Down - Down IV Part I: The Purple EP
Record Label: Down Records
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Down's most recent release, Down IV Part I: The Purple EP, is their first release in five years since the band is more or less a supergroup, featuring members from different bands such as Eyehategod, Pantera, and Corrosion of Conformity, and that takes up a lot of their time. Although I hate using the word supergroup, especially in a band like this where only one member came from a really notable band, it's the best way for me to describe the band. Anway, unlike each member's other bands, Down is a sludge metal band. I don't have the slightest clue what sludge metal is. As I'm browsing the internet, it appears to be rooted in doom metal and aggressive, edgy hardcore punk. I can definitely see the former in Down's new EP, but there aren't the slightest traces of hardcore punk screams or anything like that. If anything, I'd call it groove metal just slowed down, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there's a whole appeal to what they're doing that I just don't get. Whether or not I'm right, I still think they're doing a decent job. The songs make you want to headbang, and I'm sure that was the ultimate goal. However, this EP isn't without its shortcomings.
The first major hurdle this band had to jump through was the potential misconceptions most fans faced when they popped in a Down CD expecting it to sound like Pantera part II. If you wanted that, you're gonna be disappointed. These songs are not guitar heavy and they aren't fast paced and thrashy. This is frontman Phil Anselmo moving on from his days in Pantera and expressing his life through lyrics with a completely different band that reflects a completely different phase in his life. The songs on the most recent Down effort are slow, but still heavy enough to get people to throw themselves at each other in a pit during their show. Unfortunately, this seems to be the only thing going for them. The first song, "Levitation," starts off with a head bob-inducing riff, and then two minutes in, switches to a completely different riff and the song actually begins. This small blunder aside (I'm not a fan of pointless intros like that), the next riff is really infectious and driving as well. Anselmo's rough vocals prove to be a great complement to it, and everything comes together for what seems to be the perfect product. However, as soon as the next song comes around, you hear the same thing all over again. So it's obvious that Down knows how to write a good metal song, but it also looks like they only know how to write one.
There isn't a break in the monotony until the closing epic, the nine minute "Misfortune Teller." Or seven minute, I should say, since the last two minutes are just silence followed by an incredibly brief clip of some other song that is too short to reveal anything at all. Either way, the song takes a break from the repeated pattern of shifting chords and mid-ranged guitar hooks. The band finally decides to throw in some variance in song structure along with high guitar leads and catchy drum parts that don't simply follow the guitar as all the others seemed to. Since the only real outcome of this EP seems to be a headbang, I think this song can be considered a success since that's all you'll want to be doing while listening to it.
It's a bit bland to see the same tired lyrics themes of death and war in metal bands, but in Anselmo's case, the lyrics are incredibly well written. Save for the mistake of "Witchtripper," the single who's lyrics are pretty much only the song title, you get some really deep, personal, and possibly relatable lines from Anselmo, most notably in the chorus of "Misfortune Teller." That being said, he's probably the only one really showing off in this band. The band as a whole works quite well together, but in the end, nothing really stands out. You get a nice, dirty production to match the doom metal influence, but you don't really get much else. I think that Down has a lot of potential, and they are definitely the standout band in their genre, but The Purple EP just didn't deliver like it could have. And I'm quite certain I'm not just saying this because Down is not Pantera. I really hope everyone truly understands that statement. No one would've been able to recreate Pantera, especially not a "supergroup" made of members from much smaller bands, so Down didn't even try. They instead put out completely different music leading up to this point in order to create a different, although much less significant, mark on the world. As successful as they were in being different, they were just not that successful in creating something with a lasting impression.