Released: 2007, Warner Music
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Good things come to those who wait.
So goes the old adage and in keeping true with that statement, New Orleans slugemeisters, Down, have finally delivered their new album, OVER THE UNDER. In fairness, it’s not like the band has been slacking off, what with Hurricane Katrina almost wiping out New Orleans completely, as well as the murder of “Dimebag” Darrell, surgery and other obstacles that got in the way. It’s a wonder this CD even saw the light of day and what is even more amazing is just how bloody good OVER THE UNDER is. Leaner, meaner and more musically-diverse than 2002’s DOWN II, the new album is rock solid from beginning to end with each member delivering career-topping performances. Everything is awash in a thick-as-mud swampiness but the top-notch groove-laden melodies and rumbling rhythm section—not to mention Philip Anselmo’s vocals—add up to what is sure to be one of the best CDs of the year and a crown jewel in the band’s catalogue.
Right off the bat, Anselmo’s hazy, spoken word intro to “Three Suns and One Star” is cryptic and barely audible but once his pained vocals kick in, the song takes on a new life as it locks into a sturdy groove powered by the riffs of Pepper Keenan and Kirk Windstein. “N.O.D.” swings with a heavy groove and big, crunchy riffs and the blistering, feedback-drenched guitar solo is a real highlight. “The Path” and “On March The Saints” are mid-tempo slugfests with megaton slabs of Sabbath-inspired doom. A southern blues vibe is present throughout “Never Try” and the slower, dirge-like tempo is unforgettable. Spacey slide guitar runs cut through “Beneath The Tides” and the psychedelic “His Majesty The Desert” will have many listeners drawing immediate parallels to Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan.” The epic length jam coupled with Ross Karpelman’s prominent keyboards (the band’s true secret weapon) add a Doors-like feel to “Nothing In Return (Walk Away)” and one can almost hear the pain of the last three years in Anselmo’s voice.
DOWN II was a bit bloated and the musical tangents taken by the band seemed odd and out of place at times but OVER THE UNDER rectifies those problems to create an amazing album that is rich in musical experimentation but also maintains the essence of what made NOLA such a powerful release. Anselmo had plenty of ingredients for lyrical inspiration here and the band has clearly spent a great deal of time refining these songs into the well-crafted pieces of music they have presented. Eclectic isn’t really the right term to use for a band like Down but there are a lot of surprises found on OVER THE UNDER and every one seems completely natural and fitting to the song. Expectations are high for OVER THE UNDER and this album will leave no one disappointed.
KILLER KUTS: “Three Suns and One Star,” “The Path,” “N.O.D.,” “On March The Saints,” “Never Try,” “Beneath The Tides”