Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow
The first time I listened to this record I was in my car. by the end of “There’s Something By My Side,” I had to pull off the road, find a phone (no cellular) and call a number of my friends and tell them to drop what they were doing and buy this fucking record!
The second time I listened to this record I was fucking amazed that Phil Anselmo and Jimmy Bower would be guiding lights behind two of my new favorite records of the year. Down II and Superjoint Ritual’s Use Once and Destroy. Not so much amazed that Phil had it in him, but amazed that major label bullshit politics would let two stellar records by supergroups come out within months of one another.
By the third time I listened to this record, I was fucking overjoyed that I now had a sonic blueprint for how to age gracefully in heavy metal. It’s simple. Go back to your roots. And then dig even deeper. So the fellas of Down — Eyehategod’s Jimmy Bower, Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein, Corrosion Of Conformity’s Pepper Keenan, Pantera’s Rex Brown, and Phil Anselmo — did just that. They locked themselves in a converted barn on Anselmo’s New Orleans property, took a lot of drugs, pulled out guitars, and explored the tangled origins of the music that inspired them in the first place. What they ended up with was a broad, stained canvas of good old Saint Vitus doom metal, Led Zeppelin (namechecked in the title) epic grandeur, swampy blues, New Orleans boogie, and classic rock grandeur. Anything transient and trendy was chucked right out, and they set out to make a record that sounds amazingly eclectic and downright timeless. This is beyond just creative genesis; comparing the evolution of Down II to NOLA is like trying to see if a shark and an amoeba have the same eye color. Incredible. So much emotion and joy and beauty just drips from every single note, Down invested their very souls into this record and it just feels so fucking alive and vibrant. Totally life-affirming!
In interviews, all of the members agreed that they’d quit all their other bands just to concentrate on Down music full time — I say go for it. These five gentlemen have now given themselves an out from the more overblown aspects and expectations of their day jobs, to the point where they can walk away from preconceptions and create whatever they want, long into old age. Y’see Down II would sound just as good on acoustic guitars. We’re talking Neil Young timelessness here. Their rock and roll is not just a young man’s game. And we can go with them, as long as it takes. One helluva voyage beckons.
This is just leagues ahead of everything else out there in mainstream metal. Christ, the drooling morons at the Ozzfest musta been running for cover. Finally, the trend is dead, for real.