Review Summary: While the rawness leads to some mixed results, Down’s first EP is an enjoyable venture.
Five years after the release of 2007’s Over The Under, Down has finally returned to the studio with their most ambitious idea to date. Instead of releasing a single studio album, the band is releasing four EPs through the next two years with the aim of highlighting specific aspects of their southern sludge sound. This is also the first release to feature Crowbar bassist Pat Truders in place of longtime player Rex Brown.
As many have observed, The Purple EP has been hyped as an exploration of the traditional doom sound that was pioneered by bands such as Pentagram and Witchfinder General. The reality certainly has some doomy moments, especially on the one-note brooding of “The Curse Is A Lie” and “Open Coffins,” but it seems a little too upbeat to truly dwell in the style. If anything, you could say that it’s not too far off from 1995’s Nola though the southern rock isn’t as prevalent.
The EP is also made memorable by its raw production and loose jam-oriented band performances. The guitars and bass throw out some solid grooves and the drums play like a loose cannon, though there are some moments where they blur together in the sludge. In addition, Phil Anselmo’s vocals are a double-edged sword. Having been a pretty shaky vocalist to begin with, he’s showing some signs of deterioration. Fortunately he makes up for it by opting for a cleaner warble but his prominence in the mix is rather questionable…
But while “Open Coffins” and “Misfortune Teller” may be a minute or so longer than necessary, it is safe to say that none of the EP’s six songs truly qualify as filler. A good bulk of them manage to be pretty energetic as “Levitation” starts things off with a few fun tempo changes while “Witchtripper” and “This Work Is Timeless” provide the most straightforward moments.
However, the best song ends up being the slowest as “The Curse Is A Lie” feels like it could’ve been a leftover from Crowbar’s most recent album. The opening riff just screams Kirk Windstein and one could easily imagine his scratchy bark in place of or perhaps accompanying Phil’s. Kind of makes one wonder if Down ever considered going for a dual vocalist format…
While the rawness leads to some mixed results, Down’s first EP is an enjoyable venture. Six songs is certainly not enough to truly whet the appetites of the fans that were waiting since 2007, but the songs are pretty good and make one wonder how they’ll fit in with the other EPs that they have planned. In the meantime, let’s just hope they can actually stick to a schedule.
“The Curse Is A Lie”
“This Work Is Timeless”