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Down IV Part I: The Purple EP
October 2012
Released: 2012, Self Released
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

Part one of Down’s four part installment plan of doom is the culmination of everything that the band has hinted that it could be up to this point. A six track effigy of sludge induced euphoria, THE PURPLE EP reconciles the raw angst of NOLA with the more cerebral and chemical induced submission of OVER THE UNDER for a genuinely powerful and gut wrenching collection of stoner bliss. Collectively I’d argue it’s the most satisfying effort that the super group has offered up to date.

I’ve loved the NOLA disc since it hit the streets a hundred years ago (at least it seems like it’s been that long), but the six new tunes that Down has nurtured on this first of 4 EPs are the most consistent and organic that we’ve heard from the band since that landmark debut. Plainly said, this is the first time in a long time where the band has sounded really comfortable existing as a real “band”; not a super group built from figureheads in the doom/sludge genre, but a collection of talented and likeminded musicians who’ve buckled down to craft some quality tunes. Even if this disc didn’t bear the Down brand attached to it, I’d be just as enamored because it’s really that good. Scratch that, it’s really that great.

I’m going to wager that most have heard “Witchtripper” by now as it’s been the single of choice for a while, and rightly so. It’s a positive gauge of where the band is at with THE PURPLE EP; it’s a mid-tempo stoner jam that gets the groove-a-flowin’ with a simple but readily accessible structure. It’s hard not to like the tune, but it's got tough competition from each of its counterparts for the best track award. Opener “Levitation” runs for almost a full two minutes of buildup before meeting Phil Anselmo’s vocal introduction, and is confident enough to rely on the rolling riffs beneath the surface to carry the track forward. Anselmo’s harmonies immediately recall the gruff scowls of classic Down, but are far less over the top (and much more comfortable) than some listeners may be used to. “Open Coffins” has my vote for best of show with its pumping, pissed off swagger, but “The Curse” runs as a close runner up with its off-time, trudging bounce. “This Work is Timeless” would’ve been just as appropriate a title for the album as it is for the track it adorns. Music like this is indeed timeless, recalling the Sabbathian influence of the late 60s’/early ‘70s while sounding just as important and HEAVY 40 years after the fact. “Misfortune Teller” is the epic closer on the EP, a tempo shifting jezebel that woos you with driving rhythms only to draw you down into the molasses sludge of the chorus. The tune fades out at around the 6 ½ minute mark only to eventually segue back in a couple of minutes later with a final coda that retains a massive quality from start to finish.

The base level ingredients of THE PURPLE EP are six REALLY solid tracks of southern flavored doom metal. At a more cognizant level, you’ve got six tracks from a band that for the first time in a long time sounds relaxed enough to just jam and have some herbal induced fun. Musically it's a formula that hasn't changed much in almost half a century, but goddamn does Down rock the crap out of it with these new tracks. I eat, sleep, and breathe this type of music on a daily basis, and I haven’t felt as psyched about a set of tunes like this since I don’t know when. And the fact that Down is releasing each of these EPs on their own is a declaration of confidence in their work, and should be all the more reason you need to plunk down a few bucks to pick up a copy. If you like your heavy really f@#kin’ heavy, Down has the cure for what ails ya. DOWN IV PART I: THE PURPLE EP is available now, do yourself a favor and check this out.
Track Listing

1. Levitation
2. Witchtripper
3. Open Coffins
4. The Curse is a Lie
5. This Work is Timeless
6. Misfortune Teller


Phil Anselmo – Vocals
Kirk Windstein – Guitars
Pepper Keenan – Guitars
Jimmy Bower – Drums
Patrick Bruders – Bass
Big Ross – Keyboard, Organs

Next review: » Down - Down IV Part I: The Purple EP
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Down IV Part I: The Purple EP
October 2012
Released: 2012, Down Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Erich

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.
Track Listing

1. Levitation

2. Witchtripper

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

Next review: » Dunn, Sam - Metal Evolution-Episode 10: Power Metal (DVD)
Previous review: » Dokken - Broken Bones

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