Release Date – September 8th 2023
Review by Smudge
Stoner rock quartet Fire Down Below hails from the quaint Belgian town of Ghent where they formed in 2015. Their debut record from 2016 was self-released but it caused quite the stir and those wonderful people at Ripple Music were soon on the case and re-released the record along with their sophomore release. When it came to recording their third record the band asked Ripple if they could get hold of stoner rock royalty to produce the album. Up stepped Nick DiSalvo from Elder who jumped at the chance to work them. The band felt that they could accept criticism from someone like him.
‘Airwolf’ gets to the point straight away with bass man Bert Wynsberghe’s solid riff which is soon joined by some fuzzy down tuned guitars and a manic howl from Jeroen Van Troyen and we’re away on a big fat groove with guitarist Kevin Gernaey giving us some wonderful fills and licks whilst drummer Sam Nuytens lays down a hefty rhythm. What a great start and it gets better on ‘California’ with its squally intro that launches a monster groove that is desert rock all the way.
‘Cocaine Hippo’ has a jaunty beat and a low guitar before they all stamp on the gain pedal and it’s a loud n proud danceable groove with some more of those fabulous fills from Gernaey. What could be more desert rock than ‘Dune Buggy’ it literally takes you on a Kyuss-like ride through the Mojave until we park up at ‘Hazy Snake’, nope not a craft IPA, but a hypnotic trance-like instrumental where you close your eyes and let the sounds wrap around you like a soft warm blanket and you feel as though someone is stroking your head as you drift off into the dreams of the righteous. It doesn’t end there as ‘Here Comes The Flood’ continues the psych dreamlike noise.
‘The Last Cowboy’ rudely brings you around with some nasty, dirty rock n roll before the sixteen minutes plus epic ‘Mantra’ that has everything a stoner epic should have. ‘Surf Queen’ ends things with a full-on Dick Dale twangfest only the twang is heavily fuzzed, and the vocals come in right at the end.
OMG! This stuff is the mutt’s nuts. Proper stoner with some fabulous riffs and grooves but it’s not all just bludgeon there are some beautiful subtle touches in here too. Credit to Nick DiSalvo for capturing the magic and producing those wonderful sounds. Like stoner? Get Fire Down Below!
1 – Airwolf
2 – California
3 – Cocaine Hippo
4 – Dune Buggy
5 – Hazy Snake
6 – Here Comes The Flood
7 – The Last Cowboy
8 – Mantra
9 – Surf Queen