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by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Down - II: Bustle In Your Hedgerow

My lingering will o' the wisp of the first Down is the lasting impression that it was steely, hard and hi-fidelity. Down II seems to fur-line that surface with a mortal, underground, organic vibe, no doubt due to its homemade construction, which took place out in a barn, in the swamps, on vintage gear. Rex doesn't agree that this was a sludgier album, but man, what I hear is top flight stoner rock that reveals more with each listen, aside from the parts that are metal saviour immediate. These phat, warm connecting pieces include the last third of opener Lysergik Funeral Procession, which after a minute each of two tones of Sabbath, breaks into a freight train of military rolls and metal heroism. The same thing paints the chorus of Man That Follows Hell, Pepper and Kirk finding the spirit of Joe Perry to line their COC-meets-Crowbar-and-Pantera (obvious, but accurate) suitcase of riffs. And then there's Beautifully Depressed which is pretty darn rock 'n' roll, with a little bit of Hendrix thrown in, Phil exercising one of a half dozen vocal styles shown on the record, one of his most versatile sets of sounds to date. Dog Tired comes late in the record, but it is probably the sweetest, darkest, woodiest riff, underscoring the fact that with Ozzy singing, this would be one of the best Black Sabbath albums ever made. My chief disappointment is with the handful of mellow tracks, which all seem to be tossed-off, barely arranged, barely written. I dunno, I'm finding myself playing this thing a lot, but, aside from these barely audible interludes, the whole thing is one loud block of high quality sludge songs, very little vaulting into my heart, yet all of it cracking a downwound, couch-slouched Pantera, uniquely Nola-metal stoner rock smile on my face, Down creating do-it-yourself-er beer drinker's material for the handyman with a well-stocked, well-traveled toolbelt.
Rating 8

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