You will probably think I am crazy, but I have never been much of a fan of Down. My friend Buke has never understood this. I do not know what to say, I used to think it was the production sound and just a general dislike of Phil Anselmo that turned me off of Down. The early albums sounded really muddy to me back then, though listening to them now the sound does not bother me (probably all the doom metal I have been listening to has acclimated me to a dirtier production sound). As for Phil, while I loved Pantera, I went through a phase of disliking him because I thought he was throwing his life and talent away with the drugs. It seemed a foregone conclusion that he would end up dead, so I was not going to make any lasting connection with someone who was obviously on his way out.
Well, goddamn if he didn’t live and get his shit back together. So the last few years my opinion of Phil has slowly been rising, and now I am ready to give Down a fair shake. I did not have this EP on my schedule, but last night Buke asked me to review it, so what the hell, let’s do this.
My understanding is that rather than releasing an album per usual, Down is planning to release four EPs, the first of which is “The Purple.” This EP has six tracks and clocks in at over 33 minutes, so in a way it is almost an album on its own. If the other three EPs are this long it will pan out to be like a double album.
“Witchtripper” has been on Liquid Metal for a few weeks already, so I have heard it a few more times than the other songs. I knew when I heard it that I was likely going to have to change my tune about Down and eat a little crow. I mean come on, I have been Mr. Doom Metal Guy for the last however long, and while not exactly doom, Down plays some mighty thick, heavy and sludgy music.
And let us not forget about the rest of the guys in Down. I have been a big fan of Pepper Keenan (C.O.C.) for years. Until recently, Rex Brown from Pantera was also in the band. He was replaced by Patrick Bruders from Crowbar, and of course Kirk Windstein from Crowbar has always been a part of the band. Jimmy Bower of Eyehategod (and a number of other projects) is also in the band. How could this band not be awesome? When looking at the facts, it is hard to understand the bug I had up my ass about these guys.
So what do I think? I think “The Purple” is a pretty fine slab of metal. I think it will take repeat listens to really grow on me, but that is ok. There is nothing particularly ground-breaking about this stuff, but to me this is more like comfort-food-metal. I do not want to make it sound weak like chicken noodle soup, but what I mean is that whether or not it is overly technical or original, it sounds like the kind of music I would bond with and come back to when I need something special. I expect this is something Buke has already understood, and something that I will be striving to achieve. I have loaded the previous three albums on my iPod, so it is time I get started learning them as well. Especially since Buke is expecting me to go to the Down show in a couple weeks.
Check out “Witchtripper.”