Down IV Part One - The Purple EP
ILG/ Warner Music Group

Down was originally a bayou-based, side-project supergroup forged in the ’90s. After withstanding two hiatuses, cranking out three LPs and a live CD/DVD set, Down has become the collective members’ full-time gig. Vocalist Phil Anselmo (Pantera), guitarists Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity) and Kirk Windstein (Crowbar), drummer Jimmy Bower (Eyehategod), and new bassist Pat Bruders—replacing longtime bassist Rex Brown—offer their first chapter of a four-EP metal opus spanning their combined influences.

This is firmly in the band’s comfort zone—Southern broasted, neck-snapping riffs, power-meets-sludge metal grooves, and Anselmo’s signature gravelly, dynamic vocals. Familiar highlights include “Witchtripper” with its bulldozing wall of sound and “Open Coffins,” which sounds like a B-side accidentally left off A Bustle in Your Hedgerow. Updates to Down’s patented, Cajun-sauced metal recipe include dark, mournful delay and phaser effects, while overall there’s a bit more Molly Hatchet-style guitar harmonizing between Keenan and Windstein.

The six-song Purple EP avoids any monotonous agro-level riffs often found in sludge or doom metal, instead crafting a new batch of NOLA-Zeppelin stoner rock starting Down’s quartet of EPs on the right path. —Chris Kies

Must-hear track: “Open Coffins”