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Down IV Part I: The Purple EP
Released: 2012, Down Records
Phil and band return with their first new material since 2007’s DOWN III in the new self-produced Down IV PART I: THE PURPLE EP. The only lineup change is the addition of Pat Bruders on bass, replacing long-time member Rex Brown. THE PURPLE EP is the first of a planned four EPs over the next few years, each new EP planned for release within nine months of the one before it. Each EP will consist of six tunes and all of them will incorporate a slightly different flavor and sound, with the intention of presenting different sides to the band’s style. Obviously, fans of the bands will have plenty of new material to keep them busy for the next few years and Down has happily been content to be more doom, stoner, and sludge than extreme metal.
THE PURPLE EP reflects where Down is in their life now, with unmistakable nods to NOLA, considered the general consensus “best” album by the band thus far. The new album is in many ways lighter fare than expected, the distortion being reigned in for a focused low bottom end and down-tuned guitars. The style is still unmistakably stoner, incorporating more of COC than anything else. Tempo wise, this is all mid-paced and groove-oriented, Down being content to deliver gut punches rather than go for the head shot knockout. Produced in Phil’s own home studio, there is no outside interference (conscious) to meddle with the ganja envisioned sound, which is actually pretty good.
The most pleasant surprise is Phil, the guy really embracing some variety by aiming for, and nailing that stoner sludge sound rather than his uniform screaming and growling that characterized much of Phil’s post COWBOYS FROM HELL career. You might even say that he has added some bluesy elements. A good point of reference for Phil’s vocal style on this album would be Zakk Wylde’s vocals on Black Label Society albums. The only real fault I can lay with this album is the lack of any compelling riffs, or songs for that matter that resonate. Keenan still lays down mean and dirty riffs that sound great in the background but on close inspection lack the attractive qualities of killer tunes like “Temptation’s Wings” and “Lifer” from NOLA. The other mild disappointment is that the tempo is too uniform, the band moving snail paced in many places, and in order to do that you need a hell of a vocal melody and singer to carry it (thinking Messiah Marcolin here) to compensate for the simplistic slow nature of most of these songs.
Collectively, this EP is not half bad. Tracks like “Witchtripper” and “Misfortune Teller” are memorable tunes, sure to be played live in the current tour. There is much to like, and Phil really does offer more variety and emotion than he has in a long time. He is to be commended for that, but unfortunately the band does not uphold their end of the bargain. The riffs are just too predictable and unimaginative to give the album that extra push it needs to really stand out. Overall, this is still a fine album and will satisfy fans of the band, but it is unlikely to draw any newcomers.
3. Open Coffins
4. The Curse Is A Lie
5. This Work Is Timeless
6. Misfortune Teller
Phil Anselmo - Vocals
Pepper Keenan - Guitar
Jimmy Bower - Drums
Kirk Windstein - Guitar
Pat Bruders - Bass
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