Fire Down Below may be one of the ballsiest space rock bands out there. The Belgian group shows obvious influence from Kyuss and Soundgarden among others, as the vocals echo the melodic swaggers of Cornell and Garcia while the guitars boast a scorching bottom end strengthened by the fiery production. The band also isn’t afraid to vary their structures as the songs are packed with fast drives, doomy buildups, and plenty of mid-tempo grooves in between.
This sense of adventure is even more palpable on their second full-length album. Hymn of the Cosmic Man features a similar stylistic template as 2016’s Viper Vixen Goddess Saint, but has a more contemplative execution. The quieter moments on songs like “Nebula” are effective and the transitions on the more elaborate tracks are confidently maneuvered. The riffs and structures are loose enough to where one can imagine the musicians jamming them out for hours on end, but the concept at hand makes sure everything stays focused.
With that, it isn’t too surprising to note that the longest songs provide the best moments. Songs like the faster-paced “Ignition/Space Cruiser” and “Ascension” threaten to drift too far off-course but always find a way back thanks to a catchy riff or a well-placed symphonic swell. One may find themselves losing track of what is going on at times but the ear catching moments make for good benchmarks while acquainting oneself with the material.
Space-themed concept albums are a dime a dozen in the stoner rock world, but Hymn of the Cosmic Man’s more aggressive take on the established tropes makes for a strong genre highlight. The muscular riff work would fit just as well if not better in the hands of a more straightforward project but Fire Down Below knows how to expand them without having lose their impact. For best results, play this while speeding down the highway and pretending you’re stranded on some desert planet.
“The Cosmic Pilgrim”