcribing the tunes.
Radio friendly tunes such as "What We Have We Steal" and "You'll Come Down" will reel you in, while "Push the Hand" and "Sweetness" have that raw Toadies angst that can only be fully appreciated at one of their live shows. Old Toadies fans will be happy that this is basically the same band, but the music is much more well-rounded than their debut.
If I could give this album a 10 I would. Don't pay attention to any reviews from people who just bought the album. Listen to the ones who have heard it quite a few times already. I'm sure they will agree, this is going to be one of the surprise hits of 2001.
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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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By A Customer on Jan. 28 2003
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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