Sound: Well, Down is by far one of my favorite bands out there. I have a certain affinity for the way the manage to combine their bluesy/jazzy southern background to the heavy metal genre. It's also admirable that the band consists of central band members from Corrosion of Conformity & Crowbar (two other bands I really like), not to mention Eyehategod and Pantera. What's interesting about Down II, their second Album, is that it was allegedly recorded in less than a month. Apparently, the band gathered in a barn, got drunk and high quite often, and, when they found the time, made some music. And it worked. This album has taken some shit since its release in 2002, which does make sense if you compare it to the other two albums by Down, NOLA and Over The Under. I don't think they should be compared. I think Down II is a very strong effort, if considered as a stand-alone southern heavy metal album. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrical themes seem pretty standard to me, not that there's anything wrong with that. You've got your songs about drug use, depression, society's everlasting decay and deep personal issues that I'm sure can be traced back to the writers family and friends. The boys in Down are excellent lyricists, an Mr Anselmo sings his heart out on every single track. There's not much more to say. Good job. // 10
Overall Impression: This record is a pretty affected by Downs blues/jazz roots, probably more so than the other two. This is noticeable in the six minute jazz-like odyssey "Lies, I don't know what they say, but...", the seven minute remorseful ballad "Learn from this mistake" and the acoustic trailer park anthem "Where I'm going". Some of the other songs are a little harder to place, like for instance "Landing on the mountains of Meggido", an almost eight minute long acoustic epic, penned solely by Phil Anselmo himself, that has a very haunting and lingering feel, a song that will probably stick with you long after it fades out. Two other oddballs on the record are "Flambeaux's Jamming With St. Aug" (whatever the hell that means) and the "Doob Interlude", both of which are written exclusively by Mr Bower of Eyehategod. The first is a minute long drum solo, pretty pointless if you ask me. The "Doob Interlude" is a little more pleasant, serving as a decent intro to one of the records heavy hitters, "New Orleans is a dying whore". Then we have "Stained glass cross", that tries to experiment with an old-timey rock & roll-type organ, an experiment that in my opinion is a little misplaced in this case, making "Stained glass cross" the weakest song on the album.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have the reliable Down-heavys, like the aforementioned "New Orleans is a dying whore", "Beautifully Depressed", "Dog Tired", and so forth, the most catchy one in my opinion being "Ghosts along the Mississippi". This is a song that has some of the best riffs I've ever heard. At the same time, the song manages to embody the gritty and angry, yet bluesy and melodic sound of the album has in general. The heaviest song is probably "The Seed", with it's down-tuned guitars, and stampeding drums.
My personal favorite song on Down II will have to be the albums second track, "There's something on my side". The song opens with a galloping drum beat, leading into a fast and energetic verse, a slow and heavy chorus, then a slow and almost psychedelic midsection that gives goosebumps every time i listen to it. "There's something on my side" is not only my favorite song on Down II, but my favorite Down song altogether.
As for whichever songs I haven't mentioned, they're all good. // 8