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Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow

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  • 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