"Hell Below/Stars Above" (Interscope; 2001)

Reviewed by Alicia Downs

Six years have gone by since Toadies released "Rubberneck." In that time, their follow up album became much anticipated and also much speculated over. Not many thought that it could have the permeability to survive the years as "Rubberneck" proved to have and wondered if the band had it in them to shell out another tried and true rock album.

Toadies answered with their newest release "Hell Below/Stars Above." An album that stresses ideas of relationship and sexual innuendos, "Hell Below/Stars Above" easily has the playability of its predecessor with the custom hard rockin' edge Toadies readily project.

The sexual themes found throughout were playful and vied the charismatic teases found in Prince's work. For example, "Heel," as the title might suggest, toyed with the domineering commands over a subservient partner. Even more titillating was title track "Hell Below/Stars Above" - case it point "saw you with that other man ... treat him like I know you can ... stroke his chicken, hold his hand." 

But at the same time Toadies have maintained their ability to mellow out from the hard rock for a minute by divulging into melodic bliss on tracks like "Pressed Against the Sky" and "Dollskin." Both tracks were substantially serene while maintaining their rock edge.  

"Hell Below/Stars Above" easily shares the endurance capabilities of its precursor "Rubberneck." Every track rocks with the ability to be listened to gluttonously and gratifyingly on repeat. 

Toadies is: Todd Lewis (G & V), Mark Reznicek (D & Percussion), Lisa Umbarger (B), Clark Vogeler (G & Piano). 

More information can be found on their official website at

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 28 Aug 2022 14:16:30 -0400.