Something Else sneak peek: Down, "Witchtripper" (2012)

It’s been a long time coming, but on Thursday fans finally got a listen to some new studio work from Down.

The former supergroup featuring members of Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar, has now become the main musical outlet for vocalist Phil Anselmo and guitarist Pepper Keenan, but music still hasn’t arrived any faster. Their first release NOLA, with their main bands going strong, came in 1995. The follow-up, Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow arrived in 2002, followed by Down III: Over the Under in 2007. Down IV has been rumored for several years now, but with some music finally ready to go, the band has decided to split the record into four EPs. The first, titled The Purple EP, is set for release in mid-September, with the second to follow in early 2013 and the third and fourth later in 2013. Don’t hold the band to that schedule, though, Anselmo told Rolling Stone, adding “All I can say is expect it. I’m sure it’ll happen, we haven’t let you down before.”

The same can be said from a musical standpoint, and “Witchtripper,” the first track from the September EP, should certainly whet fans’ appetites for some new Down. It’s a little different than some of the things they’ve done in the past, but definitely recognizably Down. The song backs away from the sludgy New Orleans sound a little bit and goes for a more traditional doom metal feel.

Keenan delivers some fantastic riffs that would make doom master Tony Iommi proud, and Anselmo delivers an addictive, mocking vocal melody over Keenan’s grooves. He eschews his usual roars and screams in favor of a more straightforward doom vocal style, and it really works on this track. The song has a real retro doom/stoner feel, right down to the title, which Anselmo admits in the interview that he had to be talked into because he thought it was kind of silly. He thought the same of Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile,” and I’d say that turned out OK for him. This one should, too.

“Witchtripper” has been blasting through my headphones on repeat for about an hour as I write this, and I think I like it better each time through. It’s going to be a long wait until September, and I only wish there were a full album at the end of that wait instead of just an EP.

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Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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