Just like that story about Pink Floyd's 'The Dark Side of the Moon' being the perfect accompaniment to 'The Wizard of Oz', The Roots' latest would make a brilliant and chilling soundtrack to the final series of 'The Wire'.

2006's excellent-but-overlooked 'Game Theory' was a troubling record but 'Rising Down' is even bleaker - its heavy electro beat, hell-on-earth lyrics and sheer relentlessness making it their toughest listen to date.

From the experiences of the guy on the corner on 'Criminal' to the filleting of former Liberian President Charles Taylor on 'Singin' Man', it's an album that constantly challenges the listener to stick with it.

Only their collaboration with Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump on 'Birthday Girl' offers some relief, and while that sounds like it belongs on a different album, it also serves to amplify everything which precedes it.

And in the right mood, you'll be only too willing to go way down in the hole with them.

Harry Guerin