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.
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