Thrash Hits

September 18th, 2012

POLL: Hang on a minute – is Down IV Part I – The Purple EP a load of old balls?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard the new EP from Down. Guess what? Hugh Platt was less than impressed.

Down 2012 promo photo Thrash Hits

Back in January, I wrote a speculative bit of fluff about Down putting out an EP in 2012, rather than the fully fledged album that their fans have been clamouring for since 2007’s Down III – Over The Under. I glibly suggested that Down putting out an EP meant that we’d be getting just the cream of the New Orleans-based supergroup’s capabilities, rather than them just churning out a longer record that would no doubt contain a couple of songs that would only sound good if you’d smoked as much weed as Phil Anselmo.

Except it hasn’t turned out like that, has it?

Now ostensibly, there’s nothing wrong with The Purple EP. It’s a fine collection of riffs. It’s not a bad collection of riffs by any measure you care to apply to it. But that doesn’t change the fact that when they’re all strung together it’s a pretty lacklustre collection of songs that we’re left with. Now before I get the the real rotting meat of my moaning, let’s refresh our collective memories of the contents of Down IV Part I – The Purple EP, shall we?

It’d be a brave man who’d favourably compare ‘Levitation’ to the out-the-box punch of either ‘Temptation’s Wings’ or ‘Lysergik Funeral Procession’. There’s nothing on The Purple EP that compares to the heady smoke-brewed likes of ‘Bury Me In Smoke’ or ‘Learn From This Mistake‘. And iI simply can’t shake the impression that the overdubs of Phil Anselmo’s croaky growls at the end of ‘This Work is Timeless’ are actually some kind of bayou frog chorus. The overall feeling I’m left with after listening to The Purple EP for the last few days has been “disappointment”. So what’s changed?

Firstly, Down is now the main event for everyone involved. Famously, the first Down album was put together in secret, with the various (then-)members of the band essentially moonlighting their services while playing in other bands. Okay, so the secret didn’t hold for long, but Down’s first album was still merely an exercise in fun for the guys involved. Album no.2 wasn’t much different – while the band that recorded Down II was no longer trying to conceal the identity of its members, it was still very much a side-project.

By the time Down III rolled around, Down was no longer the fun thing these guys got together to do on their time off from their other bands – this was their main event. Even Kirk Windstein, the lynchpin of Crowbar, now saw Down as the most important musical endeavor. The last time Crowbar came to London, they played in a 500-capacity venue. The next time Down are playing in London, it’s at a 5000-capacity venue. We don’t need to crack open the calculus textbooks to see where the money is.

Down IV Part I The Purple EP cover artwork packshot 400px Thrash Hits

Now I’m not saying that art and commerce can’t share a bed from time to time, but the shift in Down’s position from an supergroup outlet for various heavy metal musicians to blow off steam through, to the actually-this-is-now-our-day-job creature it is today is a far greater shift in expectations for an band to undergo than a band simply growing larger over time. The fundamental purpose of the project hasn’t simply changed – it’s been entirely inverted.

And that’s where I think The Purple EP falls down (‘scuse the pun). The sense of obligation that comes with it has squeezed out the freewheelin’, no-fucks-given, stoned-to-the-bone sludge-slick heaviness that coated Down’s earlier works. Maybe this release was only an EP rather than a full-length album because…well, under these circumstances, because Down simply couldn’t bring themselves to record an entire album? Or at least, to record an entire album that they were happy with? By stretching the release out into a series of EPs, maybe the band are giving themselves some breathing space to try to reclaim the extra-special undefinable quality that made those first two records special.

What do you think of Down IV Part I – The Purple EP?

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And yeah, to imply that The Purple EP is “a load of balls (as we did in the blog post title) is probably somewhat disengenous – as I said above, by no means do I think this is a bad release (other than the decision to both start and close this EP with a fade-in and fade-out respectively. Seriously?), and a lot of what I’ve said above is idle speculation regarding the behind-closed-doors creative process that only the band themselves are privy to. But none of that changes the fact that The Purple EP came dangerous close to boring me. And ultimately, isn;’t that the worst accusation you could possibly level at a band you love?

—-

Hugh’s opinions – as always – are not reflective of everyone here at Thrash Hits. We’ve emptied his litter tray and let him outside to go have a bit of a run around in the hope he’ll have calmed down a bit by the time his dinner’s ready.

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Comments

  • Sandra Bettis

    Ahhh, the old “end a title with a question mark” cop out. And after you actually stated that “by no means do I think this is a bad release.” It’s the sign of a weak journalist who cannot make a commitment and wants to create an unexplainable negative vibe despite not actually agreeing with what you truly believe.

    Let’s try it, shall we?

    “Hugh Platt is an unrepentant baby fucker?” Hmmmm….

    “Hugh Platt enjoys lapping up the rancid cum stains of legless Vietnam veterans while simultaneously plugging his arse with the skins of babies stricken with leukemia?”

    See how easy it is!!

    And your main criticism is that the band has now declared that this is their #1 focus? How about focusing on the music instead of the backstory? it’s called “music criticism.” Look into it.

    Me? I like the record. Is it as good as their debut? Not to me, but then again that would be a tough one to top for any act. But IV is loaded with riffs, excellent vocals, and a wicked bass tone. I cannot wait to see how it fits in with the remaining three EPs.

    Does Hugh Platt write half-assed record “reviews” with misleading titles in an attempt to garner himself some attention since he is incapable of decent journalism?

    You betcha!

    • Adam J

      Someone’s got sand in their vagina – Thai much so they can’t tell the difference between a “review” and an Op-Ed.

      • EnglishDogs

        I’m with Sandra on this one. It was obviously a review, not an Op-Ed. And nice misogyny Adam! Gold Star for you!!

  • yepa15

    you are always complaining about everything in art. i only dislike the comercial art, the one that its only aimed to sell, the rest, is art

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