You’ve yet to witness the power and passion of a band the likes of Down… unless you’ve seen them in concert. Then this live album will bring back hazy memories…
This review is incredibly biased.
I just wanted to express this from the get-go. I fucking love this band. I always have, ever since I got my hands on NOLA in high school. The riffs and themes this band rides on just speak to my musical soul. Really, you get the sense that this live set that documents Down’s resurgence in 2006 and subsequent European tour that you don’t need to be from the South to get these guys.
While I haven’t sat down and listened to the audio portion of this set – I only got an advance of the DVD – I feel that the DVD allowed me to hear what I needed to hear in order to appreciate it. What’s depicted here is incredibly accurate to the real live experience when you go to a Down show. I had the opportunity to catch Down twice in 2008, both on their North American headlining tour and when they opened for Metallica later on in the fall.
These guys may look like a ragtag group of guys, but when they hit the stage, they’re seasoned veterans. For me, this was most apparent on “Bury Me in Smoke,” Down’s signature opus as far as I’m concerned. The sonic riff that Kirk and Pepper are firing off is just metal euphoria and Rex’s bouncing bass and Jimmy Bower’s pounding percussion only add to the fray.
Phil Anselmo is in top form with his gutteral, baratone croon and on the DVD as an unannounced “Special Guest” act to open the main stage at the Download Festival, Phil stops the set and threatens to beat the shit out of anybody who doesn’t headbang with the music.
The song selection is a “who’s who” of the Down catalog – remember, this was the tour that led to the recording of Down III – Over the Under, so there's only tunes from the first two albums. Each song hits hard and fucking matters, whether it’s a brutal joint like “Lifer,” a pulsing dirge like “New Orleans is a Dying Whore,” or a harmonious, psychedelic Black-Sabbath channeling jam like “Jail,” definitely the highlight performance to witness on the DVD.
The funnest moments on the DVD are the prostrate-on-a-backstage-couch ramblings of Phil Anselmo, a guy who’s done it as hard as anybody else over his years in Pantera, Superjoint Ritual, and this band among others. His speaking voice is deeper than a didgeridoo and his words are slow, deliberate, and passionate. He means what he says and says what he means, no matter how outrageous or blunt, and by the end, you believe that these guys fly the Down flag like their lives depended on it. They believe in what they’re doing and that accounts for the great dedication of hardcore Down fans, any of which will be happy with this release.
The 411: If you like Down, you’ll love this CD/DVD combo. It’s just such a great reminder of why this band is great, and if you saw them live in the past, it’s a memento to what a great experience that surely was. These guys sound as tight on stage as they do in the studio, and I only look forward to great things from them when they hit the studio for the next chapter in the Down legacy.
Final Score: 9.0 [ Amazing ]