CD Review: Down – IV Part 2
Review by David Feltman
Maybe it’s just side project fatigue. Phil Anselmo has a new record label and an amazing new solo act. Jimmy Bower has a new Eyehategod album (the first in four years) nearing its release date. And though by no means greenhorns, newly joined members Bobby Landgraf of Honky and Patrick Bruders of Outlaw Order, Crowbar and Goatwhore have definitely changed the dynamic of the band. Pepper Keenan is the only original member giving Down his full attention. Whatever the reason or the context, Down IV Part 2 is just as just as loose and lazy as its predecessor.
The second half to 2012’s Purple EP is chock-a-block with classic riffs and devilish solo work, but the sound is bright and tinny. All the content for a good album (or half an album) is present and all of these songs are beastly when played live opening night in Birmingham. But the EP is largely maligned by faults in production and editing. Songs that start off heavy quickly loose steam and deliciously sleazy riffs are derailed by Anselmo’s phoned-in wails and grunts. IV Part 2 is deprived of the bottom end “oomph” you’d expect from a super group of southern metal gods. It’s neither as tightly composed as NOLA nor as explosive as the solo work with The Illegals.
Like II, many of the songs on Part 2 are borderline classic/hard rock rather than true metal, but that’s by design. Tracks like “Conjure” and “Bacchanalia” both capture the spirit of Sabbath worship that informs IV as a whole. These songs are nothing short of sexy, even if both tracks fall apart at the end. It’s evident Down is attempting to pay homage to the doom-addled forefathers of the southern metal sound, but the band is at its best when it focuses on its own sound. While IV Part 2 is a decent album, it’s ultimately more satisfying to go back and listen to those classic bands Down is emulating (Black Sabbath, Trouble, St. Vitus, Witchfinder General, Pentagram…) rather than to enjoy the tribute Down is offering.