Album Review: Down - 'Down IV Part I – The Purple EP'

19 September 2012 | 10:42 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Metal supergroup return with solid EP

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Any kind of release by Down is something to get excited about. While there are plenty of bands that will happily shit out an LP when squeezed by their record label, Down’s releases ebb and flow depending on the availability of the metal supergroup’s members. Five years have elapsed since Down III: Over the Under, so naturally it feels like the stars aligning again with the release of Down IV Part I – The Purple EP.

In case it wasn’t already painfully obvious, Down are a band not to be rushed. With past and present members of Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, Kingdom of Sorrow, Eyehategod and Superjoint Ritual in their ranks, these guys know what they’re doing and have the runs on the board to prove it. With this in mind, it’s up to us to trust them when they say they’re drip-feeding a series of four EPs over the next few years, Down IV Part I being the first. Sure, it may not be another monolithic stoner-rific LP some of us were hoping for, but at least this way fans will get their dose of Down’s southern sludge swagger a little more frequently (albeit in shorter more potent quantities).

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As the first in a series, think of Down IV Part I as the boisterous bull-out-of-the-gates EP. This is the sound of Down firing on all cylinders, shaking off any dust that may have settled between Down III and now. From the Black Sabbath-esque wailing of `Levitation’ to the metallic chug of `Witchtripper’, all six songs kick and sway with Down’s gritty, sludge-riddled grooves. There’s no time for the token acoustic ballad tucked around the end here – these songs are intended to shake your brain, with all fat and filler stripped away.

From the opening teeth-gritting march to closing distortion-drenched echo, Down cram everything they can collectively muscle into this EP. `Open Coffins’ should come with a bottle of Jack Daniels and TV tuned to static. The song stomps along in typically doomy Down style until it lifts off into hazy, spacey territory. Meanwhile, `The Curse Is A Lie’ and `This Work Is Timeless’ feature some soulful crooning from Phil Anselmo, nestled amongst Pepper Keenan and Kirk Windstein’s blistering solos. With a polite tip of the cap to Saint Vitus, Trouble and those of a similar ilk, it’s Down once more mixing the intensity of modern metal with the grooves of those that came before them – something they excel at.

Things culminate with the epic `Misfortune Teller’, a sprawling jam where Anselmo pours his anguish into the vocals like he’s exercising spiteful demons of the past as he cries, `a grave mistake, we’re right back where we started from’. It fades out around the end before fading in again, like a teaser of what’s to come next (if you’re wondering, the band have hinted the next few EPs will explore more mellow/experimental territory, a contrast to the series’ scorching intro).

It may only be an EP, but Down IV Part I is packed tighter than the bongs these guys rip while writing their cathartic jams. Straight out of New Orleans, Louisiana, if the EP had an odour it would reek of hard liquor, sweat and weed. Bring on the next three.

1. Levitation

2. Witchtripper

3. Open Coffins

4. The Curse Is A Lie

5. This Work Is Timeless

6. Misfortune Teller