Toadies

Hell Below/Stars Above

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After a six-year hiatus, the Toadies finally released their second album, Hell Below/Stars Above, in 2001. If 1995's Rubberneck was a pretty heavy album, with guitars swimming in a post-grunge murk, Hell Below/Stars Above finds the band trudging through primeval sludge, awakening the ghosts of heavy metal past. Songs like "Little Sin" evoke hard rock deities Soundgarden, and throughout the release, lead singer Todd Lewis adds plenty of Robert Plant/ Chris Cornell-style high-pitched syllables to counterpoint the "Hammer of the Gods" rhythm section bassist Lisa Umbarger and drummer Mark Rezinek endow the album with. Besides "Little Sin," highlights are the adrenaline rush "What We Have We Steal" and the requisite pseudo-ballad "Jigsaw Girl." Hell Below/Stars Above isn't all that original, but it's nirvana to some headbangers in an era when rap-metal was the only metal played on the radio.

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