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Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow

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Phil Anselmo (Pantera), Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity), Kirk Windstein (Crowbar), and Todd Strange (Eyehategod) come back for round 2 with an album of heavy, swampy, southern rock.15 tracks. Elektra. 2002.In 1995, some of rock & roll’s most notorious–and well-respected–beer drinkers and hell-raisers stepped outside the bounds of their respective bands to form a sort of underground supergroup. That instantly legendary cult band, Down, featuring Pantera’s Philip Anselmo and Rex Brown, Corrosion of Conformity’s Pepper Keenan, Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein and Eye Hate God’s Jimmy Bower, shared a common birthplace in New Orleans, a love for Black Sabbath, and if the songs ”The Seed” and ”Doobinterlude” are any indication, a propensity for a certain leafy substance. On this headbanging, 15-track follow-up to 1995’s Nola, Down once again serve up a sludgy, sonic stew of Sabbath-influenced heaviness. Recorded in Louisiana, Down II has the swampy sounds, stoner-rock vibe, and dirt-bag patina of authentic, deeply rooted old-school rock ’n’ metal. From the stripped down, gently creepy ”Where I’m Going,” featuring dobro, farfisa, and Hammond organ to the ’70s metallic grind-groove of ”Lysergik Funeral Procession” to the Southern-fried midtempo ”Stained Glass Cross” to trippier, party-time entries, Down II provides an apt soundtrack for those still celebrating the dazed and confused lifestyle. –Katherine Turman

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  • I’ll just start out this review by saying that n.o.l.a. is probably my favorite album of all time, along with koRn’s 1st album and bloody kisses. I had a feeling DOWN’s new record would be a bit dissapointing and for the most part, I was right. Of course it would be nearly impossible to make a record that sounded as good as nola did. For the most part DOWN II is a shadow of what nola was. There’s only a few songs on this album that could hold their own against nola. The high points of the album are “Theres Something One My Side”, “Ghost Along the Mississippi”, “Where I’m Going”, “New Orleans is a Dying Whore”, “The Seed”, and “Landing on the Mountains of Meggido”. As for the rest of the album, its best described as southern blues rock, which is decent to chill to, but i think DOWN could do a hellava lot better. Real DOWN is “Bury Me in Smoke”, “Rebab”, “Jail”, etc. You won’t find anything like that on this record. Overall the album isn’t very heavy at all, and Phil rarely screams. On a positive note however, this is an important record to remind us of what “real rock” is, when bands like Linkin Park are dominating the charts, which is very sad. Give DOWN credit for putting out an original piece of work. But overall, after listening to nola over 50,000 times, DOWN II pales in comparison.

    Posted on March 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I’ve honestly been praying to hear from Down again since the first time I heard “NOLA.” When I found out “II” was finally coming out I was exstatic. When I first popped the new album in I was shocked. I had heard nothing in the media as far as the content on this cd, so I was expecting it to be similar to NOLA. Was I ever wrong! This cd has less of the Pantera style Metal feel to it and more of a Led Zep/Skynyrd rock feel. It has its heavy points (The Man That Follows Hell, Stained Glass Cross, New Orleans is a Dying Whore), but it also reveals a melodic side (Learn From This Mistake, Landing on the Mountains of Meggido). It is nearly impossible to pick a favorite song on this cd, personally I would give the nod to either Stained Glass Cross, Beautifully Depressed or New Orleans is a Dying Whore. This could possbly be a ground breaking album, because it is true to form you don’t hear any hip hop elements like most metal acts you hear today. Phil catches you off guard with his singing ability, and Pepper and Kirk pound out riff after riff of amazing guitar play. Rex and Jimmy deliver the low end swampy feeling needed to make this cd what it is. I haven’t been able to stop listening to this cd for a week now and that doesn’t bother me a bit. A+ job from an A+ band.

    Posted on March 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Those familiar with Down’s epic first album NOLA will undoubtedly find a great deal to like on its followup, “A Bustle in Your Hedgerow.” The band’s trademark sludgy Southern-style riffs and thick grooves are present on old-school metal tracks like the monstrous opener “Lysergik Funeral Procession,” “New Orleans is a Dying Whore,” and “Dog Tired.” The abrasive grind of the guitars give the band immense potency on these hard-hitting tracks. However, beyond the expected nods to Black Sabbath, the band also shows some signs of branching out. “Stained Glass Cross” has a somewhat funky sound, and “Learn from this Mistake” and “Where I’m Going” slow things down almost to the point of a dirge, with some rather mournful vocals from Phil Anselmo. Phil is his usual excellent self, with vocals going all over the map from plaintive singing to rousing shouts, and the band behind is in fine form once again. I don’t like this album quite as much as its legendary predecessor, but it’s still more than worth your time and money.

    Posted on March 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I’m a child of the South myself, so this has nostalgic value. These days, on humid summer evenings, it’s nice to take this out to the front porch along with a six-pack and reminisce of the good old days as a kid in Texas. Nostalgia and childhood memories aside, Down II does evoke feelings of bayou culture, swamps, smoked salmon, po’ boys, and a certain leafy substance whose name escapes me now. Light years beyond NOLA, in musicianship, diversity, and lyrics. Although NOLA had some amazing gems like “Rehab,” and “Stone The Crow,” Down II is the better album in my opinion. The whole album is a 70’s-meets album. Imagine Deep Purple mixed with Skynyrd, and toss in some Sabbath-style sludge for good measure. That’s the sound of the album. Even the title is a reference to Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven.”I’m done rambling. Down to business. After six long years, the who’s-who of metal decided to get back together, bringing Rex on to replace the previous bassist. Phil, Pepper, Kirk, Jimmy Bower–the whole gang, and new producer Warren Riker, all headed into an old barn on Phil’s vast property down in Louisiana called ‘Nosferatu’s Lair.’ They spent 28 days with rented equipment, some weird 60’s porn, and plenty o’ the leaf, and cranked out this mofo. “Lysergik Funeral Procession” kicks the album off with a 70’s metal bang and a memorable riff to boot. The production is a lot less ‘metal’ this time, and more ‘hard rock,’ with plenty of other quirky musical effects, from a Hammond B3 to a 1930’s steel guitar. Blues and country are further explored, evidenced by amazing songs like “Where I’m Going,” and “Stained Glass Cross.” A weird interlude and a drum n’ bass jam, and well as a few folksy/bluesy jams are also tossed into the mix. Phil sings through 96% of this album, and it’s great to hear his clean voice instead of the cat-in-blender thing we get with Superjoint Ritual and Pantera. Pepper tosses in a backup vocal here and there as well. The metallic numbers are still rockin’. “Dog Tired” and “New Orleans” are two good examples.My fave cut would have to be “Ghosts Along The Mississippi,” just for the title, and the song happens to be amazing as a plus, with a sick tempo change at the end and great solo. There’s plenty on here to like, mind you. It’s over an hour of tripped out music, and I love it. Most fans were let down, but I find it much superior to NOLA, and reckon folks should get this one first to partake in the glory before moving on to NOLA.Shout it with me now: “Perfection of the Seed!”

    Posted on March 14, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Down’s debut album, 1995’s “NOLA” was a true masterpiece that took seven years to follow up. Now Phil Anselmo (Pantera), Pepper Keenan (C.O.C.), Jimmy Bower (C.O.C. and Eyehategod), Kirk Windstein (Crowbar), and Rex Brown (Pantera, replacing Todd Strange) return with Down’s highly anticipated sophmore effort. First off, if you’ve listened to “NOLA” countless times like I have, you’ll realize that the new album isn’t as good but has a different vibe to it, and that is a rather good thing. I love “A Bustle in Your Hedgerow”, everything about it is so great. As on the first album, Phil sounds a lot different, you hear that he can actually sing instead of the screaming he’s famous for in Pantera, and Rex is one of the best bassists around today, and he shines on “Lies, I Don’t Know What They Say But…” as does Jimmy Bower on “Lysergik Funeral Procession”, and Pepper Keenan and Kirk Windstein are a great guitar combination. Phil’s wife Stephanie Opal lends some her vocal talents to album closer “Landing on the Mountains of Meggido” which sends the album off with a bang (check out her band Southern Isolation which even has Phil on guitar). Other standout tracks include the southern fried “Stained Glass Cross”, “Ghosts Along the Mississippi”, “Learn From This Mistake”, “Beautifully Depressed”, and “The Seed”. If you are a fan of Pantera or Corrosion of Conformity and have never had the chance to listen to the first Down album, I suggest picking up both Down albums for a fine real hard rock/heavy metal experience. I can’t wait to see them on OzzFest, they’re the only reason I’m going in the first place.

    Posted on March 14, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now