on October 13, 2012
Down IV Part 1: The Purple EP is the upcoming EP to be released by metal supergroup Down, and is the first material to surface in five years since the release of Down III: Over The Under. Down IV Part 1 will be released on September 17, 2012 via Roadrunner Records. It is 6 tracks long and clocks in at 33 minutes in total length.
Down IV Part 1: The Purple EP is the first release to feature new bassist Pat Bruders (who also plays in Crowbar), following Rex Brown's departure in 2011, to focus on his new project Kill Devil Hill. Other than the changing of members of the low-end, the Down line-up remains the same.
Considering that we have had no new Down material within 5 years, this EP has been a long time coming. Estimated to for the new material to be spread out over four EPs, eventually making up Down IV as a whole, The Purple EP is the first of four expected EPs to be released over the year. We can only wait.
Over these 6 six songs, there is an intensity that only Down can put out with any release, and it feels to me as if I'm greeting a long-time friend who I've not seen for a while. Pat Bruders seems to slot in just perfectly, having already played in Crowbar for a number of years alongside Kirk Windstein, and here mainly thanks to the production work his bass can be heard perfectly on the song. Speaking of production here it seems that Down have tried to go a bit 'old-school' in terms of production by giving it a more sludgier sound, instead of a clean and polished album, and it has been said that they tried to go back to the days of their first album, NOLA, of how they did things.
These 6 songs only represents a fraction of the new material that is heading our way, but we obviously don't know when. The EP begins with 'Levitation' which has a short intro of the instruments jamming along and it seems like they are all having a good time, obviously Phil's vocals have not made their appearance yet. After a minute or so of jamming, the instruments colliding and fusing to make up the new sound of Down which sounds no different to the sound heard on 2007's Down III, Phil's vocal cut through like a knife and bring the song to its full potential, everyone here standing out (even the newest member Pat) and Phil here is sound better than he has done for years, though not as good as his Pantera days.
Next up is the lead single 'Witchtripper' which you've probably heard by now, and it begins with a short pinched guitar note before the song really kicks in.Down here seem to have really been working on the material a long time, going as far back as October 2011. It's sludgy, groovy and the guitar work is technically sound, though you'd least expect that when you have axemen like Pepper and Kirk on guitars -- or at least, what did you expect!? Thanks to the Billboard.com exclusive first listen I heard the EP in its full glory and I don't know about you, but I couldn't go and download the single -- for me, I needed to hear the EP fully, one track after another. Phil's voice again here is unique but also sounding a little different, he uses different timbres to enhance certain parts throughout the song -- his voice going down to a deeper tone; whilst Jimmy on the drums is as tight as ever.
Next up, the EP's third track -- and my favourite so far, because of its meaning -- is 'Open Coffins'. It begins with Phil counting it before the song fully kicks in, with a sort of laid-back beat to this song but still it remains wholly Down. Whilst Phil's voice remains only Phil's, here it sounds as if he is trying to utilize his voice in a different way, though I'm not sure how -- singing differently, maybe using a higher/lower toning, but to me it sounds fantastic. Halfway through the song breakdowns which leaves more room for improvisation and interpretation, and here you hear some faint shredding from the guitars, both Pepper and Kirk, whilst this is more rhythmic patterns from Jimmy. Also, something I just noticed, just before the chorus kicks you can hear Phil singing: "We wear our heart on our sleeve." Which I really like as it's saying: "We are who are, take us for that or go away!"
The fourth track, 'The Curse is a Lie', didn't really stand out to me at first meaning that I didn't pay much attention to it, so that's my bad. Revisiting the EP on my second listen this is definitely a track that is standing out more, which starts off with some really spooky sounding guitar notes, building tension. I really like how this starts off with just the guitar, as it's not just 'in your face' but also demonstrates that these guys can play. This song is not as sludgier as the rest of the EP, but it's more laid back and groovier song, and it's more somber than anything, and there is a utilization of space within this song -- what I mean is that the guitars are not just playing rhythms, but rather come in here and there with a strong power chord with a few notes before exiting out again. The drums are right, the bass is thunderous, and most of all Phil's voice is right in your face. Again this floats by without me noticing so it will probably take a few more listens, other than that a good song.
The fifth track, 'This Work is Timeless' mainly speaks about leaving a legacy behind after they die, work such as Pantera, Crowbar, Kingdom of Sorrow Corrosion of Conformity, EyeHateGod and not least of all: Down. This starts off with a count-in from Jimmy and then song fully kicks in, but has a little interplay between the band as they jam the song out. Again, Phil is trying out new things with his voice in this EP it seems as his voice kicks in and is sounding very different from the previous song, and perhaps it's trying to make the songs sound different and unique. The song's lyrics go like this at the beginning: "When You Return / Expect Concern / Live Through The High / And The Lower". This song is sludy, groovy and heavy - it has everything Down about it, but halfway through breaks down for some duo guitar work -- fantastic!
The sixth and last song, 'Misfortune Teller', could be found on YouTube when Down debuted it in their live set. Here it differs to the live performance, and starts off with a pinched guitar note before the sludgy groove kicks in. This is my second favourite off of the EP purely because it's what I call a 'head-nodder' -- it makes you nod your head, just listen to it! A little deceptive with the length of 9 minutes, whereas the song only lasts 7 minutes and then the rest of the song is silence only until the song fades in again at 8:38 to introduce perhaps the start of Down IV Part 2 perhaps? Anyways, 'Misfortune Teller' is a groovy, sludgy song and it ends the EP on on a high note, though there is a guitar solo halfway through as well.
Overall, Down IV Part 1 is only a taste of the new Down that will be coming our way (though obviously uncertain of when), but here only positive signs can be taken -- Pat Bruders, the newest member, slots in perfectly and it feels as Rex left on amicable terms, rather than leave in hostile terms. The 6 songs featured here are slices of sludginess from the New Orleans supergroup and I'm sure that fans of Down, or just metal fans in general, with soak this up with aplomb; only added to the fact Down being signed to Roadrunner Records/Warner, so it will distribute well. If you know Down and what they're about -- then you'll surely get this. If not when September 17 (or 18) comes, then pick it up.
Rating: 5 / 5
on February 11, 2014
Im a pretty big Down fan, and have listened to all of their records, and i can safely say that in my opinion, this is Down's worst release. Im not saying that this EP is bad by any means, it just isn't as good as their previous releases. None of the songs really stand out to me, and are all just ok. The best track on would probably be Misfortune Teller if i had to pick one, but once again, it's nothing THAT great. I think my biggest problem with this EP is that it doesn't really have that signature Down sound to it, especially when it comes to the riffs. It's borderline generic sounding to me. There's supposed to be a another new EP dropping in a couple of months, so i really hope that it is better than this one, and goes back to Down's roots.
Overall, i don't recommend this album to anyone other than die-hard Down fans. If you are new to Down, i HIGHLY recommend checking out NOLA or A Bustle In Your Hedgerow first.