Down, ‘Down IV – Part II’ – EP Review
In 2012, Down released the first of four planned EPs. After ‘Down IV Part I - the Purple EP,’ guitarist Kirk Windstein left the band to concentrate on Crowbar, but his replacement Bobby Landgraf is a former guitar tech for the band, so the transition was fairly seamless.
‘Down IV - Part II’ is not dramatically different from the first installment, but there are subtle changes. Frontman Philip Anselmo says the recording sessions were very democratic with everyone making contributions. The band’s signature sound is there, but there’s plenty of variety, as well.
There’s plenty of bang for the buck, as the six songs clock in at around 36 minutes, which is pretty lengthy for an EP. ‘Steeple’ gets the proceedings off to a strong start, a menacing mix of southern groove and Sabbath worship.
The groove goes up a notch on ‘We Knew Him Well,’ with Anselmo getting his croon on, in his own unique and gruff style. There’s no shortage of creative riffs and solos from guitarists Pepper Keenan and Landgraf throughout the album, but they and the rest of the band step it up a notch on the epic ‘Conjure.’ It’s the highlight of the EP, from Anselmo’s diverse vocals to Patrick Bruders’ rumbling bass to Jimmy Bower's potent drumming to the aforementioned guitar work.
The other standout track is the closer ‘Bacchanalia.’ The beginning sounds like a jam session joined in progress before easing into a more traditional song, slow and sludgy. The last couple of minutes are mellow and sparse with a few electric riffs accenting the acoustic guitar. Instead of going out with a bang, it slowly fades away, but leaves an impacting impression.
It’s evident Down made the right choice in issuing a series of EPs at reasonably short intervals. There is absolutely zero filler, and the releases are satisfying while still leaving the listener wanting more. That will create demand and anticipation for the third EP. The only pitfall is that with the quality of ‘Down IV - Part II,’ the next one has a lot to live up to.