First Reaction: Down – “Down IV – Part Two”
March 10, 2014
Down exist on a plane of their own.
Remnants of Black Sabbath and Witchfinder General float through the black waters they sail, but Down IV – Part Two comes to life as a distinct, dynamic, and devilish beast. That’s the first reaction to this hulking opus from Louisiana’s finest metal outfit. The spirit of the band’s classic influences remains preserved, yet it becomes resurrected into something much more powerful than homage. Where other artists stay content with regurgitating that blueprint, Down rewrite the motherfucker and emerge as new gods in the process…
It certainly may sound funny to refer to Down as “new” given the fact that their legendary debut NOLA is nearly twenty-years-old after all. However, they’ve got their eyes opened to the future and towards the creative cosmos in a rather ponderous manner here that suggests the future holds their brightest and boldest chapter. That cognizance of the greater expanse is enough to make H.P. Lovecraft proud as well.
Down IV – Part Two builds on the group’s legacy and expands it in a rather epic fashion. “Steeple” encroaches with a calculated Jimmy Bower beat wrapped up with Philip H. Anselmo’s haunting howl and airy swirling riffs from Pepper Keenan and Bobby Landgraf. Pat Bruders exorcises a throbbing bass stomp as Anselmo proclaims, “And the steeple will fall”. The melodies only mirror that as the distorted throttling kicks back in.
After the ominous “Steeple”, “We Knew Him Well” and “Hogshead Dogshead” signal a Southern swamp death march bathed in gnashing guitar grooves and massive hooks from the singer. Stretching past the eight-minute mark into a “Hand of Down”-style bliss, “Conjure” casts one of Down’s most potent spells to date. You’ve got to just slip into its hazy hum, and you’ll get it quite instantly.
The soloing on “Sufferer’s Years” augments the intensity of the refrain, “And I hate this time of year”. However, “Baccahnalia” may be codified as Down’s finest hour to date. Nearly nine minutes and punctuated by an ethereal outro, it’s a rapturous ride through the musical excesses praising the Greek God of wine and “ritual madness”. Anselmo’s lyrics will get you thinking too, and that practice elevates the genre.
Ultimately, this is the perfect gateway into Down’s world. Once you’re there, you’re never going to want to leave either.