Bart M. : Fire Down Below brings us their second album and it is entitled 'Hymn Of The Cosmic Man', a name that literally gives me goosebumps. It is the follow-up to 2016's 'Viper Vixen Goddess Saint' and shows a considerate development. Both the titles (of the albums and the songs) as the album cover art let us know that this band is not afraid to play things on the adventurous side and this is also clearly evident in their music.
The album kicks off with the instrumental 'Red Giant'. I generally dislike intros (if I can name this song as such), but 'Red Giant' is heavy, vivacious and far away, and right away manages to create the atmosphere you expect on a journey through space. An atmosphere that is further elaborated upon in the next two songs, that seem a little lighter in content and even hold quite a bit of humor ('Saviour Of Man'). These songs are somewhat fast and have a big rock 'n roll vibe as they carry us further off into the infinity of blackness, accompanied by groovy riffs. 'The Cosmic Pilgrim' has a rather more serious tone. Farther away. I used that term a couple of sentences ago and it is a way for me to try to describe what I feel when I hear certain, slowly shredding guitars. It is a post rock way of introducing guitars to a song and even though we are hearing this more and more often, in various interesting combinations, I have not had enough of them by a long shot! Fire Down Below combines it with strong stoner riffs and grunge-like vocals. I have to say honestly that I had to listen to it four times before I started to enjoy this combination, but once you get it you will find it caresses the ears smoothly. Singer Jeroen van Troyen shows us, in this song and the ones that follow, that he is able to use his voice in multiple ways and he does so the right way at the right time, making every moment, both musically and vocally, enjoyable. The quieter song 'Nebula' is a good example of this and it almost lets you slip away into oblivion in the mists beyond the last frontier, until we come to 'Ascension', a song that sounds even deeper in. And thus, the further we float into 'Hymn Of The Cosmic Man' the more it feels like Fire Down Below is straying from the path well known. The result is a very progressive sound and this song even sounds very sludgy! It is a clear thing that the boxed thinking that we metalheads are so very good at may finally be coming to an end. The rather heavy conclusion of this song unfortunately brings us to the (fortunately) rather lengthy last song: 'Adrift In A Sea Of Stars', in which all of the styles and influences mentioned before combine greatly in a merciless conclusion.
It took me some time to realise, but 'Hymn Of The Cosmic Man' is definitely worth listening to. It does not even matter so much which genres have your preference. It is versatile enough to be of interest to anyone and coherent enough to not fall into needless long-windedness.