The latest sonic battlefield from Down lives up to its formidable reputation and provenance. With members who have scorched stages and studios across the world as members of Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, and Eyehategod, Down’s newest release Down IV – Part Two has the power and precision that all those bands are famous for.
As expected, Down IV – Part Two is full of powerful guitars, crashing drums, and low, growling vocals. It starts off with the sludgy, Black Sabbath-like “Steeple” where vocalist Philip Anselmo roars like an iron man straining to break free and finishes with push/pull rhythms and high guitar harmonics of “Bacchanalia.” In between, all of the songs here have a certain drama to them, where the guitar lines squeal and speed to emphasize or contrast the lyrics or each other.
Pepper Keenan and Bobby Landgraff craft intricate riffs that blast heavy rhythms and shredding leads or match harmonies at high speed. There is a great sense of structure here. These songs are carefully crafted to maximize the story they are telling and they build to climaxing crescendos and relentless figures.
There is even a little bit of Southern-rock boogie (not a surprise, given that this was recorded on the North Shore and both Anselmo and Keenan live in the area) on “Hogshead/Dogshead” and “Sufferer’s Years.”
For listeners who like their metal heavy yet intelligent and complex, Down IV – Part Two will more than satisfy.