Phil Anselmo’s voice does something to me. . . I’m not sure what, really? At times, he brings out my masculinity, inspires me, and other times the sound of his deep, raspy verbalization just plain makes me horny. He is my second favourite vocalist on this planet, and has been since 1991.
In 1995, Down released their debut, NOLA, featuring thirteen tracks of solid, hardcore doom metal with some obvious Black Sabbath trimmings. It featured the popular and straight-up killer track, ‘Stone The Crow’. In 2002, a sequel was released, titled Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow, which was more on the depressing side of the musical realm. 2007’s Down III: Over The Under was by far not my favourite; Anselmo fell asleep onstage at a show in Toronto (or went into coma, who knows?). Regardless, the album was too long, as if he was ‘Dragging the Waters’ some more. Instead, he should have taken his own damn advice and ‘Used’ it for what it’s for!
Now, five years later, Down has taken the less-is-more approach and returned with Down IV Part I: The Purple EP. This album is the first of four that, according to the band, will show off their contrasting sides. The Purple EP opens with ‘Leviathan’, which lives up to it’s name. Guitarists Kirk Windstein (Crowbar), as well as Pepper Keenan (Corrosion Of Conformity), unite their guitar crunch into one mammoth slab that never loses the groove. Jimmy Bower (Eyehategod guitarist) is on drums, pounding his kit as though he was trying to beat the living shit out of it. Pantera bassist Rex Brown has been replaced by bassist Pat Bruders (Crowbar) for this album – though it remains unknown if he will be joining the band in the future again. Brown is amazing, but if there was someone to fill in, it was a wise decision to fill the spot with Bruders.
The first single, ‘Witchtripper’, is significant in that it takes us toe-to-toe with the best of what Down has yet to ever put out. The guitar riff is not just a monster, it’s the demon that little pussy monsters are afraid of! The drums are all over the place, fills and rolls accentuated with crashing cymbals. As busy as the drums are, they never fall out of the pocket and they never lose the ass-kicking beat.
‘Open Coffins’ was slower and not what I had heard – it was to sound like lots of hype over a song that I don’t like or that has yet to grow on me; who knows?
‘The Curse’ is actually longer than ‘Open Coffins’ but doesn’t feel like it. I enjoyed this track very much. ‘This Work Is Timeless’ is a standard Down-sounding song; I guess we call that old school now.
‘Misfortune Teller’ is the nine-minute opus that brings The Purple EP to an end. I loved this song and I wish Down had done more of this. It’s up-tempo, a screeching riff that borrows from the pounding of Pantera, COC as much as it does the heavy distorted bass of Eyehategod or Crowbar.
I’m happy Phil Anselmo is still working, I’m happy with the album and excited for tour dates to be announced!
For more info on down visit: http://www.down-nola.com