IV: PART 1, THE PURPLE EP
Of all the guys from Pantera, it really is surprising that Philip Anselmo was the one to emerge and find the most success after that band. We all know what happened to Dimebag, but Vinnie Paul's decision to join an average to below average Supergroup and Rex Brown's recent move to the decent but not going anywhere band Kill Devil Hill leaves Anselmo as the lone guy still making music that a lot of the Pantera fans actually love and respect. Returning from the great but disappointing album OVER THE UNDER (disappointing because the production was so God awful), Anselmo and his southern fried project Down are back with the first of a multi-installment set of releases. THE PURPLE EP is exactly what you would expect from Down, especially if you were a fan of DOWN II: A BUSTLE IN YOUR HEDGEROW.
Like all Down releases, the guitars have a unique combination of sludge and old school metal. Pepper Keenan and Kirk Windstein are once again at the top of their game here. Their riffs are instantly recognizable as Down material, and they are as cutting as ever. Songs like the punishing "Witchtripper" find the two flailing away. As always, they are almost playing in a jam style, but their transitions between parts are far tighter than anything you would generally hear from a band that's just stretching out during a song. They play well off of Anselmo, who sounds better than he's sounded in a really long time. "Levitation" and "This Work Is Timeless" are classic examples of Anselmo having an almost revitalized voice once again. With Anselmo, he tends to have good moments and bad ones, but he's fresher than he's been since VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER on THE PURPLE EP. The band is rounded out by the tough as nails rhythm section of drummer Jimmy Bower and new bassist Pat Bruders. The transition from Rex Brown to Bruders is apparent on songs like "Open Coffins", as he is a much tighter player than Brown ever was. His playing is slightly different, and he follows more closely to the drummer's work than reaching out on his own throughout THE PURPLE EP.
PITRIFF RATING - 90/100 - This EP gets the best compliment that I can give it...that is that it's not long enough and left me wanting more. Down is one of the most consistently solid bands of the last decade or so, and there's seemingly no end in site from the sound of THE PURPLE EP. Killer stuff, once again.