Fire Down Below “Viper, Vixen, Goddess, Saint” Re-Issue Album Review & Stream…

FIRE DOWN BELOW 

Viper, Vixen, Goddess, Saint – Vinyl // CD // DD

Ripple Music – Release Date:  June 23rd, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Location – Ghent, Belgium

Band Members – Sam Nuytens drums // Jeroen Van Troyenrhythm guitar and vocals // Kevin Gernaey – lead guitar // Bert Wynsberghe – bass guitar

When asked to describe themselves, FIRE DOWN BELOW says, quote “We are amp-hugging, hard-hitting, fuzz-loving, ear-splitting, riff-worshiping rock ‘n rollers.” En-quote.  And they aren’t kidding!!  This album being the first offering from this four-piece, they present 39 minutes of pure stoner/doom/psych/unadulterated rock-n-fucking-roll wrapped into seven tracks that will melt your brain like the smoke of an opium-den.  You are instantly consumed with all of the bass rumbling, drum skin splitting, power chord ripping slathered in lead crescendos that shake your core in the essence of what HEAVY music is defined as, and then taking you further down that road  than you have ever been before.

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Listing their influences from TOOL to ELDER, as well as from THE BEATLES to DEFTONES, there is little doubt as to the intent here. Instrumental opener ‘El Viento Del Desierto’, translated as ‘The Wind Of The Desert’, sets the tone as you settle in for this trip and you are greeted with the sounds of including crickets and the ‘cracking’ of a beverage as a loopy acoustic slide guitar permeates the air around you until ‘Through Dust And Smoke’ hits you in the chest with both barrels from a muted chord progression to full-on power chords rip it up with the body as plush and that vocal steps tall letting you know his stand stating “I don’t want to hear the news, shut your mouth before you speak.” and with a rolling snare, the real ride has begun because “The less you know, the less you feel.” Thick bass pulsing flowing in absolute symmetry with the thundering time-sigs and the spell has been cast as you grab onto each echo of “Shut up” at the end until ‘Roadburner’ cracks the sky with an almost tribal tempo until the harmonic dissonance takes control again with this faster paced romp that is indeed a perfect road-trip track that would probably induce a need to get it hammer-down with this tempo, album title right in the verse of, around the middle. The last half of this opus is a guitar lover’s wet dream filled with all the meandering you could want amidst time shifts galore.

Gears shift dramatically as ‘Universe Crumble’ comes on with a haunting single note that warbles slightly until 25 seconds in when an ultra-fuzzed up/phased out bass line joins in with an air of calm as the hand-drum presence and a ringing guitar tone take hold with an almost GODSMACK feel until the two minute mark when the body shifts.  Rising out of the mist that had been lingering at your feet and the cadence is one that forces you to move in time, matching the tempo as your heart races to keep pace.  When the ethereal sounding vocal finally enters at the four minute mark, the dream-like feel takes a turn to the heavy with a bombastic resonance not expected but perfectly suiting this opus, carrying you along until the softness fades back in with all the glory so befitting this song.

‘Resurreccion’ is another instrumental that is absolution perfection in it’s passion-filled purity and flows as smooth as glass right into closing tome ‘The Mammoth’ that is as majestic as the whole of this record and clocks in over 11 minutes itself and is the embodiment of the sum of the rest of this album, letting each member showcase themselves while fitting in seamlessly with each other creating what can only be described as a force to be reckoned with. Standout track for me, difficult as it is to select just ONE, but the one I kept going back to was ‘Dashboard Jesus’. With the wind in the background as that drumline starts your feet to instantly tapping or in my case, my fingertips keeping time along, that jangly guitar line that rolls on for several measures before the tale of the road takes off from the line and I found myself reaching for the volume every time to try to get it loud enough!!

For a debut effort, I am blown away beyond and hope this a sign of what is to come from these guys, the album will be re-released via their new distributor Ripple Records after they worked out a deal in January 2017 and let’s hope they make it to our shores to afford to witness this band in the glory of LIVE!! Buy the record as soon as you see it, share it with every set of ears you know and support them if they come anywhere close… keep it LOUD!!

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New Album Review – Wheel of Smoke “Mindless Mass”

WHEEL OF SMOKE

Mindless Mass

Release date: July 09th 2016. Label: Self Released. Format: DD/Vinyl

 

Leuven, Belgium’s Wheel Of Smoke play 70s tinted prog covering metallic space/psych/stoner territory, as well as calmer and more melodic songs. There might be a mix of Opeth, Ozric Tentacles, King Crimson, Agalloch and Pink Floyd as well as some elements of pure underground America flavorings reminiscent of the likes of Lone Star (not the country band) and Roy Buchanon and the like with soulful bluesy progressions. Founded June 7 2005, this marks the third full length release and does not depart much from what has become their own signature approach. The band cites their interest as “Providing our fans and public with a memorable experience at our live shows.” and state that they are influenced by “good music, everyday life, knowledge and ritual, and the anthropology of perception” but extend further that Wheel Of Smoke has NO affiliation or affinity with any religious/political beliefs whatsoever. So nothing too esoteric or any social-commentary based fronts. Not a bad thing by any means, particularly when that is the approach of seasoned musicians such as these four show they are with this latest release.

 

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‘Degeneration’ is the first off and wastes no time with that 3/4 time sig, slight fill every 7th measure approach into the gravel-laced vocal that we can always expect from Filip (guitar/vox) / Erik (guitar/vox)  / Jouk (drums) / Tristan (bass/vox) and this has an inherent heaviness that grabs you by your shirt with no sign of letting go as the lunar-guitar assault screams higher and higher until the song fades among that bass rumble and you breathe deep. ‘Ruins’ has a quicker pace and shows of those KING CRIMSON razor sharp time shifts with guitar breaks to match showing that they are indeed happy to keep pushing the envelope with the timeless mix of fills and outbursts of tweaked wah-pedal glory flying in and out of each verse until the second the song just stops, no warning. ‘Bad Shepard’ hits next with pure 70’s almost dance-hall twang over the fuzzed out base line bouncing behind the rhythm section, sounding almost happy in progression until, just past two minutes when the tone turns noticeably darker and that trademark growl screams out again. ‘Unnamed’ enters with a soft guitar line, ghostly vocal climbing into the picture behind as the crescendo breaks into a trot then a slow-run, while ‘Synchronicity’ has a ‘jig’ tilt to the progression of the body of this song to the point this could be one of those ‘audience participation’ songs with lines like “We all know what it feels like” before the snap-pop tempo shift back into the next verse. I can almost see it in my mind’s eye when we hear “Hey” before the chorus rains again into your ears. ‘No More TV’ has a softer intro but breaks right into full unrelenting gallop as we hear of the fucked-up dream leading to a scream and then we are told “Let’s go drinking…” and the fuzzed out bass leads to an even faster run through as we run right along through the entire six minutes plus of this crowd-rouser type of song, executed with a surgical precision of solo attacks left and right, perfectly punctuating this track.

‘Feral’ is the last offering on here, and in my opinion, is the strongest composition recorded utilizing all the tools in their collection from a multi-layered vocal mix giving more substance and body as well as even using harmonic bends at the end of the solo-runs giving even more flavor to what has already been a feast for the mind and the bass/drum line could not be tighter or more precise than what is captured in this opus that clocks in at one second short of eight minutes. The shift to the spaced-out runs littered with revered and slight delay galore will make you feel the ground leave the bottom of your shoes in that stoner-rock way.  As you are rising along with the note-scales searing your veins as your pulse quickens to match the tempo for the last half of this final chapter that grows more and more complex and intricate driving madly towards that final three chord burst that ends with a dead-stop. My ears were almost ringing with the silence.

 

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Amazing production, levels above each previous release and shows they are ready to rise out of the underground. If you are a fan, this is a must have, if you are new to the camp, great introduction and will make you appreciate the ‘precursors’ to this release as you witness the growth of each part of the machine that makes up Wheel Of Smoke. Based on the ‘live’ vibe they profess, I recommend going to see them if you get the chance!! \m/

Words by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr