Down - III: Over The Under
Warner Music
Southern Doom / Sludge Metal
12 songs (60:24)
Release year: 2007
Warner Music
Reviewed by Dylan
Major event
I’ve always felt that bands like Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, and of course, Down, are the Southern response to what black metal has to offer for Scandinavians. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the freezing atmosphere that a good black metal album gives off, but I have a hard time relating to it. Growing up in the Southern United States, I can find a lot to relate to in the sweaty, desperate, and hazy atmosphere that Down’s music is laced with. So much so, that I list their debut, NOLA, as one of my all-time favorite albums. If you didn’t already know, this band is an example of a super group done right. That comes as no surprise, seeing as this is not just a group that happens to have Phil Anselmo as the singer, but a highly skilled collection of musicians. Pepper Keenan, Jim Bower, Rex Brown, and Kirk Windstein know how to make Southern-fried metal. Now with the agonizing five-year wait since the excellent II – A Bustle In Your Hedgerow behind us, each member has seen his share of hardships. With the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina permanently changing their hometown of New Orleans forever, and the tragic death of Dimebag Darrell still fresh in the minds of some of people who knew him best, it is not surprising that this album is the most introspective piece of work that Down has produced.

Right off the bat, with the straightforward riff-fest that is Three Suns And One Star, it becomes apparent that Anselmo has changed. His voice still has that trademark croon and power, but with the exception of a few moments on the album, his tone seems to be somber and exhausted. Sometimes this works very well, for songs like the bluesy Never Try and the drug-influenced haziness of His Majesty The Desert. Ranking right up there with Jail, from NOLA, this gets very high marks in the depression department, thanks in large part to the mellow wandering of Keenan’s and Steinman’s guitars mixed with Anselmo’s depressive, yet ever so distant voice. For those looking for straight up rockers, I Scream is classic Down. Riffs you can chew on for days, a solid groove from the rhythm section, and another top-notch vocal performance from Anselmo. On March The Saints is a bit more Skynard than Sabbath, but is a great rock track; showing some real radio potential. In the Thrall of it All deserves special recognition as well. Tucked away towards the tail end of the album, it manages to combine the things Down does so well; wrapping that hazy depressive feeling in that Black Sabbath influence they wear on their shoulders so prominently.

Still, not everything about this haze is as sweet as it has been in the past. This album is definitely a grower, much more so than the previous two were. As mentioned before, it seems as if not only Anselmo has grown more solemn and more introspective with age, but the rest of the band has as well. This is to be expected, as these guys have been making music since early to mid 80’s. As long as you don’t come in expecting to hear another Ghosts Along The Mississippi, you should be able to handle their maturity just fine. Having said that, I feel like there is a hole left where an immediately heavy groove fest, like Stained Glass Cross or The Seed could have been. The closest thing to one of those would be N.O.D., which is thankfully introduced early on in the album.

While most of the stuff here is very appealing to fans of the band, the songs that have the least staying power (Mourn, Beneath The Tides, and Pillamyd) seem to really drag on and on and on. This is partly due to the lack of a really strong series of riffs, and in some cases, a lackluster vocal performance. The biggest perpetrator of this is the closing track, Nothing In Return (Walk Away). Landing On The Mountains of Meggido closed out the last album while clocking in at around at eight minutes, and it worked to great effect, but for some reason, Over The Under’s comes off as sounding like the band is tired and keeps playing longer than the song was meant to be.

If only these three or four songs had been cut, or in some cases just shortened, I feel that this release would have been much better. It’s very good as it is, but it is my least favorite Down record as of now. NOLA was angrier, while II was more experimental and fun, III, however, is a journey on the more methodical and reserved path of Down’s career. You can tell in Phil’s voice and in the overall musical performance of the band, they were truly feeling what they were writing about and have gone through a period of great growth. While this record may have it’s fault, I’m still proud to have it in my collection, but am even more anxious to see what sort fo thick haze Down will lead us through the next time around.
Killing Songs :
Three Suns And One Star, N.O.D., I Scream, On March The Saints, His Majesy The Desert, and In The Thrall of it All.
Dylan quoted 80 / 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 - II reviewed by Jay and quoted 95 / 100
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