There are certain songs by my favorite bands that I can’t help but listen to on a constant basis. Some of those songs are played at perfect times of the day or night. On such song that I’ve loved since the day I first heard it is “Nothing In Return (Walk Away)” by Down off their album Down III: Over The Under. This song is epic and beautiful. There’s something so powerful about this song that it gives me chills each and every time. The vocals by Philip H. Anselmo on this song are superb. I have had the opportunity to hear this song live a couple times and it’s been one of the highlights of those Down shows. This is not only one of my all time favorite Down songs, it’s one of my favorite songs ever. As an album closer too, this is just perfect. It’s one of those songs too that when it’s over, you want to start it all over again. What a majestic song!
When Down announced they were going to go release a series of EP’s instead of a full length, I was excited. What that meant was more swamp-y, punishing riffs to go around. Not to mention More Philip Anselmo, Pepper Keenan and Jimmy Bower! Down IV Part II is 35 minutes, of sludgy riff madness. This EP is a more focused approach than Down IV Part I. Even though Rex Brown and Kirk Windstein are gone, Pat Bruders and Bobby Landgraf hold their own and bring in some fresh perspective to what Down is known for. Opening track “Steeple” is their best album opener since “Temptations Wings” from their classic debut NOLA. The riff is filled with such groove. Phil’s vocals are in top shape. “We Knew Him Well” is a solid jam with the heavy chunky riffs that down has become known for. “Hogshead Dogshead” opens with a swirling solo then jumps right into a crooning Phil. This could also be the weakest track on the album. “Conjure” has a very distinct Black Sabbath vibe. This is also one of the best songs they’ve ever written. Hopefully this becomes a live staple for all shows to come. “Sufferers’s Years” has a great intro and the guitar work throughout the song. Pepper and Bobby really play well off each other. This song really showcases that. Closing out the album is “Bacchanalia.” This song definitely has that 70’s vibe to it. Almost bordering on Thin Lizzy. Jimmy and Pat really shine as a rhythm section on this song. The outro explores the more acoustic nature of the band. This song could be foreshadowing into the realm of the next EP.
All in all Down has made an EP that they can be proud of. If at first you aren’t into it, give it a couple more listens and immerse yourself in the EP. Your mind will be changed. Down makes music in an honest fashion. There are no gimmicks when it comes to this band. What you see and hear is what you get. And with a lineup like this, you wouldn’t expect anything less.
Many “supergroups” have come and gone. Some have been great while others were put together to capitalize on the members names. One group that has always stood out to me is Down. During it’s inception, Down was meant to be a side project for the members during their downtime while in Pantera, Corrosion Of Conformity, EyeHateGod, and Crowbar. Comprised of Philip H. Anselmo, Pepper Keenan, Jimmy Bower, Pat Bruders, and Bobby Landgraf, (Rex Brown and Kirk Windstein have since parted ways with the band to focus on other projects) these gents have put together a formula of righteous heaviness. A lot of people pronounce Pantera as the holy grail of heavy, but I’ve always though that Down was the better band. Sure I get a lot of flack for this opinion, but I stand by it. All you have to do is listen to the songs. There really is something special about the music that these guys made. Not to take anything away from Pantera, Down just has had more of an impact on me.
Their first album NOLA, is quite a classic in todays heavy rock circles. Songs such as Temptations Wings, Stone The Crow, Losing All, Jail, and Bury Me In Smoke, all portray such vulnerability and strength in the delivery of them. After NOLA was released and a few shows were played, Down was put on the back burner until 2001. When Down reconvened, they did so at Phil’s home and transformed his barn into a studio and wrote and recorded their next album Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow in 28 days. While the album wasn’t as solid as their debut, there are still quite a few gems on the album such as Ghosts Along The Mississippi, Learn From This Mistake, Beautifully Depressed, The Seed, and New Orleans Is A Dying Whore. In 2002 Down toured as part of Ozzfest, only to take another break soon after. Then again in 2006 they reformed in the wake of the travesty of Hurricane Katrina and the death of Dimebag Darrell. The result was Down III: Over The Under which proved to be every bit of what fans would expect the album to be. It’s raw and filled with anger, remorse, sadness, and hope. Quick side note it’s also the only of their albums not to have any profanity on it. The album features some truly great well written songs including The Path, On March The Saints, Beneath The Tides, In The Thrall Of It All and the epic Nothing In Return (which has become one of my favorite songs ever). In 2012, the release of part 1 of their 4 EP set was released. The Purple EP was a slight return to the raw unpolished sound of their original material. Misfortune Teller the closing track on the album really showcases this return. Down are now gearing up to release part 2 this year.
Down has been able to wrangle themselves into quite the group. They are honest musicians that create music that satisfies the savage beast in all of us. They can write songs that are heavy as heavy can be but also can take you on an epic trip. If you’ve never really given Down a listen you should really sit back and enjoy what they have to offer.
Nothing In Return: I love listening to this song to end my evening after a night out or just when I’m coming home from work.
Bury Me In Smoke: Another great song to end the night to, also a great song to just listen to while driving with the windows down.