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Down Down II

By Sefany Jones, Contributing Editor
Saturday, March 23, 2002 @ 9:54 PM


(Elektra)

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Seven years have passed, and Down’s Down II finally hits the shelves after great anticipation following their 1995 debut album, Nola.

Down is comprised of: Phil Anselmo (Pantera), vocals; Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity), guitar; Kirk Windstein (Crowbar) on guitar; Jimmy Bower (Eye Hate God), drums; and Rex Brown (Pantera), on bass, replacing Todd Strange (Crowbar).

Down II, in a mere 28 days, was written and recorded “in a barn in an undisclosed swamp somewhere in south Louisiana,” according to Keenan.

And, that, my friends, is exactly what this album sounds like. Believe me, that’s a good thing.

What a phenomenal CD! It’s like no other album that can be described. It’s hardcore, gritty, and yet so mellow and mesmerizing. It’s a perfect blend of metal and blues. It’s downright southern-fried rock, without the skin -- just the bare bones. On the cover, you’ll notice the phrase, “A bustle in your hedgerow…” which, if you didn’t already recognize it, is a nod to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” and kind of gives you a head’s-up as to the vibe of the album.

The hardest tracks on the album include “Man That Follows Hell,” “New Orleans Is A Dying Whore,” “Beautifully Depressed,” “Dog Tired,” “Ghosts Along The Mississippi,” and “The Seed,” which starts off by someone saying, “The power of the riff compels me,” before the music kicks in. “There’s Something On My Side” is also a great track – it kicks off heavy, and morphs into a great, flowing guitar solo. Although these songs are all hard-edged and coarse, Phil’s vocals stay more on the “vocal” side as opposed to his normal grungy screaming in Pantera. You actually get to hear his talent as a singer shine through. Sure, you still get his trademark growls occasionally, but it’s nice to see his diversity.

“Where I’m Going” is a great acoustic number. It reeks of deep-south blues… it’s so smooth and mellow, with banjo-tinged harmonies. “Learn From This Mistake” is a bluesy ballad. It’s the second longest track on the album at 7 minutes and 8 seconds. You wouldn’t know it, though, because it just sucks you in.

“Lies (I Don’t Know What They Say But…)” and “Landing On The Mountains Of Meggido" both are what I’d refer to as stoner songs… consistent blues-based riffs, and they both have a ‘70s kind of vibe. “Landing..." is very, very reminiscent of Led Zeppelin.

“Lysergik Funeral Procession” and “Stained Glass Cross” are both great songs, but I’d have to say the least favorite. “Lysergik…” is very raw and heavy, with a bizarre intro that sounds more like the ending of a song. Phil’s growling some words over the intro music, but then it kicks into heavy mode. “Stained…” has a weird circus-type riff that almost has a Mr. Bungle feel to it. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but then it kicks into some good southern rock.

Then we have the appropriately titles “Doobinterlude.” Yes, this would be the perfect time to reload the bong. At 1 minute and 53 seconds, it’s this distorted, funky background instrumental music. Pretty cool stuff. And lastly, the shortest song on the album at 1 minute and 1 second is “Flambeaux.” All I can say to this song is, “What the fuck…?” It starts with the only words in the song -- someone yelling, “Which one of y’all motherfuckers drunk all my fucking Kool-Aid?” Then it busts out into this crazy Indian tribal rain dance drum beat groove, mixed in with French Quarter party horns, and some “Heeey-oooh”s. I have to say, I’ve listened to it over and over, because it’s just so strange and impromptu, and however quirky, it’s catchy.

There is no other album out there even similar to this. This CD is definitely worth spending your hard-earned cash on. If you’re expecting to hear Pantera, Corrosion, or Crowbar, you will be sadly disappointed. If you’re looking for some groovy, bluesy, mellow, granular, down-to-earth, hardcore, heavy-riffed, straight-up rock, then this is for you. I don’t care what else will be released this year… this is my favorite album of the year, and well worth the wait!

Track listing:

01 Lysergik Funeral Procession
02 There’s Something On My Side
03 Man That Follows Hell
04 Stained Glass Cross
05 Ghosts Along The Mississippi
06 Learn From This Mistake
07 Beautifully Depressed
08 Where I’m Going
09 Doobinterlude
10 New Orleans Is A Dying Whore
11 The Seed
12 Lies (I Don’t Know What They Say But...)
13 Flambeaux
14 Dog Tired
15 Landing On The Mountains Of Meggido

*****


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