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Down II
by antiGUY

Down - Down II
Label: Elektra Records
Rating: 

We have great news for metal fans, Down has returned with a mindblowing sophomore album aptly titled “Down II”. For those who are not familiar with Down, it is an allstar side project featuring Pantera’s Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown, Corrosion of Conformity’s guitarist Pepper Keenan, Crowbar’s Jimmy Bower and Kirk Windstein.

The band was originally formed so that the members could create music that stayed closer to the roots of metal and to pay homage to bands like Black Sabbath that inspired them to start off in music in the first place. They released their debut album “Nola” in 1995, at that time the band featured Crowbar’s Todd Strange on bass. 

Pepper Keenan explains the thought process behind the formation of Down, “ We weren't just blowing off steam and ‘Sabb-ing out’; we were coming up with some serious s***, “remembers Pepper. “And the reason I say that is because I can still remember the moment Phil threw down some vocals on this sludged-out, heavy riff I had. He then handed me the headphones (we only had one pair, and a four-track) and started laughing his ass off. Ten minutes later, we were in a Monte Carlo cranking a cassette of a jam that would become the song ‘Bury Me in Smoke.’ We knew we were onto something.” 

When the band’s debut album “Nola” hit the streets in 1995 it created quite a sensation with metal fans, selling almost 500,000 copies worldwide. An amazing number when compared to sales of other side project albums and the sparse amount of promotion that was put behind the release. The band played just over a dozen shows to promote the album and bootlegs of these shows became a hot item on the metal underground. 

Late last year Phil, Pepper and Jimmy Bower finally gave in to the unrelenting hounding by the press and fans about the future of “Down” and decided to reform the group, write a new album and tour to support it. So they got together, and recruited Pantera’s Rex Brown to play bass and added guitarist Kirk Windstein to the lineup.

Once they were back together, the project took on a life of it’s own. They wanted to keep the music as pure as possible so they followed the old school example of bands like Black Sabbath, Bad Company and Led Zeppelin and wrote and recorded “Down II” in just 28 days. The result is a mind-blowing album that reminds us of why Metal became the force it has on the musical consciousness of the world. When the band proclaims, “You ain't gonna believe this sh*t...” they aren’t kidding! 

Pepper gives us a little more background on the recording of “Down II”, “So here we go, round II. First things first, we decided that Down is not the kind of band that can be confined to a studio. Lo and behold, we came up with a genius (?) idea to isolate ourselves in a barn (later to be christened ‘Nodferatu's Lair’) in an undisclosed swamp somewhere in South Louisiana. Slept upstairs and rocked downstairs. Shipped in enough gear to get our point across (loudly), and got two Yankees with their heads half screwed on (half more than ours) to turn the knobs. With enough booze, food, and ‘miscellaneous’ items for no one to crawl out until it was done. Which was going to be in twenty-something daze. All this combined with an old chest we found full of freaky 70's porno mags we had basically created a modern-day Sodom.”

“If you really want to lose your mind, just ask one of us how. 'Cause this was a textbook recipe for insanity.’ By week two, it was as if we were in a gunboat, floating  through the Mekong Delta, hunting down Marlon Brando. No perception of reality or direction, but a common goal,” says Pepper of the recording experience. “Five freaks, all well-versed in the school of hard rock, banging heads at 120 decibels, surrounded by sin, swamps, and mosquitoes, with modern-day society a tank of gas away. This is the way rock records should be made.”

“When we emerged from the haze of smoke, the stench of alcohol, and the buzz of yellowjackets, we were sitting on top of umpteen jams. We passed out by our burn pit in the wee hours of the morning, listening to this Down sound on the jam box, and came to the conclusion that nobody in our generation of music had ever attempted to make a record this way. Raw, unbridled, from the heart, and most importantly, devoid of the rest of the world pure, “says Pepper on the official album bio. “One of the coolest things about Down is the fact that we don't have any preconceived notions about what is to come. When Down is in the ‘Lair,’ candles lit, ice chest packed, puffin' and passing, all fired up, we got no clue what's going to happen, which is a beautiful THING. This freedom allows us to write anything from mellow s*** like ‘Where I'm Going’, to slammers like ‘The Seed’. Where ever our heads are at, good or bad, up or down. This is what makes Down tick.” 

What about the final result? I’m very happy to report that the album is an amazing collection of pure metal rockers that effectively bridge the gap between the old school sound of Black Sabbath and the modern metal sounds of Pantera, Crowbar, and COC as well as  classic southern rock. The riffs will get your headbangin’ and those who haven’t heard Down before will be blown away by Phil Anselmo’s vocal dexterity. Here he sounds closer to Chris Cornell at Soundgarden’s heaviest moments than the voice of Pantera. Fans have nicknamed the sound that Down produces as “Southern Metal” and that label does seem to be a perfect fit to describe Down’s mix of metal and southern rock. 

Down may just be a side project, but you wouldn’t know that from listening to “Down II”, which can stand head to head against the music of any of the members primary bands. In fact, the music is strong enough to warrant this band forming a more permanent tour de force. You can never predict what is going to happen, but I’m sure once people wrap their ears around “Down II” they wouldn’t be disappointed if the band became a more permanent gig for the members of the group. 

If you’ve been waiting for the definitive metal album release of 2002, look no further! “Down II” is primed to set the music world on fire with its high-octane brand of southern metal! So what are you waiting for? Get your ass out from behind your computer and head to the closest record store and pick up your copy of “Down II”! 
 
 

Want more?

Purchase Down II Online

Visit the Official  Down Website for more on the band, tour dates and other cool "Down" stuff

Visit Elektra Records for MP3's, news, tourdate and more  info.

Enter our contest for a chance to win "Down II"
prizes!

Pictures and album art courtesy Elektra Records. All rights Reserved by the Copyright Holder.
antiGUY is the editor in doubt of antiMUSIC.com
 

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