New Orleans favourite sons Down are back to show everyone how heavy music should be done
The second instalment of Down's series of four EP's opens with a sound that can only be described as the gates of hell opening. Phil Anselmo's voice has never sounded so doomy, while a slow guitar builds and bursts into a huge riff that's Down through and through.
Down - IV Part IISteeple is a class track and immediately sets the standard. If you've heard Anselmo's recent solo album or seen any of the accompanying live shows you'll know that his voice has been sounding fairly shredded in recent years but thankfully there's no sign of that wear here. As with every Down release a large portion of their fans will want to know if they've recaptured the classic sound from the debut record, NOLA. The short answer is no, but that's not necessarily a bad thing and this is coming from someone who rates the New Orleans band's classic debut as their favourite record of all time. Perhaps unsurprisingly Part II picks up where Part I left off although this release is much more up tempo than it's predecessor. I personally found Part I to be a little lacking, especially with the slower tempo of the whole EP. That's not to say Part II is more of the same, in fact far from it. Sonically it might sound like Part I but there's the odd nod towards Over The Under and it features some quite different touches. The crushing, blues infused riffs and psychedelic moments should delight fans. Fans should already be familiar with We Knew Him Well from an earlier stream, while Hogshead Doghead is probably the most Over the Under sounding track on here. Conjure is easily the most Black Sabbath sounding sound the band has ever done. At nearly 9 minutes long it's gloriously doomy track that never once loses the listener's attention. Sufferer's Years is a blinding track that has Pepper Keenan's Corrosion of Conformity stamp all over it. The fastest song on the EP, it's packed full of lead work, the main riff is an absolute beast and Anselmo's vocals are superb. Closer Bacchanalia, finds them moving into some unchartered territory whilst at the same time always remaining pure Down throughout. Another 9 minute effort it closes with a trippy, Sabbath meets Zeppelin, miniature acoustic guitar outro that will hopefully (if Anselmo is right) act as a bridge into Part III. Founding guitarist Kirk Windstein left the band in 2013 to focus on Crowbar and was replaced by Bobby Landgraf. Listening to the EP on a digital copy with no linear notes to show writing credit, it's hard to say exactly what sort of impact Windstein's departure has actually caused as I believe he helped write at least some of this record. That may not become completely clear until Part III is recorded. What we can say is that for now, Down have released a monster with Part II and we've still got another two EP's in the series to come. Bring on Part III. 9/10 Down - IV Part II is out 12th May on Roadrunner Records. www.down-nola.com Horns up to Michelle Kerr @ Cosa Nostra PR. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fCoz5P3foY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxvYoRjIzls http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBLbrJxGtro