The E.P. route is doing the trick for Down. Although, for most of their career, they’ve been a side-project; they have been notoriously slow at delivering new material. So the conscious decision to just deal in E.P.s for a while seems to have spread the load a little and here we have part II of the planned four releases. Less than two years since the last one!
Another release sees another line-up change as long-time beard of doom, Kirk Windstein, has departed to focus on Crowbar; so in comes Bobby Landgraf on guitar. Kirk will certainly be missed on the live circuit by Down fans, but here on the studio material it is pretty much business as usual for the NOLA riff machine.
Pretty much business as usual in the sense that Down have delivered the goods once more. ‘Part II’ is not a straight forward continuation of ‘Part I’ however.
cackblabbath.online lauded the first instalment as “The best thing they’ve done since 1995′s N.O.L.A. by far” and the lead single ‘Witchtripper’ as “One of the best songs they have ever recorded.” So ‘Part II’ has a lot to live up to.
There are some subtle differences in approach on this one.
If ‘Part I’ was a step back to the primitive doom of the N.O.L.A. album, then ‘Part II’ goes even further towards the basic approach. There’s no big lead single to liken to ‘Witchtripper’ on here and the hooks and choruses have been exchanged for gritty and occasionally more aggressive material. ‘Part II’ sounds like a jam session from one of NOLA’s more extreme bands rather than it’s best-selling son.
If you were to liken it to anything they’ve done before it would be somewhere close to ‘A Bustle in Your Hedgerow’. It’s a collection of abrasive and straight for the throat songs. They’re longer tunes however with ‘Conjure’ grinding a doomy path out for over eight minutes and the closer ‘Bacchanalia’ doing the same.
It all turns out to be a little unexpected but equally thrilling record. Anyone second-guessing Down would probably have earmarked this E.P. to be some of the most commercial material to date. With headline festival performances lined-up and the general popularity of doomy bands at the moment; you may think they’d go all-out to be the kings of it all. ‘Part II’ doesn’t embrace that idea however. It’s a plunge into NOLA’s grimy backwaters, but they’re still the kings. This is a great addition to the Down catalogue.