This article will be the first of all the blog not to sing the praises of DOWN. An unbearable wait can sometimes lead to an even more unbearable disappointment, and we’ve clearly hung around since the announcement (a while ago) of their new project. So here it is, “the precious” is out. DOWN warned us : “Purple EP” was meant to be a return to the band’s doom roots. Ok. However, the band focused so much on this old school thing and moved away so far from their southern vibe, that in the end, this EP is devoid of charisma and warmth. Quite the last straw for the kings of swamp.
The wait has been long, very long. The fans have been waiting for years, looking for a song excerpt of even 20 seconds, to get the confirmation that DOWN’s artistic genius would last longer than just 3 albums. The first live excerpt to be released by the band earlier this year was “Misfortune Teller”. First blighted hope. This bird of ill omen may have likenesses with “Temptation Wings” in terms of tempo and atmosphere, besides it feels more like an uncompleted demo than a potential hit. The music is as thick as we would expect, that’s a fact, but the thrill that is supposed to make my heart bump is missing. I’d rather not dwell on the lifeless solo that comes after the first half of the song… Time for a facepalm.
The intro song “Levitation” fades-in as the natural resumption of “Bury Me In Smoke” fade-out on “NOLA”. When shivers slowly and strongly goes all over your spine during an intro, you quite anticipate a massive track on the following. After two minutes of a majestic rise, comes a never-ending and quite dull riff. Huh ? Where did Keenan’s and Windstein’s genius riffs go ? Those very groovy, catchy and swinging guitars that let you know after a few seconds about whom you’re dealing with. This said, Philip H. Anselmo is still perfect at playing his sturdy frontman role, crying his lungs out with power and conviction, and Jimmy Bower is also in a very good shape. One point for DOWN, nevertheless.
“Witchtripper”, the famous but mysterious title about which the band made such a big deal, is also a huge disappointment. Simple as that : take a cover band of DOWN, make them write a song on their own, you’ll get “Witchtripper”. As if the band itself tried to cartoon its own sound. There’s no highlight either vocally or emotionally, and it sounds as flat as a dead man’s encephalogram…
In the end, the more interesting tracks are those who benefited less promotion from the band. “Open Coffins” and “The Curse Is A Lie” give me a little hope back : it’s the first time I enjoy listening to this record since I pressed play. “Open Coffins” strikes up straight away with a very old school horror show atmosphere, driven by Pat Bruders’ heavy and thick bass (which sound was nicely highlighted by the sound engineer). The music takes off, and Anselmo’s screamings finally manage to make some sense to my numb brain… They were talking about Witchfinder General as a main influence on this EP : “The Curse” is the darkest song (if not also the best) of all the record. As for the execution of a voodoo ritual, Bower’s drums are sharper than ever, the riffs meddle like venom in blood… giving a strong feeling of awakening. “This Work Is Timeless” has fell off the “Over The Under” recordings, so you would hardly compare it to the other tracks. However, without being transcendant it has a real vibe and genuine dynamics.
When I read most of the web reviews that were literally acclaiming this EP, I wondered if : 1/ it was the first time these reviewers ever listened to DOWN (then I would understand their frenzy), 2/ the wait has instigated such a withdrawal feeling that they were likely to accept anything from the band, like real addicts, 3/ they were bought by the label PR. “Down IV Part I – The Purple EP” isn’t a mediocre project in itself, but when you had your time listening to “Over The Under” or “NOLA” over and over, when you’ve headbanged and raised your fists proudly on bluesy and thick tracks “N.O.D” or “Eyes Of The South”, you’re expecting some suprême de DOWN as a sequel. The 4 EPs approach was really commendable, but they probably should have written one perfect album, rather than releasing a serie of EPs which intentions are quite different (sometimes at the risk of sounding average). “Purple” is the first one of this serie, so future will tell if I was thinking wrong…
ALBUM : “Down IV Part I – The Purple EP”
RELEASE DATE : September 2012
LABEL : Down Records
GENRE : heavy metal / doom metal
NOTE : ✩✩✩
Last modified: 11 February 2015