Album Review: Fire Down Below - Low Desert Surf Club
Reviewed by Matthew Williams
From the opening moments of the wonderfully named 'Cocaine Hippo' you can just tell that the third album from Belgian stoner rock masters Fire Down Below, is going to be something special. And it really doesn’t disappoint, with nine fuzzed-out, sunbaked feel good hits, crossing the boundaries of several genres, that makes it an instant classic!
Formed in Ghent in 2015, the quartet quickly caught worldwide attention with their brand of high speed, mind altering vibes, and Ripple Music quickly became their spiritual home, and reissued their first album 'Viper Vixen Goddess Saint', before releasing their second album, 'Hymn of the Cosmic Man' in 2018.
'Low Desert Surf Club' was recorded in late 2022, and the opening two songs 'Cocaine Hippo' and 'Californina' are going to blow people’s minds, as they are brilliant high speed bangers that really captivate and pull the listener in. The band also go different ways, showing their versatility, with spaced out and trippy songs such as 'Hear Comes The Flood' and 'Hazy Snake' with Jeroen Van Troyen’s searing vocals being quite mesmeric throughout.
The bassline from Bert Wynsberghe on 'Airwolf' is an almost perfect example of everything that is right about a stoner rock song, it amplifies the song magnificently with its power and precision and would fit perfectly into the back catalogue of any Kyuss record. And he keeps up the momentum with another masterclass on 'Surf Queen', before Van Troyen and lead guitarist Kevin Gernaey take over the song with a frenzied twin guitar assault on your senses.
These songs were written during covid times, and the band wanted to release “an album full of positive vibes and hope for better days to return” and boy, have they done this with great aplomb. There won’t be one single person who listens to this who will think anything negative about the songs, as they really are THAT GOOD!!!!
You only have to listen to songs such as 'Dune Buggy' and 'The Last Cowboy' to know that these songs were created with the thoughts of driving through wide open deserts, partying all day on the beach or in the hills and when the sun begins to set, you sit around a roaring camp fire with your close friends, sharing a few bottles of your favourite whiskey, whilst all nodding appreciatively to the intoxicating stoner vibes.
It all ends with the brilliance of the 16 minute 'Mantra' a song which goes from one place to another, meandering across time and space, with drummer Sam Nuyten’s hypnotic beats leading the charge, enabling the rest of the band to showcase their talents. So let the good times roll, and rejoice in the splendour that is Fire Down Below.