"Down IV Part I: "The Purple EP"

By Earthdog

Well ,Phil Anselmo promised a stripped down, rawer, back to basics Down release and that is pretty much what they have delivered. Raw production and a live atmosphere that has Anselmo even counting off the songs which further enhances the "live feeling" this EP has. To be hones,t Down are a band that I can go either way on and this isn't just a personal vanity thing, I really think they are a bit of a frustrating band to listen to at the best of times. They have always blended metal, doom, stoner, sludge and more mainstream rock approaches which is cool in itself but the blend doesn't always come off as memorable. I actually think sometimes the mish-mash of styles ends up being a bit of a pigs breakfast and doesn't produce memorable tunes you want to re-visit time and again. Having said that, Down do have a large fan-base so I guess I am missing something or so it seems.

This EP with the title 'Down IV Part I: The Purple EP' is the closest they have came so far to re-producing the 'Nola' sound and feel. It is damn heavy, almost surprisingly heavy in parts and there are NO ballads or bluesy southern rock kind of numbers either. They also engage in some good old fashioned doom metal especially in the songs 'Misfortune Teller' which doesn't sound that much different to early Trouble while they seem to mirror early Cathedral in another track called 'The Curse.' Elsewhere the band have really got their groove on but at the same time, seem to be on auto-pilot producing tunes that are so predictable by Down standards, you almost don't need to hear them. If you can manufacture Down songs in your head, they would probably sound like these 6 tunes.

As to be expected, the performances are excellent but you wouldn't expect anything less with a band that has Jimmy Bower, Kirk Windstein and Pepper Keenan, in the ranks. It is also a huge plus to have Pat Bruders in the band who is without a doubt one of the best bassists to ever walk the earth. Song-wise, the EP is solid but really only offers two possible Down classics, they being 'Misfortune Teller' and 'Open Coffins.' The rest of the EP is just a bit ho-hum and just a tad too much on the predictable side of the Down equation. The EP also has its fair share of irritating moments. Anselmo delivers a drunken sounding mumbling vocal from time to time but especially in 'Open Coffins' and while these passages are short-lived, they are more irritating than enjoyable.

How much you are going to like this EP really comes down to whether you are already a fan or not. For the fan, this will satisfy but there is no way that this is going to create or build a even bigger fan-base because by Down quality-control standards, this is not much more than average. Out of the 33 minutes, 13 of those stand out as ear-catching, essential moments in Down's history but the other 20 minutes tend to leave no lasting impression. The raw, bare-boned approach is refreshing and it is hard not to appreciate the live vibe this EP has but again.....too much in the way of filler. Songs like 'The Curse' and 'The Work Is Timeless' seem instantly forgettable. Overall this EP does crush with a brutal intensity not heard from the band in a long time, so hard to complain about this too much but I can't get too excited about it either...7/10.