New Down material comes around about as often as Halley’s Comet. It’s little wonder therefore that every time they do release something it’s almost always universally championed. While the band have never really missed, they’ve also never matched the dizzy heights of splendour that is their first album: N.O.L.A.
The Purple E.P. changes all that. Down are (for this release at least) singing from the same hymn sheet that made Down I so great. The sound is very back to basics; with all of the smooth production from Down III well and truly lost in the dust. The E.P. is six tracks of down-tuned Sabbath inspired heavy stuff with a very laid back vibe. Somewhere along the line the pressure has been taken off and the results are spectacular.
Opening track ‘Levitation’ fades in with a rumbling repetitive riff as if it had been there in the background since Down III faded out 5 years ago. As the track gradually finds itself to full volume all the guitars begin to talk. It seems everyone is trying to out-riff each other before Anselmo kicks things off proper with a 1, 2, 3, Go! It’s a punchy start to the CD …
‘Witchtripper’ ups the game some more. A simplistic one word chorus, fast (ish) shredding guitars along with Jimmy Bower’s Bill Ward inspired hypnotic drum work all add up to a catchy, but still mighty heavy, first single. It’s one of the best songs they have ever recorded. ‘Open Coffin’ is a similar piece of work with a stop/start pattern and the chest thumping “We. Wear. Our. Heart. On. Our. Sleeve” lyric.
The second half of the E.P. gets even darker. ‘The Curse Is A Lie’ opens with an Iron Man style groan of a riff which rears it’s head again and again through the song. A real slow burning doom song. ‘This Work is Timeless’ is a faster and more euphoric number almost paying tribute to the music that the band are laying down. ‘Misfortune Teller’ ends the CD all too quickly with yet another great track. Anselmo spits out the lyric “we’re right back where we started from” with regret in the context of the song. From Down’s point of view however, that’s exactly where they need to be.
Taking their sound back to where they started has really paid off for Down. This is the best thing they’ve done since 1995’s N.O.L.A. by far. In fact it’s just as good as N.O.L.A. Down have never sounded so damn ugly and doom ravaged as this. It suits them just fine too. We are led to believe this is the first of four E.P.’s that will cover different areas of the band’s sound. Whether they ever get around to making all four is anyone’s guess, but this is one hell of a first piece to the jigsaw.
If CB did a scoring system it would be a 10/10 (or similar) but we don’t, so it’ll just have to be a big fat AWESOME!