Down - II
Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.
Southern Doom Metal
15 songs (75:59)
Release year: 2002
Reviewed by Jay

Being the end of summer (in the northern hemisphere at least), I thought I’d review an album that is perfect for this time of year. This album was released last summer to a hail of praise and it certainly earned it. Phil Anselmo’s attitude of late has been less than positive of late but before he disbanded Down to focus on Superjoint Ritual, he helped create one of the most amazing doom albums in a long time. Featuring members of Pantera, Eye Hate God, Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar, Down is a southern metal supergroup. The trepidation I faced initially was the band member’s credentials. I was never the biggest fan of any of the bands mentioned with the exception of Pantera. Down sounds like Black Sabbath if they were from Louisiana. They take all the great elements of the traditional doom sound pioneered by Sabbath, Candlemass and others but add the Southern flair to it. I was never really partial to this but Down makes it great. Slide guitars, twangy banjo’s, Hammond organs, country styled riffs and chord progressions, it has it all. When you pop in this album, it feels like you’re sitting down in the swamp bog with them jamming along. It’s hard to believe that this album was written and recorded in a mere 28 days in a Louisiana barn. Despite this, it is much more mature and organized than the previous Down release, NOLA.

Anselmo delivers an amazing performance on this album, dare I say his best performance on any album he has worked on to date. It taxes him more than any other release. He screams, growls and mumbles his way through this album and few other singers, especially European ones, could compete. There is something to be said for the southern vocal style applied to metal and it would be interesting to see future bands incorporate this aspect to their vocals. The mumbled vocals are important as well since they are quite close to the semi-intelligible drawl that some southerners speak in. The blues styled guitar is a welcome addition to the doom style. While Sabbath did have blues influences, this album makes them significantly more pronounced and much better incorporated. Leave it to the area that created the style to reframe it. The guitar performances on “Stained Glass Cross,” “Beautifully Depressed,” and “Lies, I Don’t Know What They Say But…” are nothing short of perfect. Keeping with the doom tradition, the bass sound is pronounced. That isn’t a problem since Rex Brown (Pantera) is a more than capable bassist. The drumming is better than the standard blues faire and incorporates metal standards like double bass and splash cymbals. The sound is a bit muddy but that is they sound that Down was going for on this album so it’s fine. In addition, this album just wouldn’t work if the sounds were too clean.

Lysergik Funeral Procession” is a great opener, highlighting both the slow and fast sides of doom. If you’re sitting at home and need an album to smoke some weed to, this is it. There are many albums to smoke by but this one is a surefire winner. The haunting, post-apocalyptic spoken word at the beginning of the song is eerie and the distorted solos add to this effect. Similar in style to “Electric Funeral,” the song smokes as an opener. The riff is assured to get stuck in your head just as Anselmo saying the title of the song during the first break down. “Stained Glass Cross” is a beautiful song. It has the perfect elements of country included but at heart remains metal. The guitar and Hammond solos are perfectly crafted. The chorus has many layers of amazing harmony that carry the song. It is no-frills but there are just enough frills to make this truly an ethereal listening experience.

The single “Ghosts Along the Mississippi” spawned an MTV video and got some significant airplay. It is more of a straight rock track but it has great verses. Phil’s mumbled vocals combined with distorted notes ringing into infinity are a killer combination. The chorus hits like a ton of bricks and incorporates doomy elements in a unique way. I could write about each song at length but I’ll leave you some mysteries for when you actually obtain the album. Anselmo should come to his senses and reform Down for another kickass album of southern doom metal. This album is the perfect album for summer and those hot lazy days that abound.

Killing Songs :
Lysergik Funeral Procession, Stained Glass Cross, Ghosts Along the Mississippi, Beautifully Depressed
Jay quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Down that we have reviewed:
Down - Down IV- Part II reviewed by Kynes and quoted no quote
Down - Down IV Part I - The Purple EP reviewed by Khelek and quoted no quote
Down - NOLA reviewed by Khelek and quoted 92 / 100
Down - III: Over The Under reviewed by Dylan and quoted 80 / 100
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